I’ve spent my share of long hours waiting in an airport for a flight. Sometimes it was because of a scheduled airport layover. Other times it was because a flight got switched on me for one reason or another. Either way, I’ve had to get creative in finding ways to help me – and sometimes my family – deal with long airport layovers.
If the airport layover is long enough, you might consider leaving the airport to explore a nearby city. But you’ll want to do your research to make sure you’d have enough time to see the sights and make it back in time to catch your flight.
Here’s a list of things you can do at almost any airport, whether your layover is short or really long, to pass the time.
Enjoy a Meal at a Restaurant
If you’ve got the time, skip the food court. Find a nice restaurant and take your time to enjoy a nice meal. I’ve dined at places like P.F. Chang, Chili’s, Outback Steakhouse and Market Street Grill. All of those restaurants offer finer dining than picking up a tray of food from McDonald’s or Wendy’s.
Know you’re going to have a long airport layover? Do some advanced research of the airport and find out where the best dining places are. If your layover is because of a delayed flight, find a map of the airport or check with someone at an information desk to find out what restaurants are available.
Don’t have a lot of time between flights? Let your waiter/waitress know when you first arrive so they can plan accordingly and not be the reason you didn’t make your connecting flight.
Go Window Shopping
The Orlando International Airport had some of the best window shopping for an airport. Regardless of whether I made it to the Kennedy Space Center, SeaWorld, Walt Disney World Or Universal Studios, I was able to pick up a souvenir from any one of those places. They each had large stores at the airport.
If you’re looking for something a little different, many airports have unique shops or designer stores. Even if you don’t have intentions of buying a name brand pair of sunglasses, it’s fun to do a little window shopping anyway.
You can even swing into one of the newsstands or bookstores and pick up some reading materials. Maybe a current magazine or daily newspaper. Or a new book that’s been on your reading list for a while.
Take a 3-mile Walk
Once, after learning our flight was delayed for eight hours, my wife and I decided to make the best of it. We looked at a map of the airport and walked to the end of each terminal. When all was said and done, we’d walked about three miles. Not a bad way to get our steps in the for the day.
Other times, I’ve just sat and watched people walking by. There are people of all sorts at the airport. The oblivious doddler who blocks people from passing them on the living walkway. The exhausted child sitting down on the floor, refusing to take another step. Or the teenager with their face glued to their phone.
Play Games or Watch a Movie
A deck of cards can easily fit into your carry on. And if you find out you’re stranded a little longer than expected, you can find an area to play a few rounds of a game. Some of our favorites include:
- Egyptian Rat Killer
If you have travel versions of other games, like chess/checkers, slip one into your carryon just in case.
The advantages of having an Smart Phone or tablet is the ability to log into Netflix and put on a movie. I highly recommend finding a headphone splitter that allows you to plug two sets of headphones into one jack.
Grab a Dessert
If you’ve already eaten dinner and gone on a walk, maybe it’s time to grab some dessert before you curl up on those “comfy” airport chairs to watch a movie.
Many airports have ice cream shops, smoothie places or even a little stand with some cheesecake or a doughnut.
Get Creative: Do a Photo Shoot or Video
If relaxing with many of the other options isn’t your thing, then take the time to get creative. Wander the airport and take photos with statues or figures positioned nearby. I captured a photo with an astronaut in Orlando.
I’ve also filmed part of a music video in the Salt Lake City International Airport. I was heading out on a business trip and wanted to do something special for my girlfriend. So I made this video to the song “One Call Away” by Charlie Puth. After filming, I edited it on the plane and emailed her the link to it when I got to my hotel. She was woo’ed and she is now my beautiful wife.
Conclusion: Boredom Busters for a Long Airport Layover
When all is said and done, your happiness level is determined more by your attitude than anything else. You can whine and complain to the gate agent, or you can make the best of it by taking your significant other on an airport date (dinner, walk, spa treatment, dessert and a movie).
Venturing away from the airport is another option, but can have its own risks – like a missed flight.
Do what’s going to work best for you. A delayed flight may be frustrating, but do what you can to have some fun and create some unique memories.
If you need other boredom buster ideas, check this out: Disneyland Boredom Busters for Long Lines