Flight delayed, stuck with a long layover, or simply misjudged the arrival time – whatever the reason we have all been there, marooned in an airport with hours to kill. If you’re lucky enough to be in one of the world’s best airports then you may find yourself wishing that you could stay even longer, but for every Singapore Changi there are many more like London Luton. So, wherever you find yourself, here are our top 8 ideas for ways to kill time at the airport.
1. People watching
The absolute worst has happened – you are stranded in a boring departure lounge, the WiFi is down and you can’t even find a shop to buy a newspaper. Observing your fellow travelers can be an excellent way to pass the time. Try to guess where they are going, or why they are traveling, or simply get some new sartorial tips from stylish strangers. Whatever you do, be discreet – nobody enjoys being stared at.
2. Playing casino games
With a working mobile there are plenty more options, but what better way to make the hours fly than playing a few casino games online? In 2022, many of the best casino sites will allow you to play games such as blackjack, roulette and slots. Guaranteed to be so engaging that you will hear your flight being called before you know it.
3. Taking an (un)official tour
Hop on to the airport’s official website and see if they have a virtual tour – many big airports these days have them, like the one for Istanbul Airport in Turkey. Using this as a guide, you can stroll around the terminal and find any hidden gems that it may have to offer. If it looks like you are in for a very long wait, it can be useful to be completely familiar with the layout and locations of everything.
4. Creating a scavenger hunt
Waiting alone is bad enough, but if you are traveling with children then a nuisance can turn into a nightmare. Thankfully, most airports have enough going on that you can make a decent scavenger hunt. If the kids are old enough to be unsupervised for a time, make it a competition to snap photos of a number of random objects that could conceivably be found in an airport. If you prefer the youngsters to stick together, then you can make it a collaborative, clues-based hunt. Thankfully there are a lot of ideas to be found online, so you don’t even need to have one pre-prepared.
5. Going shopping
If your budget will accommodate it, airports can be a great place for a spot of retail therapy. From luxury brands to duty-free bargains, there’s almost always something interesting on offer. Pick up a treat for your vacation, or if you are on the return journey then stock up on souvenirs and gifts to take home for friends and family. Even if you don’t want to spend, a bit of window shopping passes the time quite nicely.
6. Exploring the surroundings
If the circumstances allow, take the opportunity to leave the airport and explore the nearby surroundings. Grab a cab and ask them to drive you to a few local sights, or if you have long enough then take a walk around the city. Some layovers can even be like a bonus vacation, and you can see if it’s a place where you would like to spend more time on a future trip.
7. Relaxing in the lounge
Many budget travelers don’t even consider booking time in an airport lounge, but if you are in for a long wait it can actually be very cost-effective. Check on the website how much lounge access costs, and you might be pleasantly surprised. Airport food is expensive, but once inside the lounge there are complimentary food and beverages as well as comfortable seating and many extra perks. Travel can be stressful and fatiguing, so treat yourself and get away from the crowds for a while.
8. Getting organized
If you are returning home from a vacation, chances are you have taken a lot of pictures. With some forced downtime, you have the perfect opportunity to sort and curate your photos before returning home. Decide which ones you want to post online, delete the ones that you don’t need, and possibly make a folder of the ones you prefer to keep private. The folks back home will thank you when they don’t have to scroll through twenty identical shots of tropical sunsets. If you really must, then you could also get a jump on those work emails that have been piling up – but don’t feel obligated, you’re still technically on vacation.