Ever found yourself wondering what to do in an airport? Plenty of people ponder this questions. It may be you’ve arrived at the airport a couple of hours before your flight and gone through checking in your bags; security and received your boarding pass. Now its “dead time.” You know, those few hours you spend doing pretty much nothing at the airport as you wait for your flight to board? You might be sitting at the departure gate, staring over at the runway thanks to the airline insisting you arrive up to three hours prior to the flight. Or perhaps you’re killing time between connecting flights; you’re flight has been delayed or you are wishing there was a break in the dreadful weather so you could get airborne.
If this sounds familiar, here’s a few suggestions on what to do in an airport! It’s one place that is full of interesting people who are all out of their natural habitats – and very few people are really at their best at airports! So dead-time offers great people-watching opportunities. Count how many loud and obnoxious mobile phone callers you can hear or how many passengers late for their flights you see running and sweating profusely to get to the departure gate. What about those who come all dressed up to the nines for their flight? Or the frazzled mothers herding their cranky children? And the fathers trailing behind with the entire family’s luggage. Look out for those unexpected characters too, like the magician in his top hat and tails or a prisoner being transported to another city. Airports are truly a parade of humanity and people-watching can be fascinating!
Next time you have a few hours to kill in an airport, here are a few what to do in an airport idea’s to help you pass the time:
- Bookstores. Walk along to the bookstores for a browse or quick read or buy a few books and magazines to take on board with you. You can spend a good hour or more looking around the store and checking out the latest sellers or paging through the trashy mags!
- Online time. Many airports offer free access to Wi-Fi. Those that charge for it only charge a small fee which is worth paying for something that can pass the time productively. Read the news; send a few emails; check in on Facebook or even compare some duty free prices on Duty Free Addict.
- Exhibitions and displays. Many airports offer fascinating displays. For example, San Francisco Airport has its own museum displaying something different every month. Washington Dulles airport has an Air and Space Museum. Dubai airport is known for its extravagant car displays and Singapore airport has its very own (and the world’s first) butterfly garden. Have a look online before you head off on your trip to find out what the airports you’ll be stopping at have on offer at that time.
- Write. Buy a couple of postcards or bring along a pen and notebook to jot down thoughts or keep a journal. If you’re a writer you’ll have ample surroundings and people to work with for new ideas! You might just be amazed at what you come up with.
- Java. Yes, the queues at the airport Starbucks or Costa Coffee may be long, but hey, they kill time too! If you fancy something to eat and trying different cuisines, many airports offer exotic options, fast food counters or even Irish pubs!
- Strike up conversation. If you’re not too shy, strike up a conversation with a complete stranger – you might just have the most fascinating chat of your life! There really seems to be something about being outside our comfort zones that inspire storytelling, sharing, confidence and honesty which can be pretty refreshing.
- Play a game. Whether it’s the free Xbox games that some airports offer or a hand-held computer game for the kids or even a crossword puzzle or Sudoku challenge, playing games can really help to pass the time in the airport.
- A riddle or three. If you’re travelling in a group and have a few ours to spare, grab a table at one of the coffee shops, order refreshments and play a few mind games. Have everyone share their favorite riddles and try to guess the answers. This is a great way to keep the grey matter busy in-transit!
- Meditate or prey. If you’re tired, cranky and just wanting to get on that flight, find a relatively peaceful spot to sit down and clear your mind. Take a break and meditate. Alternatively, some airports offer prayer rooms if you’d like to get in touch with your higher beings before takeoff.
- For foodies. Some airports have exceptional food that is not to be missed. In San Francisco, I’m told, the Mexican Tortilla Chicken Soup from the Soup Factory is an absolute must, as is the chicory coffee in New Orleans. Fancy clam chowder? Don’t miss out in Boston’s airport at Legal Sea Foods. If you’re a frequent traveler and have found delicious delights at certain airports, it can certainly give you something to look forward to.
- Make a call. Use your free time to check in with your family or spouse.
- Become a videographer! Find a quiet spot, turn on your video camera or mobile phone camera (if the airport permits) and pretend you’re filming extras for your next big screen hit.
- Plan your next trip. Head over to one of the airline counters and find out what deals and discount tickets they have on offer – you may just end up planning your next trip!
- A bit of exercise. Some airports have gyms, others also offer refreshing showers and places to have a nap if you’re waiting for another flight. But if you fancy a bit of fun and exercise and don’t want to hit the gym, use one of the moving walkways as a treadmill (I’d advise you do this when the airports relatively quiet and no one, such as security, minds!).
- If you’re really stuck for ideas, try to find every letter of the alphabet on the airport signs.
- If you’re literally stuck waiting for a delayed flight, go back to that Wi-Fi spot, log into to Twitter and search via hashtag to find out if anyone else is stuck waiting too.
- And then there’s duty-free. You could, of course, spend your time shopping. Some airports have fantastic shopping experiences on offer. Dubai is well known for its duty free shopping and Singapore and Hong Kong airports both have awesome duty free areas. Whatever you’re looking for, from cigars to alcohol, trinkets, clothes, gifts, gadgets, electronics, souvenirs and necessities – you can pretty much find anything you could want, need, desire and have-to-have in an airport. So why not shop duty free till you drop (or at least until your flight boards) should your budget permit!
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