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pass the time at the airport

18 Ways to Pass the Time at the Airport

How to entertain yourself at any airport

Delayed in Dakar? Stranded in San Salvador? When that unexpected flight delay happens and you’re not lucky enough to find yourself at one of these amazing airports, it’s time to get creative. You don’t have to get stuck browsing social media for two hours!

For the solo traveler

1. Write postcards

Pick up a few postcards at a gift shop and write fun notes for your friends and family. They will love getting an actual, physical note in the mail for a change.

2. Random acts of kindness

Put quarters in the vending machine and don’t buy anything. Pick up trash in the food court. Buy a small stack of $5 gift cards for the nearest coffee shop and give them to the agents at your gate (they’re probably hating the flight delay just as much as you)!

3. Do a crossword

Bring them with you, look one up online, or comb the shelves at any airport store selling books.

4. Start a new show

This might be a good time to try that new Netflix series you promised your coworker you’d check out. Sometimes it takes several episodes to really get into something, so it might just happen if you’re literally stranded with nothing to do!

5. Learn a language

Download a language learning app and learn a few keywords and phrases to prepare you for your trip. A few great ones are Babbel (Android, iOS), Busuu (Android, iOS), and Duolingo (Android, iOS).

6. Plan your next adventure

Bust out a notebook and a pen and start planning your next dream trip. If you’re not sure where to start, look at some travel blogs for inspiration. You can choose based on seasons such as searching for best springtime or summer destinations. You could even look at theme trips such as adventure travel or pick a destination based on a favorite film!

7. Start a blog

You’ve always wanted to try your hand a blogging, but you just “never have the time.” Now you have the time, and when you reach your destination, you’ll have something interesting to write about. You can do this for fun, or perhaps even turn it into a source of income. Here are a few first steps to get you going.

8. Strike up a conversation

Step out of your comfort zone and get to know a stranger at your gate while you wait. Talk to a shopkeeper in one of the airport terminal stores.

9. Buy a magazine

Pick up a magazine about a topic you know nothing about and learn something new! Technology, art, cooking…maybe a travel destination you have never been to before?

For the whole group

10. Have a movie marathon

Send someone for the popcorn or soft pretzels. Bust out a laptop and work your way through a trilogy until it’s time to go. Movies are so much better with friends!

11. Airport scavenger hunt

Break into two teams and race to find a list of items throughout the airport (a pink neck pillow, a bridal magazine, a puppy, a team member singing to a stranger…). You can make your own or do a quick Google search and find a pre-made list. Just remember to take pics, or it didn’t happen!

12. Would you rather?

Get to know your travel companions a little better by answering, “Would You Rather?” questions. These can lead to some pretty interesting and surprising conversations, and you might find your long wait over in no time. The only rule — you actually have to pick one answer! Here’s a list of questions to try and answer.

13. Try a progressive meal

Get an appetizer at one restaurant, the main course at another and your dessert at a third. Take turns picking your restaurants and enjoy a slow meal with good company.

14. Never have I ever

Each person in the group contributes one “never have I ever” statement (or two if your group is small). For example, “Never have I ever been to Europe.” Take turns sharing these. Every other person gets a point if they have done whatever is mentioned. The person with the least amount of point/experiences at the end of the game will have to attempt an agreed upon activity at your destination (eat a weird, foreign food, bungee jump, etc.).

15. GeoQuiz

Head to the nearest departure board and take turns answering questions about each city on the board. Which country is it in? What language is spoken? What currency do they use? The loser gets to buy lunch!

16. Passenger bingo

Create simple bingo boards with sheets of paper. On each square include things like “someone wearing a beach hat,” “crying baby,” “traveler running to catch a flight.” Cross them off as you notice people walking by and see who wins!

17. Nonsense story

Each person starts with a piece of paper and has a given amount of time to write a few lines. When the time is over, they stop where they are, even in mid-sentence. Then they must fold the top of the paper down until only the last line is showing. Pass the papers and have the next person continue where the story left off. Continue until you have done this several times. The results are hilarious.

18. Lip sync battle

Find an empty gate and hold a lip sync battle with your travel companions. Post to social media and see who gets the “most votes.” You may still get funny looks from passengers hurrying through the airport, but hey, what is travel about if you don’t see something weird on your trip?

Shawna Levet

Shawna is passionate about helping travel agents grow their business and expand their knowledge as travel experts. She has been in the travel industry since 2011, helping agents and travelers alike find the best negotiated airfare and travel coverage to meet their needs.


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