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As travelers, we live in a world where nothing can be said to be certain except for death, taxes, and airport delays. And indeed, with upwards of 509,000 flight delays recorded globally each MONTH, and 29,000 + cancellations, even those who travel infrequently are likely to run into some form of delay.

From missed connections and unexplained cancellations, to rampant delays, sometimes those three letter airport codes make us want to use some four letter words.

But since we can’t avoid them (though you can try to sidestep the worst airports) at least we can travel prepared. The following are 5 ways you can kill time during insufferable flight delays.

How to Kill Time During Airport Delays

Read Something

Reading at the airport

While there have been many advances in technology to keep boredom at bay, one of best ways to keep entertained has been around for ages. It’s reading.

Whether you travel with a good book, keep a library on your Kindle, or pick up a trashy magazine from the airport news-agency, reading material is a great way to pass time.

Becoming engrossed in a novel, a crossword puzzle, or even a Wikipedia page will help distract you from the fact that you’re sitting in an airport delayed.

If you have lounge access, you’ll probably find that there are free magazine stands where you can pick up some reading material without having to shell out overpriced airport rates.


If you feel as though your muscles are starting to waste away, why not get some exercise in! Many airports these days have fitness centers, yoga rooms, and walking tracks, and airport hotels usually allow public day passes for use of their gym.

If you’re stuck at an airport without exercise facilities, or don’t have appropriate clothes, you can still burn calories with a couple of hot laps around the terminal (though don’t run unless you want to be tackled by security!).

Dallas Fort Worth actually has a walking track within their terminal for this purpose. But if you don’t mind looking a bit silly, find a seating bench for sets of reverse crunches and pushups.

Doing lunges on the moving walkway is another great exercise you can do in airports – it’s essentially a slow paced treadmill. Otherwise, if you pack a resistance band in your carryon for impromptu strength training and stretching.

Relax in a Lounge

Qantas First Lounge Sydney

Image: Paul hood (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

A great way to use your spare time is to relax in a lounge. Most airline lounges these days have comfortable seating, work stations, and plenty of free food and beverages, with an unlimited supply of champagne to melt away any stress or anxiety you’re felling from your cancellation or delay.

Just don’t become so relaxed or libated that you miss your rescheduled boarding time!!

All decent lounges offer a diverse range of in-house services as well, so you may also have the option to pamper yourself with massage chairs or spa treatments; not all treatments are free, so be prepared with some extra cash.

Even if you don’t have frequent flier status with any airlines, you can gain lounge access through programs which offer up a network of 1200 airport lounges worldwide, and a choice of three membership plans to suit your particular traveling needs.

Get Some Work Done

Traveling with technology cell mobile phone laptop RF airport

If you’re forced to sit somewhere for hours with no place to go, you may as well make it work for you and get some work done! That way when you do arrive in your destination, you’ll have free time having already knocked off your emails, edited photos, whatever you’ve been putting off that you need to do.

All airports are equip with power stations these days (though take an adapter with you if you’re traveling internationally), and some will even have work stations set up throughout. Or, buy yourself a coffee and sit down at a cafe.

Just remember that when connecting via public WiFi at an airport, it’s always important to use a VPN. Most airport WiFi around the world are public, open networks, which aren’t safe, and allow anyone else using them to access your information.

For someone who knows what they’re doing they can see data like your usernames, passwords, credit card numbers etc. The way you get around this is by installing a VPN on your computer or phone. This allows you to encrypt your traffic and keep everything private.

Fly the Plane Yourself

OK, this isn’t a viable option for 99.9% of travelers, but we couldn’t help but include it after a story broke this week about an off duty pilot on vacation with his family, who saved an entire flight by offering to fly the plane himself!

Click here to read the full story!

Play Games

Most airports these days offer free WiFi and plenty of power supplies, so if you’re bored and delayed, pick up your smart phone, tablet or laptop and play a game.

Whether you occupy yourself with tetris, pacman, or online casino games from MrGreen, like reading, you’ll find this a welcome distraction from the fact that you’ve been stuck in an airport all day.

Or, if you can’t connect to online, consider more classic games you can enjoy at the airport, like I-Spy, 20 Questions, and the like. If you’re traveling solo you can always pick up a newspaper or magazine from the airport newsagency for crosswords or other puzzles. 

Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.



  1. Excellent article! Airports are great for bloggers. We always manage to get a lot of work done instead of wasting our precious time!

    • Thanks Nat! We do as well … really enjoy setting ourselves up in the lounge next to a couple of power outlets where we can play catch up :)

  2. Airports have gyms and yoga studios? That sounds awesome! Unfortunately haven’t stumbled on one of those yet. Or maybe I guess I have been lucky to not really have any major delays in my travels this past year. Knock on wood. Or carry yoga mat.

    • They do indeed! Will depend which airport you’re at obviously, but the biggest hubs are all usually quite kitted out. I hope you don’t find yourself stuck at the airport anytime soon, but if you do, take some time to wander and explore. Might be surprised with the amenities you find!

  3. I like to go to the Express Spa for a short massage or if I have longer, a pedicure. There are also a lot of really great restaurants at airports around the world; Gordon Ramsay Plane Food is a favorite when we’re in Heathrow. And depending on how long your delay or layover is, many airports have free or really inexpensive short city tours.

    • I actually wasn’t aware of city tours which run from the airport – quite a brilliant idea, especially for those wanting to get out during their layover. Thanks for the tip!

      And I’ll have to try Gordon Ramsay Plane Food the next time we’re in Heathrow :)

  4. These are some great tips, but what you can do really does depend on the airport you’re at. If you’re at one of the mega airports in Asia, then you can virtually do whatever you want! Unfortunately, if my flights are delayed in Liverpool, there’s not much to do apart from read!

    • Thanks Tom :) Yes, it does always depend on the airport and the facilities it has. Airports throughout Asia are definitely leading the industry in this sense … I hope you don’t have to deal with any more delays in Liverpool going into the new year!

      Happy travels :)

  5. In the last 2 years i travel with my husband and baby girl. The thing to do is play with her :) Before i used to read or just talk!!!

    • Congratulations on your beautiful baby! Yes, I can understand how playing with her would easily help to make the time disappear :) Happy travels!

  6. I’m all about discovering the lounges and comparing them to others around the world. If I have enough time, I’ll visit multiple ones in the same airport just to see if they have different food and drinks. :-)

    • I’ve been known to do the same :D British Airways Lounge usually wins in my opinion just for their amazing cheesecake!!

  7. I’ve had a lot of time to kill in the airport this year. I felt like I always had long lay overs, delays or I just needed to get dropped off extra early. I love it when the airport has wifi, I can do work for sure, but if not, I find that reading a book helps a lot.

    • :( Sorry to hear that. There’s nothing worse than delays, especially if you experience them a lot!! And yes, I can’t stand when I’m stuck and the airport doesn’t have WiFi – having lounge access is usually a big help in that sense :)

  8. I always end up catching up on work at the airport, but my body often craves the exercise. Next time I’ll try and do both.

    • If you have time, go for both!

  9. Great tips. I’ve never thought about exercise at the airport and that really is a great way to pass time. I would love a yoga room at airports, I’ve never seen or heard about them in the UK but I’d turn up early at the airport just for that if they did have one! :) Polly

    • Thanks Polly :) You can always research the airports you’re heading to in advance as well to scope out the facilities they have. If there’s a couple of great spa’s or a yoga room, turning up early is a great idea!

      Happy holidays & travels in 2017 X

  10. best way for me is to watch movies or play video games. I’ve never seen person who do push ups in the airport :P

    • Haha I actually haven’t either though I have seen people doing jumping jacks before :D Movies and video games are a great way to make the time fly though :)

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