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Eight Tips to Kill Time at Airports

Updated on July 25, 2020
Paul Kuehn profile image

Since joining the Navy in 1967, Paul has flown all over the United States and very often to East and Southeast Asia.

Aircraft Parked at Departure Gate


Using Airports for Scheduled Departures

During the past 12 years, I have spent a lot of time in airport terminals waiting for both domestic and international flights. Due to concerns about long check-in lines, passing through immigration, and getting through security screening lines, I have usually arrived at airports at least two and one-half to three hours before my international departures. Nevertheless, by arriving at airports early enough, I still have time to kill before boarding my flights.

In this article, I suggest seven tips which I have used to successfully kill time at airports while waiting for scheduled flights.

Eating and Drinking

It never fails that most of my flights depart during mealtime. Whenever I fly from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport to the United States, departure time is at six or seven o'clock in the morning. For many domestic departures in Thailand, my flights leave around noon or six or seven in the evening.

In satisfying my hunger, I will usually eat at a fast food joint like Subway or MacDonald's in a food court or a Thai style sit-down restaurant when flying out of Udorn.

At almost all international airports, there are lounges or sports bars that serve alcoholic beverages. Very seldom will I frequent these bars because many times I receive complimentary wine or beer on flights.

If you have a place to sit down, you can usually kill at least 30 minutes or an hour eating or drinking.

A Hong Kong Airport Restaurant


Talking with Passengers

It always makes the time pass faster while waiting to board a flight by striking up a conversation with a fellow passenger. If you are traveling with friends or relatives, this is very easy to do. Traveling alone, however, is somewhat difficult for a shy and introverted person. Just the same, you will make your journey much more pleasant by breaking out of your shell and having a friendly chat with the individual who is waiting next to you.

Talking with Passengers While Waiting for a Fight

Taken at Udonthani Airport on 04-13-15.  My wife is talking with my neighbor and his wife who accompanied us to Hong Kong.
Taken at Udonthani Airport on 04-13-15. My wife is talking with my neighbor and his wife who accompanied us to Hong Kong. | Source

Going Shopping at Duty-Free Stores

Although I hate shopping, looking for gifts in airport duty-free shops is a great way to kill time. In the past, I have purchased cigarettes, liquor, and cosmetics. On our recent trip to Hong Kong, my wife was searching for the Coach brand of handbags in duty-free shops.

Using Smartphones and Tablets

When traveling 10 years ago, I saw a lot of passengers using their laptops in airport terminals. Today I don't see many laptops, but it's amazing to look at the number of people who are carrying smartphones and tablets. I don't have an I-pad yet, but I do have a smartphone that helps me kill time at airports. In addition to the few calls which I make and receive, the smartphone is used for internet surfing, taking pictures, and shooting videos. I probably could do more, but I haven't learned how to use all of the apps on my smartphone yet.

If I had a tablet, like most people, I would be tempted to take selfies, and then with my wife look at a lot of photos. The I-pad would also be nice for taking some videos at the airport. I'm not into playing online games, but this certainly would be another great way to kill time at airports.

Taking a Photo at the Airport

Photo was taken inside Taipei International Airport in November of 2014
Photo was taken inside Taipei International Airport in November of 2014 | Source


Whenever I have a long layover in an airport, I make sure I am carrying a good book. Exciting action thrillers like The Bourne Retribution are a must. Books like this will keep me captivated, and it's amazing how fast the time passes.

Using Airport Lounges

Airport lounges are operated by most major airlines for business and first-class passengers. The accommodations at these lounges include comfortable seating, WIFI access, free drinks and snacks, and a much quieter environment. While working for the government, I often traveled business class and was able to use United Airlines' United Club and the former Northwest Airlines lounge. Frequent fliers may also in some cases have access to these airport lounges. I can't think of a better way to kill time while waiting for a flight.

Watching Passengers

Finally, watching passengers can also be a nice way to kill time. As a man, I enjoy looking at beautiful attractive women. At an international airport, you also will see so many interesting different kinds of people from countries all around the world.

At Terminal 1 in Hanida Airport June 2019.
At Terminal 1 in Hanida Airport June 2019. | Source

In June 2019, I had an eight-hour layover during the day at Haneda Airport in Tokyo, Japan. I killed part of the time by watching the takeoffs and landings of numerous aircraft. Most of the flights I saw were operated by either ANA aka All Nippon Airways or Japan Airlines. During one 30-minute period, planes were either taking off or landing at the rate of one per minute.


There are other ways to kill time such as playing card games with friends or by looking at exhibits in many of the airports. If you are a smoker, you can also go into designated smoking rooms to satisfy your cravings and pass the time. The tips which I have suggested in this article always work for me.

Killing Time at Airports

How do you like to kill time at airports?

See results

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2015 Paul Richard Kuehn


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    • profile image


      2 weeks ago

      Article was common sense and not worth reading

      Writing these is also a time killer

    • Paul Kuehn profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Alun, excuse my delay in answering this comment. My ultrasound was clear. I have another one scheduled in May of this year. Thanks for your comments!

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image

      Greensleeves Hubs 

      4 years ago from Essex, UK

      Spending time at an airport is not one of my favourite activities! Not having a smart phone or ipad, it would be nice I think to have gaming devices or a public TV screen to watch - something which isn't usually available in the general public area. Having said that, my oddest experience ever was in a late night bar at Nairobi Airport Kenya. I was the only person there apart from the barman, and there was a TV screen showing a soft-porn film!! Not what you expect in a public place! The barman just grinned, and I don't know if it was by accident or design that the film happened to be on screen at that time :)

      I try to arrive as late as I reasonably can at the airport, whilst always allowing for possible travel delays, so I just have time for a meal and a wander around the various concourse shops before heading off to the departure gate.

      Paul, on another matter, I hope your recent hospital visit went OK and the investigation results were good news for you. Best wishes, Alun

    • Paul Kuehn profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      5 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Thanks for commenting! Why haven't you ever flown? Are you afraid of flying or just prefer driving or taking the train. I'm pleased you found this hub interesting and useful and really appreciate you sharing it on HP.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      5 years ago from North Texas

      With so much time to kill it might not take any longer to drive than to take a domestic flight inland. Believe it or not, I have never been off the ground on an airplane!

      A person could probably write a new hub with all the time to kill waiting for their flight at the airport. ;) Voted up and useful/interesting and sharing on HP.

    • Paul Kuehn profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      5 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Yes, a cool beer while socializing with people can be very enjoyable while passing the time. I'm happy you liked this hub.

    • Paul Kuehn profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      5 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Yes, watching shows and youtube videos is also a good way to kill time.

    • Paul Kuehn profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      5 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Yes, deleting unwanted emails and messages is a good way to pass the time. Watching passengers can sometimes be very interesting.

    • Paul Kuehn profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      5 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Thanks for your comments, Lee, and I am pleased you liked this article. I appreciate you voting this hub up!

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      5 years ago from Oklahoma

      I know it isn't the most economical way to do things, but I do enjoy having a beer and socializing with other travelers when I have a layover at the airport.

      Great read!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I usually use my smartphone-get caught up on all of the shows that I like to watch.

    • georgescifo profile image


      5 years ago from India

      Deleting my unwanted emails and messages on my smartphones is one of the best way that I choose to kill my time at the airport. There are also other options like watching passengers from different countries, and other various activities at the airport.

    • profile image

      Lee Cloak 

      5 years ago

      Sound advice I am sure most people can use as most of us have probably experienced delays at airports, thanks for sharing, voted up, Lee


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