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Things to do during long airport layovers

Updated on January 30, 2009


Just because you purchased a last minute flight doesn't mean you will arrive at your destination on time. With more and more flights chronically late due to weather delays or long lines at the security check point, a layover is not a surprising event anymore. As passengers cross their arms annoyed, in reality there is not much that can be done or complained about, especially when the layover is weather related or due to a mechanical issue with the aircraft.

In any case, getting grumpy will not do any good, especially when the delay is for safety's sake. A positive attitude may work wonders and getting creative in finding something to do may turn a layover into an interesting experience. Also, happy go lucky individuals will notice that the layover will appear shorter and less dramatic than the person beside them constantly staring at the flight board.

So what can you do if you have a long lay over and need to kill time at the terminal? The opportunities are endless....


Women will certainly enjoy this great pass time. Even though prices at the airport may be inflated, the joy of looking around in stores is like candy for the eyes. Not to mention the possibility of Duty Free Shopping for those international travelers. Airport stores have a pretty unique appeal, they are elegant and offer the possibility of doing some last minute shopping before boarding your flight. Now is the time to purchase that best seller or favorite magazines to bring along the flight.


If you did purchase that best seller of some copies of your favorite magazines, find a quite spot and do some good reading. It can be surprising how busy airports have some secluded spots offering some peace and comfort. Should you find concentrating on reading a book too distracting in an airport environment, purchase some magazines to be looked out. There are great magazine about Art, traveling or home remodeling that offer great pictures to look at.


Getting hungry? Thankfully airports are well prepared for layovers and offer many different opportunities to celebrate your taste buds. Most airports offer numerous fast-food outlets, bars, coffee shops, restaurants and ice cream parlours that will keep you occupied. Pick up a newspaper and relax sipping on your favorite coffee or indulge in some great pastries.  Or if you are really hungry take advantage and enjoy a full meal.


You can meet some very interesting individuals at the airport. Starting a conversation may be quite easy too! The layover itself make a great conversation starter. Then easily  follows questions such as "Where are you going to" or "Where are you from?" and from there you may end up talking about your careers, families and so on.


If you find people interesting but are not much fond of starting a conversation you may simply sit down and watch the world flow by. This can be very relaxing, almost like watching fish in an aquarium! You do not need to stare, just casually look around and let your thought flow. You may find yourself thinking about where these people are going, guessing what country they come from and imagine their jobs and lifestyles. Watching people in a busy airport can be an intriguing pass time indeed!


If you get bored by looking at people or simply are not in the mood,  look for a strategic seat where you can watch airplanes take off and land. You will see different types of air crafts, different models and sizes. You will also notice how many minutes or seconds pass in between one take off and another. If you like airplanes this is a nice way to pass time, and if you have children with you, they will surely be fascinated as well!

- Calling!

If you look around you, you will notice that layovers cause many people to talk on their cell phones. They may be simply alerting their family and friends that they are going to be late but you will notice that in most cases their phone calls can be pretty long. Talking on the phone (if your plan is not too costly) can be a great way to let those minutes or hours ticking, and in the meanwhile you may call that friend you have not heard for some time or a loved one that like to chit-chat.

As seen there are several ways to get those minutes ticking by during a layover. There are also several others and you can get ideas by watching what the passengers are doing. Whichever, you decide to do, once you flight itinerary is resumed you will feel much more happier and refreshed than that grumpy passengers still seated where you left him staring at the flight board with smoke coming out of his ears!

Eager of getting up in the air?


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    • profile image

      grinberg 4 years ago

      as a IT consultant I am flying almost every week, and unfortunately cannot avoid layovers. However, I recently downloaded Smart Layover FREE mobile app, and found it very helpful to plan layovers. It has discounted Day-Use rooms in airport hotels , security wait times and other cool features. You can download it from:

    • profile image

      mackenna 5 years ago

      im 11 and im flying alone on a plane from fl, to georga for a layover and then on a plane to wi. thanks these are great tips!

    • mandymoreno81 profile image

      mandymoreno81 6 years ago

      Depending on how long your layover is, I'd go out and about to eat. If you just want to wait, listen to music or read. The worst thing during a layover is to be utterly bored.

    • chelseacharleston profile image

      chelseacharleston 6 years ago

      Good topic! I always have fun at airports doing much of what you mentioned.

    • profile image

      liz 6 years ago

      If you have a LaGuardia, Newark, or a JFK layover Family In New York is a must! They offer custom New York tours and one of their specialties is layover tours! They pick you up at the airport, take you on your custom tour, and bring you back to the airport! It is a great way to make your layover a special part of your trip!

    • Aceblogs profile image

      Aceblogs 6 years ago from India

      Well nice share , but i did surf last time for long time on IT - 3 and the wifi was great so this too can help in such situations

    • profile image

      magnetsa 7 years ago

      I've wondered, at smaller airports especially, who is it that owns these aircraft? Maybe there is a local business opportunity? Maybe the aircraft is for sale? Maybe I am just weird but I have often wondered who owns the aircraft out the window in front of me.

      Now I use the website "" on my iPhone. It's a website rather than an App so I first have to start the Safari browser. I saved the link to my phone but the icon is kind of fuzzy. Oh well!

      I did not enter my email address and I still got the Tail Number lookup. I tried a couple other functions but they all seemed to require security.

      Would you do a Tail Number lookup? Why?

    • profile image

      Lizzie 7 years ago

      Im going to hav a few hours layover by myself wen i fly over spring break, these r definitely helpful! Thank yu!

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 7 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Great suggestions. I think I've done them all at one time or another while waiting for a flight.

    • profile image

      DavidLivingston 7 years ago

      All makes sense and been useful to me. Thank you.

    • profile image

      LisaJane 7 years ago

      You could make a movie and post it on youtube like this girl did in the Pittsburgh airport last February.

    • profile image

      shellbbbssss 7 years ago

      Hey, so I'm 18 and will be alone in an airport from 11 pm to 9 am, and am incredibly worried on what will help me pass the time. I cant fall asleep because honestly I'm afraid I'll get my stuff stolen or never wake up and i cant bring a laptop because I'll be coming back from backpacking in Central America. So I was wondering if you possibly have any tips on what the hell i can do during my wait?

    • Clem-Blem profile image

      Clem-Blem 8 years ago from London, UK

      Great ideas and very true about delays safety reasons. Well done!

    • CharterJetService profile image

      CharterJetService 8 years ago

      Great hub! You could always sidestep layovers and long security lines by renting a private jet! If you are going to be traveling with a group of people, it is actually quite affordable. I am a fan :)

    • johnmce profile image

      johnmce 8 years ago from Brighton, UK

      how about surfing- most airports have wifi now if you've got a laptop on you

    • AdamCairn profile image

      AdamCairn 8 years ago from UK

      I think the best idea I ever heard was taking a pot noodle onto the plane with you, so that when the air hostesses go around with hot water for tea & coffee you can heat up some chick & mushroom.

      I'm not sure the other passengers would appreciate the stench though.