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Ways to Pass Time While Stuck at an Airport

Updated on March 25, 2013

Stuck At The Airport

Remember that movie,The Terminal, where Tom Hanks portrays a man who gets stuck at the airport and can't leave, lest he face possible arrest? That's how I feel sometimes when traveling. SFO, JFK, LAX... you name it and I've suffered the house arrest of airport failures. I've sometimes, as the character Hanks portrayed, found myself looking wistfully at the city I was stuck at, wanting to run off to visit it but didn't, on the fear that my flight would finally come through, arrive, or the weather would improve, or the ticket problem would be cleared up or... well, you get the idea.

I Will Leave This Dallas Airport, So Help Me God!

Waiting in the Dallas Airport
Waiting in the Dallas Airport | Source

Bored At The Airport? Watch A Movie on Netflix!

Things To Do During Your Layover

  • Spy on people. To do this properly, one must do as a spy does... blend in with the crowd. I personally prefer to go old school on this one by donning a hat, purchasing the requisite newspaper and pretending to read it, while inadvertently peering around the room at the strange and unusual folks doing their thing. Many of you know this form of entertainment as people-watching.
  • Window shop. I'm not someone who likes to pay full price for anything. It's a competition with myself to find a deal but how I love the nice, new things in shops! Some airport shopping areas are so large, they are virtual mini-malls, but with higher prices. I try to find those hidden deals, the sale items, or bargain down a normal priced item to the price I want to pay for it.
  • Find a bar. This is a terrific place to meet other people who are also stuck at the airport - like you! Share some laughs, some peanuts, watch the game or make a friend! If no one is around, you can usually chat up the bartender. I mean, how many times can they polish the same bar? Inwardly, that lonely bartender is dying for a conversation, just to break up the monotony of the polishing!
  • Examine the walls. Did you know many airports have either (a) real art or (b) historical displays? When I took my kids through the San Francisco Airport a few years ago, they remarked upon a display case there. Honestly, as a frazzled, single parent hustling along, I really wasn't paying attention to the walls. But the question, "What's that?" with a small finger pointing at the glass, slowed me down. It was a typewriter. I looked at my digital kids in a sort of horrified awe and asked them if they had ever seen one before. Two little heads shook back and forth - no. This is like the moment in the movie when time stands still and the room swirls around the main character... Never seen a typewriter! I learned to type on those! I take a second and remember typing class from high school - how those secretarial skills would be important for a girl like me, they said. Click-click-clack, swoosh, zing... click-click-clack, swoosh, zing. Then the next thought occurs: Man, I'm getting old.
  • Visit with friends or family. Skype or text or, if it is possible, speak, with a friend. Hey, speaking on the phone can be novel, for the texter. As a texter myself, I particularly like to call and speak to older relatives - the ones who don't get texters or texting and barely have a grasp on emailing. The shock in their voice when they hear that it's me is priceless!
  • Video record yourself and send it to others. This calls for a bit of creativity and no inhibitions. It's so enjoyable, you may soon find complete strangers wanting to get in on your movie making experience. They can be supporting characters!
  • When all else fails, cruise the internet. Grab a cup of coffee and your laptop or tablet and get comfy. There is usually internet for free at most airports. Watch a movie on Netflix or catch up on some work.

There's more than one way to pass the time in an airport.
There's more than one way to pass the time in an airport. | Source

The Airport Is A Curious Place To Get Stuck

In this alternate universe, we see the best and ugliest reflections of our society, from stressed and insensitive TSA workers to hurried restaurant staff, from laughing airline flight crews, to kind strangers helping each other. It's a place that can seem cold and unfeeling, with hard, straight lines and rows of seating facing the windows to a place that can seem joyful, with people cheering in bars or holiday decorations inside of shop windows and smiling retailers. As in the real world, it is what you make of it.

Each Year, A Few People Get Stuck In Airports - For Weeks

Why Have You Been Stuck At The Airport For More Than 2 Hours?

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    • Li Galo profile imageAUTHOR

      Li Galo 

      7 years ago from Mainly the USA but Sometimes Abroad

      Thanks, freecampingaussie.

    • freecampingaussie profile image


      7 years ago from Southern Spain

      A fun hub ! I have been at the airport for hours simply because that was the earliest we could get a flight back after arrival , I slept,read , Got on hubpages - watched people etc !

    • Li Galo profile imageAUTHOR

      Li Galo 

      7 years ago from Mainly the USA but Sometimes Abroad

      Stesand, you never know... You could get a million hits!

    • stesand profile image

      Steven Sanders 

      7 years ago from Santiago de Chile

      I think I will try th video record option next time and try to get some strangers involved... never know, I could become a You Tube sensation...

    • Li Galo profile imageAUTHOR

      Li Galo 

      7 years ago from Mainly the USA but Sometimes Abroad

      Thanks, prasetio30!

    • prasetio30 profile image


      7 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Very inspiring hub and I love your tips above. Thanks for writing and share with us. Voted up!



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