How to not get bored at the airport: Top 17 tips to pass time in an airport

Aug 11, 2020 BY Luke Rees

We’ve all been delayed. Whether it is a strike, snow at destination, an ash cloud or just plain old ‘flight delayed’. You might just have a long layover or be at the airport ridiculously early. There are numerous reasons you may find these 15 tips to pass time in an airport useful. So read on to find out how to not get bored at the airport.

With Covid 19 curtailing many travel plans the number of flights around the world has massively reduced. Unfortunately, this has not meant an end to delays. Flight cancellations, often at short notice due to near empty planes, have affected reliability and can create knock on delays to other flights.

How to not get bored at the airport Top 17 tips to pass time in an airport Royalty free image from Pexels

All of this means you might end up spending more time in an airport than you expect. And certainly more than you would like. Even once Covid 19 is part of the history books and flights return to normal, knowing how to not get bored at the airport is very useful!

Top 17 tips to pass time in an airport

Everyone has been ‘gifted’ some extra time at an airport. But what to do? If it’s only a setback of 45 mins then there’s little to worry about. But when it’s several hours you need a little imagination to see you through and when its an entire day it can feel soul destroying.

So here are 15 tips to pass time in an airport.


I love reading and always travel with a book. So for me a few hours reading is always a nice way to spend time. If you don’t have a book with you you can always pick one up at an airport store or download to an e-reader on your phone or other device. Here are some must reads for adventure travellers.


Probably the number one pastime of the long-distance traveller. If you need to dissolve time, there’s no better way than to sleep through it. But on those chairs? And who decided to make rows of seating with fixed armrests, it’s cruel. So one of the best tips to pass time in an airport is to find the right seats in which to sleep – most airports have them.

How to not get bored at the airport Royalty free image from needpix

Phone and internet

For many people how to not get bored at the airport means getting online. Most airports offer at least an hour or two of free WiFi so you can surf the internet, stream TV or download a movie. Beyond that the connection may not be free, but with ten hours to fill it may be worth paying for more.


Even better download the entertainment before leaving home. If you are already prepared for a delay then you can watch a film on your laptop, tablet or phone without having to deal with Wifi. In fact many apps allow you to download shows and movies to watch later when offline.

Talk to strangers

These days as soon as anyone is bored they get their phone out. Resist the urge and instead talk to other passengers. With people from all over the world there are many interesting stories to hear and acquaintances to make. Meeting new people is a big part of adventure travel so why not start in the airport when your flight is delayed?


Airports are large places often with plenty of scope to stretch your legs. So if you have time on your hands go and have an explore. Afterall, if you are going to be sitting down on a plane for hours on end getting some exercise is a good thing. This is one of the top tips to pass time in an airport if you are health conscious.

Find the cactus garden

On the roof of Singapore Airport is an outdoor cactus garden with a bar and the world’s largest indoor waterfall – bliss. Obviously not every airport has these particular attractions but many large airports have something of interest. How to not get bored at airport? Wherever you are try to find that airport’s ‘cactus garden’.

Top 17 tips to pass time in an airport Singapore Airport Wikimedia CC image by Samyamlpradhan

Play in the kids area

For parents travelling with kids – not recommended if you don’t have them! – this can be a lifesaver. Most airports have a children’s area, often with slides, soft play and other things to keep your little ones entertained. Many families congregate in these areas so they get quite noisy but it means there are other children to play with.

Sort out

This is one of the best tips to pass time in an airport for backpackers. Rummage through your rucksack and give it a re-pack. Get rid of the banana peel you respectfully put into your top pouch. Shake out the inside – after a month of travel you’ll be surprised what ends up at the bottom of your rucksack.

Spruce up

There’s nothing better than a good wash, particularly if you have been adventuring somewhere without facilities. After a few days of wet wipe washes both you, and your neighbours on the plane, will appreciate a proper scrub. Even if your holiday didn’t feature extreme sports and the furthest you got was the beach, a good wash will leave you refreshed.


Nowadays it seems that to transit through an airport is more like a trip to the shops. I personally am not a fan and I am not convinced that ‘duty free’ is the bargain it appears to be. That said many travellers love shopping at duty free so clearly this it is a good way not get bored at the airport.


If you have a long delay you will often be given food and drink vouchers. While these probably won’t amount to much you can put them towards a meal. Now the airport you are stuck in will dictate your food options. Sometimes the best you can do is a premade sandwich, but at larger airports there are often appealing restaurants such as Jamie Olivers in Gatwick.

How to not get bored at the airport - Eat!Royalty free image from pxfuel


While getting drunk at an airport is not recommended… many of us have done it! Sitting in a bar, watching the world go is a nice experience, add some friends and it is really enjoyable. It certainly makes time go faster – just make sure you don’t miss your flight, or get so drunk they won’t let you on.

Access a lounge

In the past only business and first class travellers could access a lounge. But these days you can often pay to get lounge access. The cost is rarely much more than you would pay for a nice meal and a few drinks and often you can get deals. Once in you are in you have access to as much food and drink as you want, strong WiFi, comfy seats and often showers.

Play fart cricket

When much younger a friend and I were stuck in Geneva airport with raucous apres ski hangovers. We were both quite windy and came up with a game we called fart cricket. You probably don’t want to know the rules…

But playing games is a great way not to get bored at the airport. Whether you make them up yourselves, have a pack of cards or a travel friendly game it will help you pass time in an airport.

Get your geek on

This won’t work for everyone, but if you have always been fascinated by planes then airports are the perfect place to get your geek on! There are a group of people who visit airports just to watch the planes land and take-off. So find the viewing area and while away some time plane watching – anorak and notebook not required!

Royalty free image of take off from airport by pxhere

Do some work

Bear with me on this one! While most people go on adventure holidays to escape work this is not the case for everyone. Many people travel on business, or are self employed so will do some work while away anyway. For example, as a travel writer I always take a tablet that is set up to work offline so I can do some writing on route.

How to not get bored at the airport

While flight delays are frustrating you can use the time productively, have a different experience or do something that you enjoy. Whatever tips to pass time in an airport work for you cycle through them a few times and you will soon be settling into your seat ready for the in-flight entertainment.

Do you have any other suggestions of how to not get bored at the airport? No matter how weird they may be, drop them in the comments below.


Multi Activity
Airport, Delays, flights
Top 10s

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