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The Traveller's Magazine
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With snow and winter storms plaguing European airspace, you’re likely to have at least one delayed flight this winter, especially if you’re departing from the UK. How can you pass time at the airport and not be driven crazy? Here are just a few ideas.

Once you’re past security and near your gate there is only so much you can do without pacing back and forth until you’re as insane as the weather outside. When flights are cancelled or delayed it’s good to have a little humour and try to make the best out of the extra time you have on your hands (time you would never have at home in your busy life).

  • Evaluate exactly how much time you have and then hit up the airport’s amenities. Larger international airports have some great services that passengers are usually too rushed to enjoy. Amsterdam Schiphol has a free library and Singapore Changi Airport has a super slide thrilling enough to ride a few times. It’s not uncommon for airports to also have in-house hair salons if you need a new do, spas and fitness rooms, dentists for that cleaning you’ve been meaning to get, prayer rooms which are great for peace and quiet and sleeping pods for extra shut eye.
  • If your delay is more than four hours, you might want to try to get out of the airport. A short city tour for example is a great solution if the airport is near the city centre. Cairo’s airport offers half-day tours to the Pyramids of Giza! Los Angeles Airport offers tours of LA and Hollywood to passengers with stopovers of at least five hours.
  • Get your Christmas shopping done. Who doesn’t love discounted perfumes, wines and other designer goods for cheap? There is bound to be at least one duty-free shop in the airport where you can pick up last-minute gifts. London Heathrow Airport and Barcelona both have great shopping “malls” on your way to your gate… slow down and browse!

get a coffee and settle in

  • Skip the magazine and buy a book. Magazines are quick fixes but if you’re feeling agitated about the delay you’re likely to see yourself flipping through the glossy pages rather than reading their contents. Pick up a novel instead, find a free seat in a café and settle down with a latte for an hour or two.
  • Be the socialite. It’s not hard to find good company at the airport. There is a flight full of equally stranded travellers like yourself waiting there. Strike up a conversation at the gate, at the airport bar or restaurant with another solo traveller. There’s nothing that passes time like a good conversation.

How do you pass the time when you’re at the airport? What were the best airports to be stranded at?

Img: hyogushi / nicola Flickr cc.

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7 responses to “How to pass time at the airport when your flight’s delayed

  1. In our own time it has been seen… that simple children, roughly brought up in the wilderness, have begun to draw by themselves, impelled by their own natural genius, instructed solely by the example of these beautiful paintings and sculptures of Nature.

  2. Hi Jeff!
    Those are great ideas, especially love the set a new world record, a very creative way to make something out of a holiday and get your name in the record book.
    Sounds like you know a thing or two about making the most out of an airline delay?
    Thanks for the comment,

  3. Looking for even more ideas? How about using the time to set a new World Record? Deleting all the contacts you never use from your mobile (feels great!). Learning a new language with an audio course. Boning up on your pick up skills (an airport is the perfect opportunity to talk to hundreds of potential singles…)

    Delays are horrible, but all you have to do is be creative!

    -jeff michaels
    Author of Please Hug Me—I’ve Been Delayed: The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need to Survive the Not-So-Friendly Skies

  4. Hi Tassan, thanks for your comment! It's true, at some of Europe's smaller airports there is a lack of services, especially if you're stuck at the airport over night.
    As far as shops are concerned, most if not all airports do have a news stand of some kind with reading material (I always say bring your own) and nestling in to read a good book always works for me!
    Sorry you've been stranded so much lately, this weather's been awful!

  5. Having been stranded several times during the last two weeks because of snow over Europe I have to say that many of the proposals above did not exist or work. After “closing hour” shops and cafés are closed even if passengers are still around. Sometimes the best service is before security screening but the passengers are not told to benefit from them and wait to pass security. All in all service and useful information during these occasions was useless and/or kept very low standard regardless of airport. I could have spent five times more at these airports if I had had good advise and open facilities…

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