A woman stands with airport luggage, among a multitude of ways that she may pass time at an airport.

Seven Ways To Pass Time at the Airport

Here are a few ideas to help decrease any pre-flight boredom.
March 14, 2023
7 mins read

Flying can be made stressful by the rush of passengers trying to arrive at their flights on time, and others upset about delays or cancellations. During the holiday season, Southwest Airlines passengers experienced this situation when many Southwest Airlines flights were cancelled. With recent events in mind — and with spring break right around the corner — students who are traveling soon may wonder if they’ll find themselves with extra time in the airport. Leaving the airport entirely and exploring the surrounding area can sometimes be an option, but this is risky; missing important updates about a flight could lead to missing it entirely. Whether it’s flight delays and cancellations, or simply arriving too early for a flight, here are a few ways to pass the time while still making sure to arrive at a scheduled flight on time.

Think Ahead

Thinking ahead before travel can make passing time in the airport a breeze. Passengers may bring a few things to occupy their time, such as a book, a deck of cards, a different travel-sized game or even some work if they have any to catch up on. Bringing spending money is also a good idea, as it enables travelers to purchase food or other goods at a shop. Packing these important things is good in any instance, because even a short wait for a flight can become boring.

Memorize Necessary Flight Information

Memorizing the flight information might not be entertaining, but it can be helpful. Take a few moments to take note of the flight number, gate, airline and seat/boarding group number. While this information can sometimes change, knowing the important details on the morning of departure can help ensure that travelers are informed of any updates. Information about the airline, seat and boarding group number can usually be found on the tickets, while information about the specified gate can typically be found online. This may also be found on a large board at the airport listing the information for all arriving and departing flights. The ticket or gate agents are readily available to assist with any aspect of a flight that seems unclear.

Go Shopping

While airport shops can be expensive, there may be a few things to purchase, such as gum, magazines or books, which can be beneficial for the flight itself. However, many airports have stores with more to offer than mere flight essentials. In some airports, travelers can buy something nice, pick out a birthday gift or even get a head start on Christmas shopping. For example, one of the shops that can be found in the Baltimore International Airport is Pandora, located in Concourse A/B.

While adventurers will likely find some national restaurant and store chains in multiple airports, most airports have unique stores, restaurants and other sights to see. Doing some research prior to any flight can help inform passengers of what to expect, and help them plan out what they’d like to see and do.

Enjoy a Meal

Like stores, food amenities in airports can be expensive. Most airports have restaurants with a lot to offer, from healthier choices to snacks to fast food; it’s worth taking a few extra minutes to enjoy a meal. Some airports have multiple options for those who prefer a sit-down meal, or something quicker. For example, the Orlando International Airport offers sit-down restaurants such as Outback Steakhouse, as well as quicker options such as McDonald’s.

Walk Around the Terminal

While it’s a good idea to stay in the terminal to avoid missing important flight updates, simply walking around the terminal can be a great way to pass the time and get some exercise. Beyond shops and restaurants, one may encounter sights such as art displays or scenic views.

Watch a Movie or TV Show

Travelers who have a tablet, laptop or phone, as well as earbuds or headphones, may consider spending some time watching a movie or show via a streaming service. Watching a movie or TV show can make time fly by, especially if it’s an enjoyable one. With that in mind, travelers with companions should be sure to let them know they’ll be watching something. This way, their travel companion can inform them of any updates. For lone travelers, it’s a good idea to set an alarm on one’s phone for at least 20 minutes before their flight’s scheduled boarding time. This way, there is enough time to pack everything up and get that boarding pass ready.


Especially if it’s been a long day of travel, kicking back and relaxing, or even taking a nap, can be nice. Just like when watching a show or movie, travelers who are flying with someone else may want to alert them that they are taking a nap so that their companion can update them on the status of the flight. Solo travelers would do well to set an alarm on their phone for at least 30 minutes prior to boarding time. This way, there is enough time to wake up and get a boarding pass ready.

Even though traveling can be stressful, it can be enjoyable to see what an airport has to offer or to simply take some time to relax. One of the great things about airports is that each of them has something for everyone. Whether you need to pick up last-minute flight essentials or treat yourself, the ideal shop is around the corner. If you’d prefer a quick bite to eat, or want a sit-down meal, you’ll likely find a restaurant to fit your needs. These bustling travel hubs can be a nice respite from the outside world if you’re willing to explore.

Victoria Hock, Houghton University

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Victoria Hock

Houghton University

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