This post contains affiliate or brand partner links. Read our full disclosure here.
The new flyer may be surprised by the frustrating situations that can arise when traveling by plane. Delays are fairly common, as are long layovers and unfortunate overbooking situations. Over three million people worldwide fly safely on commercial aircraft each day, but unexpected frustrations do happen. After all, that’s a lot of people and planes to organize smoothly!
If you fly, at some point you’ll likely face some annoying time at the airport waiting for your next plane, whether for a couple hours or a whole day. It’s easy to resign yourself to sitting there staring at the wall of your gate. Believe it or not, layovers and delays can be great opportunities to have some fun and be productive. Here are a few tips that are frequent-flier approved for enjoying your airport stay.
Sleep… Pretty much anywhere.
Air travel is stressful. Know what’s more stressful? Air travel on no sleep. Lack of sleep has been shown in study after study to create a huge strain on your physical and mental health, including a greater risk of heart disease and stroke. Long story short, nobody will blame you if you simply need some shut-eye before being cooped up on another flight.
The best part? Nobody judges airport sleepers. If you don’t have the time, funds, or patience to get to a hotel, you can sleep in the terminal. Make sure your belongings are safe and accounted for and grab your headphones and a blanket. Curl up pretty much anywhere as long as you’re out of the way and not taking up five seats at a busy gate. Don’t forget to set an alarm or have someone wake you up so you don’t miss your next flight!
Check out the airport gym.
Yeah, we know, you don’t use the gym at home so why would you want to use the smelly airport gym? About 67% of people with gym memberships never actually use them. But isn’t this the perfect chance to finally take that trip, when you have free time and few other options?
Many airports have some really lux gym offerings, too. There are plenty of top 10 lists of best airport gyms, including picks like Chicago O’Hare Hotel’s facilities. O’Hare Hotel even includes an Olympic size pool and whirlpool!
Some airports offer spa-like facilities to treat yourself attached to or separate from their fitness center. Set-ups like O’Hare could run you about $20 for a day pass, but that’s not terrible when you compare it to other crazy air travel costs.
Ask around about any notable parts of the airport.
Many airports have some wonky and Insta-worthy features to check out. For example, Detroit Metropolitan Airport has an underground light tunnel between terminals that is a constant colorful light show accompanied by classic upbeat Motown songs. It sounds a little surreal, and honestly, it doesn’t get any less surreal when you see it in person. Many people post videos of the display on YouTube and social media as they pass through, so you can get an idea of what it looks like.
Denver International Airport is another odd one with plenty to ogle. Between its bizarre art, unique architecture, and the giant red-eyed blue mustang sculpture dubbed “Blucifer” by locals, you won’t be bored.
Even small airports are bound to have some unexpected sights — ask around about anything noteworthy.
Start a conversation with fellow travelers.
Some travelers like to chat and have fascinating stories to tell. Others don’t want to chat. Don’t force any conversations. If you happen upon someone who seems like they’d be interesting to talk to, say hello and ask where they’re headed. You could make some lovely connections.
Seek out quiet areas for religious or meditative time.
A lot of new flyers don’t realize that the majority of airports offer quiet spaces or chapels for multi-faith worship or meditation. Need a quiet moment? A place to pray for a safe flight or perform salah in peace? Ask the staff about the nearest quiet room. Some airports even have religious leaders on staff.
Remember that you can also treat time stuck in the airport as you would leisure time at home. Sure, you can’t hang out on your own couch in your skivvies. But you can call loved ones you haven’t talked to in a while, do some reading, or surf the web with airport WiFi. Being stuck waiting for a flight isn’t anyone’s cup of tea, but make the most of it and don’t let a little disappointment or frustration ruin your travel experience.