Three children sitting and watching an iPad

How to pass the time during a flight delay

One of the last things you want to hear when you’re travelling is: Your flight is delayed. However, it’s part of air travel. Flight delays happen all the time, and when they do, all you can do is hope that it’s a short delay and that your flight isn't cancelled.

Being stuck at the airport can be boring, and if you travel regularly, you have probably experienced a delay or two. The key is to anticipate delays. Frequent flyers know that the odds of a delay are good, and they make sure they are ready for delays by bringing things with them to pass the time.

Talk with the airline attendant

As soon as you find out about your flight delay, go directly to your gate and talk with an airline attendant to learn more about it. Ask the attendant about:

  • The status of your flight
  • The length of the delay
  • A possibility to get on another flight (if there is an extended delay)
  • Any instructions provided by the airline

Knowing this information allows you to plan accordingly. If it’s a short delay, you will probably stick around by the gate and wait, but if you have hours to go, you may want to grab a bite to eat and explore the airport. You don’t want to be misinformed and miss the boarding of your flight when it’s ready to depart.

Ten ways to pass the time during a flight delay

Here are 10 things you can do to pass the time during a delay:

  1. Take a nap: If you are delayed for an extended period of time, consider taking a nap. It’s a great way to shake off jetlag and recharge. However, make sure you set an alarm on your phone or your watch before nodding off. You don’t want to wake up to find out that you have missed your flight.
  2. Catch up on some reading: It’s always a good idea to bring along a book to read in case you’re faced with a flight delay. In the worst case, you could visit a shop at the airport and pick up a book or magazine. You could even read your travel insurance policy!
  3. Get something to eat: Why not head over to one of the restaurants at the airport and enjoy a meal and relax while you wait? Ask around for recommendations and try something new to make it a unique experience.
  4. Work: If you are travelling for work, use the time to get some work done. You’ll be ahead when you get to your destination or back to the office. You could also consider doing some professional development. Either way, using the time to be productive in a professional context is always a good idea.
  5. Go for a walk: Why not burn some calories while you are waiting to board your flight? Airports are big places. Walk through the terminals and do some low-impact cardio to break up the time. If the airport has a gym, consider getting in a quick workout.
  6. Window shop: While you are taking your walk, don’t forget to stop at the airport stores to do some window shopping. Who knows? You may even find something you need for your trip that you had forgotten to pack.
  7. Call home: Calling home to talk with family and friends is another great way to pass the time while you wait. Calling your loved ones to say hello and I love you will always be a welcome call.
  8. Surf the ’net: Wi-Fi access is one of the best things to happen to airports. You can complain about your flight delay on social media, chat with your family or friends, or catch up on the latest news. Just be sure not to do any online banking or access any private or sensitive information.
  9. People-watch: Airports are filled with people, making it the perfect place to sit back and watch those who are going by. If you are really bored, be creative and make a game out of it.
  10. Pamper yourself: Many modern airports are fully equipped with new-age conveniences, including spas. Pass the time by getting a massage, manicure or pedicure, or even a facial.

What you choose to do during a flight delay can make or break the experience. Rather than brooding about the delay and being in a bad mood, focus on how you will pass the time.