It’s happened to all of us. We’ve had a long layover at an airport, and there was nothing we could do about it but sit it out. Your layover doesn’t have to be boring!
I’ve spent hours stuck in Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, Minneapolis, and other airports long enough to know that if you follow the below recommendations, your time will fly by. In the meantime, enjoy yourself!
VISIT THE DUTY-FREE STORE
Let’s be clear. I’m not suggesting you spend a ton of money at the duty-free store. Instead, try on a new fragrance, volunteer for a make-up demonstration or men’s facial or try a sample of the gourmet chocolates they’re peddling. When you exit the store, you’ll feel refreshed (and smell divine!).
SHOP THE BOOKSTORE
Some bookstores are larger than others depending on the airport you’re visiting, but even the tiniest convenience store has entire shelves filled with reading material. I’ve spent up to 30 minutes or more just flipping through magazines and reading the latest headlines. Even better, purchase reading material to take back to your gate!
EAT LOCAL FOOD YOU’VE NEVER TRIED
You know the old saying, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Stuck in New Orleans? Try crawfish. Spending hours in Chicago? Dine on a hotdog with a cold local beer to wash it down. Waiting in Atlanta? Eat the fried chicken.
TAKE IN THE ARTWORK
Even the crummiest airports make an effort to put up wall displays of local artists’ work or historical timelines. I appreciate learning about Detroit’s water fountains or Wichita’s aviation history.
Instead of just sitting at your gate seat mindlessly watching people as they pass, consider imagining their lives. Who are these people? Where might they be going? Why might they be acting that way? Imagine their stories. Take it to another level and play this “game” with someone you’re stuck at an airport with and you’ll find they’ve concocted a different story for each person.
CHEER UP CHALLENGE
Tired of sitting? Take a stroll through the major traffic areas of the airport with one goal – to smile at strangers. I coined the name of this activity after a layover in Chicago at Christmas time. I began to notice that people were stuck in their thoughts and their faces showed their emotions. They were stressed, bored, or rushed. The goal of this activity is to smile at a stranger when you make eye contact with them. If they smile back, that’s one point for you (and a warm fuzzy for them!). If they don’t smile back, at least someone smiled at them. A total win-win.
USE YOUR AIRLINE CLUB PASS
If you have an airline club pass burning a hole in your pocket, use it! Even if you only have an hour or two to spend in the VIP Lounge, it’s worth it. Enjoy the complimentary food, and drinks (grab a wine glass or beer!) and relax in plush chairs while you recharge your batteries….literally.
GET YOUR EXERCISE
After hours of sitting on a plane and at your gate, get your blood flowing by taking a long walk through the airport. Of course, you may have to wheel your carry-on bag behind you. Commit to walking the full length of the concourse and back without using the moving sidewalk because we all know that’s totally cheating.
MAKE A FRIEND
Not everyone is cranky at airports. Not all people are weirdos. I’ve met perfectly nice people from my hometown while sitting in airports in other states. Now, that’s a trip! Pun intended. See someone who needs to charge their phone and is looking for a station? Move over a seat and offer the charging portal next to you. Be nice. You’ll make an instant friend. It’s that simple.