I have a confession to make.
I kind of love airports.
To clarify, I don’t love waiting in long lines full of passive-aggressive (or just plain aggressive) people. I don’t particularly enjoy being frisked by security. And I always feel nervous watching my bag float off down the ramp, mentally crossing my fingers that I will meet up with it again. But once all those things are cleared, I get excited about my upcoming trip.
For many people, though, the airport is a place where dreams go to die, where you’re stuck waiting forever, your spirit slowly crushed. It doesn’t need to be this way! There’s lots of things you can do to pass the time before take-off – here are seven of my favourites.
As I mentioned in a previous post about the new yoga space at the San Francisco airport, I often get weird looks when I stretch before flights. Laugh all you want, strangers; it’s really important to get your body comfortable before a flight, particularly if it’s a long one. In addition to stretching for about 15-20 minutes, I like to do lunges (frankly, I like to do lunges anywhere), shoulder rolls and calf raises to prepare my limbs. Don’t forget to stretch during your flight too – check out Quantas for some great inflight health tips. If stretching’s not your thing, just walk briskly around the terminal – you might find something neat!
6. Charge Your Electronics
In Kuala Lumpur I had four hours to kill before my connecting flight, so I found a quiet corner with three leather massage chairs and promptly unplugged all of them except for one. Then I plugged in my camera and laptop chargers and hopped onto the third chair and relaxed while my electronics refreshed themselves.
5. Catch Up on Emails
Many airports now thankfully offer free WiFi, so why not take the time to catch up on some emails and send a few hellos home if you’ve got the time? It’s also a great time to back up any files (from your camera or otherwise) while you’re waiting for your various electronics to charge.
4. Check out the Amenities
Airports nowadays are more than just waiting areas for takeoff, so check out how much time you have to kill and find some fun. Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport has its very own library, which highlights Dutch architecture, visual arts, design, fashion and history. Hong Kong International Airport has a nine-hole, USGA-approved golf course adjacent to the airport, complete with a Thai restaurant, putting greens and a club house.
But the most…interesting…amenity I’ve come across has to the Fish Valet service operated by the Fairmont Vancouver Hotel. If you’ve spent your vacation in British Columbia fishing and want to bring your prized catch home, Fairmont will store your fish in a 575 cubic foot departures-level fish freezer, and will transfer it directly to your flight home.
3. Hit the Duty Free
Didn’t have time on your travels to pick up a gift for someone you should have? Perhaps you want to splurge on some fancy perfume or cologne? Or maybe you just want a giant bottle of booze to take home. Whatever you’re looking for, the duty free is a fun way to pass the time and pick up something you likely don’t need, but really want anyway. A Toblerone bar the size of a baseball bat? Sure!
2. Make Up Useless Games
For some weird reason, I like to look at the arrival and departure boards and see which flight is coming or going the furthest distance from that particular airport. This game lasted FOREVER when I was in Honolulu, and I even got strangers involved who had initially mistaken my staring at the board as a sign I was lost. No, m’am, I’m just playing a really dumb game. Oh, you’d like to play too? NEAT!
Eventually I get bored of that game, so then I try to find a city I haven’t heard of before, and then totter off to find WiFi to look up where it is and learn something about it.
I am fully aware of the nerdiness of this game.
When all else fails, particularly if you’re at a small airport or there aren’t many fun distractions, find a good, quiet row of seats (or perhaps a sleeping pod if you’re at Heathrow or Vancouver) and take a nap. Nothing passes the time like spooning with your luggage.
How do you like to pass the time before a flight? Leave a comment below!