Airport Boredom - 15 Things You Can Do For Free


Photo by: DaKaTotal

Written by Maak

Smart travellers get all the packing, checking and planning for their trip done, but even the most well prepared traveller can't control an airport delay. In the third of my series about airport boredom, I’ll be looking at some of the more fun ways of spending your time during the airport layover – and this time they are all for free.

Previuosly I've looked at airports to get stuck in and at 7 ways to avoid airport boredom. In this post I've listed 15 things to do in airports - for free.

Play Musical Chairs

Remember this game when you were kids. Place one a row of chairs, one less than the number of participants, somebody sings and when the person stops singing everybody has to sit on a chair. The person still standing no longer participates and the game continues until there is only one person left.

Play only at a gate where there is plenty of room – e.g. where the flight isn’t leaving for several hours otherwise you might get seriously unpopular with fellow passengers.

Power walk on the moving walkway

Photo by: OZinOH

Finding the longest moving walkway, power walk along it and see how many non-walkway passengers you can pass.

People watching

Watch other people – try and determine their nationality or simply watch their mannerisms, interactions and rituals and gain some valuable first hand knowledge about other people and cultures. Try and imagine what they do, why they are at the airport – even make up stories about them to pass the time. Once you've travelled a bit it's pretty easy to identify different areas of the world people come from - white socks and sandels, and they are bound to be Northern European.

Make a friend

It’s easy to strike up a conversation with people in the same boat as you are – not least when they are delayed and waiting. Ask them how they kill time at airports. Who knows, your delay may turn into a memorable experience. A colleague of mine told me the other day how his mother, whilst stuck in Oslo, ended up having a long talk with the lead singer from A-ha.

I spy …

Hard if you are alone, but if there a few of you, playing “I Spy, With My Little Eye, Something Beginning With <letter>”, is a great way to kill time – and perhaps notice some things you wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.

Bag bingo

You probably don’t have a bingo set with you, so make your own bingo cards depicting different types of bags – golf bag, yellow PC case, green roll on etc., and as you see people with different coloured bags or luggage, see who gets the first row.

Plane spotting

Photo by: roomman

Most airports have large windows where you can watch take-off and landings or try and identify the different types of planes. You probably aren’t the only person watching, and they probably know more about the different plane types than you do, so another way to strike up a conversation.

Destination guessing

Check out the departures screen and see if you can correctly identify the countries for each of the destination cities listed. If you’re a geography expert, then the additional options are guessing the time zone and longitude/latitude of the destination cities.

Last and Final

When the airline makes a “last and final” departure call for a specific person that hasn’t yet boarded, see whether you can get to the gate before the person being paged.

Dress a-likes

See how many people you can spot with the same top, the one you bought in H&M a few weeks back. You don’t need to be wearing it to play this game. See whether you can find passengers that are dressed the same way - this doesn’t work with business men, pilots or airline attendants, who always look alike! Consider introducing them to each other, they must surely get on when they are dressed in almost the same clothes.

Out and in 

If you are group, take in turns to leave the departure area and return via security. See how long it takes, and who can get though quickest. If you are alone you can do it several times to establish a record – and something to measure against next time you are at the same airport.

Take a ride

Photo: ykanazawa1999

As airports expand, there are more and more transport possibilities between terminals – buses, trains, monorails etc. Plan a round trip using all forms of transportation – include the buses to the rental cars lots and the long term parking as well.

You can even include a trip to a different terminal in the “out and in” game above.

Help-out at the baggage carrousel

Help elderly people collect their luggage at the luggage carrousel. Who knows, you might even make a tip or two.


You may not have anything to read, but the bookstores, newspapers and magazine stands, have plenty. Whilst they are not the public library, I have never seen anybody asked to leave for reading a newspaper or magazine. See how book covers you can read in 15 minutes – who knows, you may be inspired. Most people leave newspapers and magazines lying around once read, so another option is find a discarded paper and fill in the time (and even do the crossword or Sudoku).


Photo by: pocketmonsterd

If you haven’t packed your Yoga mat in your checked in luggage, a layover is a great time to meditate. Of course, not all exercises work at the airport – a headstand may cause a few raised eyebrows, but some breathing or stretching exercises will probably prepare you for the flight ahead.

How do you get through your airport delays. Add comments below!

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