Productive Things To Do While Waiting at the Airport

Updated: September 8, 2023

One of the perks of having control of your own time and being your own boss is the luxury of travel.

However, while going to other places far and away can be fun – waiting for hours stuck at the airport is not.

It happens… technical problems, weather conditions, air traffic, and other reasons could occur, which eventually delays your flight – leaving you with no other choice but to wait for hours at the airport.

While these reasons are beyond your control, you can, however, choose how to spend your time wisely and not waste it staring out the runway worrying about your ruined schedule.

Hopefully, these tips and suggestions can help you become more productive and likewise make those hours of waiting time pass by quicker.


Yes, it’s always better to sleep than just sit and do nothing. Your body gets to rest, and time will indeed pass by quickly. Just be sure to secure your belongings first, especially if you’re traveling alone.


Get a newspaper or a magazine and read. If you brought a book, which I think is always a smart thing to do when traveling, then bring that out and start “feeding your mind.” Doing crosswords and Sudoku puzzles can be productive for your mind too.


Most people I know who go on vacation bring some work along with them. While I don’t recommend working during vacation (that’s why it’s called a vacation, right?) – doing some while stuck at the airport is perfectly fine with me.


Now this is something people don’t usually do despite being a productive use of time. Whip out your cell phone and organize your phone book (remove duplicates, delete old numbers, update names, etc.). Turn on your camera and organize your vacation photos (delete those blurred and ugly pictures before anyone sees them!).


Most airports have internet access. If you have your laptop, then why not do some work or check and organize your email inbox? You can also do some productive reading online if you want.


Get a pen and paper and write your things to do for the week. Feeling inspired? Compose a poem. Feeling entrepreneurial? List down some business ideas. Feeling that your life is stuck just like how you physically are at the airport? Then put those thoughts into words, create and write down new life goals, and draft a plan.


I’ve really seen people do push-ups and abdominal crunches while waiting at the pre-departure terminal. There are also people who do some stretching, while others, including me, would simply brisk walk around the airport.


Enhance your social skills by talking to your fellow passengers. Be friendly and make sure you’re not disturbing them from their privacy. Sometimes, just giving out an audible rant about the delayed flight could serve as an icebreaker between you and the passenger beside you.


I would have said, “Shop,” – but retail therapy is not exactly what you can call productive. Rather, I choose to say do some market research. Go to the stores, look around, talk to the sales staff, observe people – a good business idea could suddenly spark.


The air travel industry is a service-oriented business, and you’re a customer who has the right to ask for quality service. Talk to a manager or the airline customer support and ask if they can offer anything for the inconvenience. Some airlines would actually give free meals and hotel accommodations, complimentary seat upgrades, transfer you to another flight for free, or give out travel vouchers.

How about you? Have you ever been stuck at the airport for several hours? What did you do to pass the time?

The draft of this post was actually written at the airport! 😀

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Photo credit: BriceFR and Michael Osmenda


  1. ei Fitz, great list! =)
    I for once also stranded on Cebu airport for a few hours and really, there’s not much things to do inside(of-course, that’s before I’d read your list). So to let those time pass without getting bored, I’d grab a couple of beer-in-can and a plastic of ‘chicharong bulaklak’ then place myself on one of table, enjoying those ice-cold beer and listening to my music while waiting for my flight. 😛

    Also checking out a few stalls inside and get some business ideas. =)

  2. Nine hours?! Ugh! What an experience! Whenever I travel, I bring a book with me or a small (paper) notebook where I can write my thoughts. 😀

  3. Whoa! Nine hours??! They should have moved your flight the next day and just gave you a free hotel accommodation for the night.

    I experienced a delayed flight when I visited my cousins in the U.S. sometime back. Even though it was only for a couple of hours, I still received a $10 free call card. One time, there was also a problem of over booking on one of my connecting flights. To solve the problem, the airline gave out a $500 incentive to someone who’s willing to take the next flight instead. I would have grabbed the opportunity had I not been afraid to spend the night in a city I barely know of. =)

  4. Awesome list. For a while, the only thing I was really doing while waiting was reading (usually at a high cost, since I’d pick up something at the airport shops).

    Ever since I got my 11-inch laptop that I truck along everywhere, it’s a lot easier to get some work done wherever I happen to be waiting.

  5. Sorry to hear about the rough experience! I’m a big fan of sitting by a plug, listening to some music, and getting some quality work done on my computer with the free wifi many airports have. The experience is a lot less painful if I at least feel like I’m being productive. Great ideas here!

  6. When at an airport I have a hard time blocking everything around me out and relaxing. I am so happy that I have the Sling adapter from DISH Network; I can stream live and recorded TV to my android phone and other mobile devices. I actually have and work at DISH and you can use this function wherever you have 3G coverage or simple WiFi. So I can put some headphone on and relax while enjoying my favorite shows.

  7. Things to do: Window shopping, not to buy but compare. Sight seeing, the beauty of traveller. Ask/talk to a stranger. Its good to walk in the airport because 15 hrs flight sitting down is not good for my feet.

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