Check Compensation
10 Ways to Pass the Time at The Airport During a Flight Delay

10 Ways to Pass the Time at The Airport During a Flight Delay

Nicolle Harwood-Nash
10 minutes read
Last Updated: December 21, 2023

A delayed flight, while mostly unwelcome, is an inevitable part of air travel. There can be many elements that can throw an airline's schedule off track. These can encompass everything from severe weather and technical hiccups with the aircraft to overcrowded runways, limited crew members, and even matters related to security or safety protocols.

At AirAdvisor, our industry experts are dedicated to improving your air travel experiences and ensuring you know your rights as a passenger. In this article, we provide you with a list of 10 ways to transform any flight delay from a frustrating wait into an opportunity for relaxation, exploration, or even productivity. 

So sit back, take notes, and prepare to turn your next flight delay into an enjoyable interlude.

Things to Do in an Airport to Pass the Time if Your Flight Is Delayed

Navigating a flight delay doesn't have to equate to boredom or frustration; airports offer a plethora of activities that can turn these unplanned interludes into an enjoyable and productive part of your travel experience. For instance, you could:

  1. Shop at the duty-free
  2. Relax in the airport lounge
  3. Make new friends
  4. Read a book
  5. Listen to a podcast
  6. Watch a movie
  7. Play cards
  8. Eat
  9. Research your trip
  10. Work

We discuss these flight delay activities in more detail below.

1. Shop at the Duty-Free

A great way to pass the time when you face a travel delay is to transform the inconvenience into a shopping spree at the airport's duty-free stores. Many major airports comprise a range of stores, from luxury fashion boutiques to cosmetics stores and gourmet food shops. These stores offer a tax-free shopping experience that could lead you to some great deals.

Flight delays are the perfect opportunity to pick up souvenirs for loved ones or treat yourself to something special you've had your eye on. Remember, retail therapy can be a delightful antidote to the frustration of a delayed flight.

2. Relax in the Airport Lounge

Why not upgrade your delay into a relaxing retreat in an airport lounge? Most of these lounges offer comfortable seating, quiet environments, free wifi and a variety of complimentary refreshments. Some airport lounges might require a membership or an entry fee, but it can be worth it for the peace and comfort they offer, especially during lengthy flight delays.

From catching up on sleep to enjoying a good meal, airport lounges can provide a haven away from the hustle and bustle of the main airport areas.

Disrupted flight? You might have a right to compensation - up to €600 ($650).Check Your Flight

3. Make New Friends

Airports are unique global crossroads, bringing together individuals from every corner of the world. As such, a delayed flight can open the door to new connections and friendships. As you find yourself alongside fellow delayed travellers, there's a shared experience that can serve as the starting point for engaging in conversations. You may find yourself swapping tales of past adventures, absorbing insights about diverse cultures, or collecting valuable advice about your upcoming destination.

So next time your flight is delayed, don't shy away from a friendly smile or a casual conversation - it could lead to an enriching global connection right in the heart of the airport!

a woman reading a book while waiting for her delayed flight

4. Read a Book

There's a certain tranquillity to be found in delving into a good book, a solace that becomes particularly valuable during the unexpected hiatus of travel delays. You can consider the unanticipated spare time as the perfect opportunity to finally start that book you've been meaning to read.

If you don't have a good read on you, the good news is that many airports host bookstores, offering a broad selection of genres to cater to diverse tastes. If physical books aren't your thing, eBooks serve as a fantastic digital alternative. After all, a good book never fails as a faithful companion that almost makes killing time a pleasure.

5. Listen to a Podcast

Podcasts have revolutionised the way we consume information and entertain ourselves and have become a great option for staying occupied during travel delays. Whether you're intrigued by crime mysteries, passionate about science, a fan of stand-up comedy, or on a path of self-improvement, there's a podcast out there that's likely to resonate with your interests.

Simply find yourself a comfortable spot, turn on your wi-fi, plug in your earphones and let the podcast carry you into intriguing conversations, enlightening knowledge, or amusing tales as you pass the time away. The immersive nature of podcasts makes them a wonderful antidote to the dullness of waiting for several hours in an airport.

6. Watch a Movie

Thanks to technology, you can watch movies or your favourite series anywhere. At most airports, you can usually access the airport wifi, which unlocks a trove of streaming platforms boasting an array of films and TV shows. Whether it's the latest blockbuster, a classic movie, or that series your friends have been raving about, a travel disruption can be the perfect excuse to catch up on your watchlist.

Ensure you've got your earphones to keep your viewing experience private and not disturb fellow travellers. If you're worried about battery life, look for charging points available in most airport terminals. Then sit back, hit play, and let the cinematic magic transform your waiting time into an enjoyable movie session.

a woman holding playing cards in her hand

7. Play Cards

Having a deck of cards in your travel kit is like carrying a pocket-sized guarantee of entertainment. Card games, with their variety and versatility, are an excellent way to keep boredom at bay during flight delays. From Solitaire to Poker, there's a game for every skill level and number of players.

If you're travelling alone, card games can become a channel to interact with fellow passengers, bringing out your friendly competitive spirit. A group of travellers huddled around a card game can also attract others, possibly leading to new friendships and memorable experiences. So, when packing for your next trip, toss in that deck of cards – you never know when they might come in handy.

If your flight was delayed, canceled or overbooked within the last 3 years, you could be eligible for up to €600 ($650) in compensation.Check Your Flight

8. Eat

A flight delay can be turned into a gastronomical adventure with the multitude of dining options available in modern airports. From food court-style chains to sit-down restaurants, and coffee shops to snack bars, airports have become culinary hubs that cater to diverse tastes and dietary preferences.

You can typically explore local cuisine offered by airport eateries or indulge in international dishes for a global flavour tour. You can also grab a cup of coffee or a dessert to sweeten the wait. This culinary exploration can not only fill your stomach, but also help the time fly by.

RelatedFood You Can Bring Through TSA: General Rules and Tips

9. Research Your Trip

A delay can often be a blessing in disguise, providing you with unexpected precious time to plan your trip in more detail or revise your existing itinerary. This can be an opportunity to further research your destination and learn about intriguing tourist spots, local customs, public transportation options, or even local cuisine you'd like to try. You might also use this time to check the latest weather forecasts and adapt your plans accordingly.

Remember, the better prepared you are, the smoother and more enjoyable your trip is likely to be. Use the airport wi-fi, plug in your device, and immerse yourself in the digital sea of information. Having to pass time at the airport might be inconvenient, but turning that time into a productive trip-planning session can be the silver lining you were looking for.

Also readHow Far in Advance to Book a Flight: 2023 Edition

10. Work

If you're on a business trip, or if your work life blends into your travel, you can transform unexpected extra time at the airport into an impromptu remote office session. With your laptop, tablet, or even just your smartphone, you can continue your professional tasks right there in the airport terminal. It could be an excellent time to prep for that upcoming meeting, reply to pending emails, or brainstorm ideas for your next project.

To ensure a productive work session, locate a quiet spot or a coffee shop in the airport and connect to the airport wifi. Be sure to keep your device charged; many airports have charging points for this purpose. By turning delay time into work time, you can keep your productivity up and maybe even lighten your workload for when you finally reach your destination.

First Thing to Do in Case of a Flight Delay

Flight delays can be frustrating, but knowing the right steps to take in such circumstances can significantly streamline the process of claiming any compensation you might be eligible for. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you effectively manage this kind of travel disruption:

  1. Gather evidence: When you first discover your flight is subject to a delay, your first step can be to collect evidence you could use to support a potential claim. This might include your boarding pass, tickets, receipts, and other travel documents, as well as any notifications or communications about the delay from the airline.
  2. Seek proof of delay: Ask the airline for a written statement confirming the reason for the delay and its duration. This is an essential piece of evidence when filing a claim for flight delay compensation.
  3. Document original and actual arrival times: Note your flight's original and actual arrival times. This difference could determine the amount of compensation you might be entitled to. Keep a record of the scheduled departure time and the time when your flight actually took off, too.
  4. Understand your rights and ensure you receive the care you deserve: Under EU regulation, in the event of a significant delay, airlines must provide care, which could include meals, refreshments, and even accommodation in some cases. Ensure you're receiving everything you're entitled to.
  5. File for compensation: Once you've collected all the necessary information and documented the details of the delay, it's time to file your claim. You can do this yourself directly through the airline customer service team or use a service like AirAdvisor, which can simplify the process with an online claim form and expert guidance.

Remember, every delay situation is different, and while these steps provide a general guideline, the specifics of your case may vary. Always ensure to understand your rights and responsibilities in the case of a flight disruption like a delay.

Compensation in Case of Flight Delay

According to EU261, as an airline passenger, you're entitled to compensation if your flight is delayed by 3 hours or more and the delay is within the airline's control. This applies to any flight departing from an EU airport or arriving at an EU airport with an EU airline. Compensation ranges from €250 to €600, depending on the flight distance and the length of the delay you face. The same rights apply in the UK under the UK261, covering flights departing from a UK airport and flights to the UK operated by a UK airline.

Airlines are also required to offer provisions, such as meals, refreshments, and, sometimes, accommodation, for delays of 2 hours or more. It's important to note that airlines are not obligated to provide compensation in the event of extraordinary circumstances, such as adverse weather conditions, strikes, or security risks, which couldn't have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken.

Figuring out how much you are owed for a disrupted flight can be complicated. We're here to help. Let us assess your compensation for you.Check Your Flight

Should I Still Arrive on Time at the Airport if the Flight Is Delayed?

Yes, despite a delay, it's crucial to arrive at the airport on time even if your flight is delayed because flight delay times can be revised, and the plane may leave earlier than initially predicted. Additionally, check-in times are usually unaffected by the delay, meaning you're required to check in at the originally scheduled time to avoid missing your flight.

How Do I Spend Less Money During a Flight Delay?

One of our top tips for spending less money at the airport during a fight delay is to be aware of your passenger rights. According to EU and UK regulations, if your flight is delayed by 2 hours or more, the airline is required to keep you fed, watered, rested and within reach of communication facilities without additional out-of-pocket expenses.

Back to News list

No feedback

Leave your feedback

Flight Compensation Calculator
Flight Compensation Calculator

Flight Compensation Calculator:

Check if you are entitled to flight delay compensation in just 3 minutes.
Free Instant Check

Free Instant Check

No Win, No Fee

No Win, No Fee

Ready to claim your £520 (€600) now?

It takes less than 5 minutes

Claim compensation

AirAdvisor has been featured in:

  • CNN
  • Forbes
  • USA Today
  • Mirror