My 5 Favorite Things to Do On Airport Layovers

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I’ve spent a lot of unexpected time at airports in the past three weeks, so have had plenty of time to rank my favorite things to do to pass the time.

5. Go Online

Yes, I procrastinate on the internet on a daily basis, but I do so through embarrassing methods when I’m in airport mode.  Suddenly, my time shifts from chatting online to even less productive endeavors like reading through clever messages.

Procrastinating on my iPad…

4. Eat and Drink

When possible, I try to schedule my flights to connect through Chicago O’Hare because I’ll never go hungry there.  I always stop at Argo Tea for an incredibly overpriced beverage, but that’s often supplemented with a sandwich from Tortas Frontera.  Other favorite airport restaurants are One Flew South at Atlanta and Ivar’s at Sea-Tac for their salmon chowder.  However, no matter where I’m stuck, I can usually find something decent to eat.

Try the Ginger Twist

3. Walk

After I’ve consumed 500 calories, I feel an urge to burn them off.  Luckily, airports contain miles worth of walkways, so head to the furthest terminal on foot.  You’ll get bonus points for power-walking, double points for carrying your suitcase rather than rolling it, and triple points if you take the stairs instead of the escalator.  If you try hard enough, you can work up a sweat.  Just try to keep that body odor at bay so your seatmate won’t be too annoyed on the next leg of your journey.

They say you only need 20 minutes of activity a day!

2. Read

Traveling with a Kindle has changed my flying life for the better.  I no longer bother bringing mediocre magazines with me or get frustrated paying airport prices for a new paperback when I realize that I have four more hours to kill and no more reading material.  Instead, I just pre-load my Kindle with a few extra books and have plenty of entertainment.  However, even if you’re still a fan of physical books, reading is still a great way to spend your time on layovers.

Pays for itself when you don’t shop at airport bookstores.

1. Head to the Lounge

There is one really important thing to know about lounges: they’re just icing on the cake.  While I’ve read reports of some awesome international lounges, I’ve never been to one that’s really spectacular.  What they are is the perfect addition to my favorite activities in #2-5.  You’ll get free wi-fi to procrastinate on the internet, basic snacks and drinks, a shower for after your terminal work-out, and a quiet place to read.  Sometimes the terminal is more fun (better people-watching and usually better food than the free offerings) and often I don’t have time to get to a lounge anyway, but on long layovers, the tranquility makes the wait easier to deal with.

I had a comfortable visit to the recently upgraded T2 United Club at ORD.

EDIT: This contest is now over.  Reader Sharon K. has graciously donated a United club pass (expiring June 30) to give away, which you can use at United Club locations before the end of the month.  Though I will make every effort to get the pass in the mail ASAP, please don’t enter unless you can use the pass between June 15-30 just in case it takes awhile for the pass to get to you. To enter the contest, please leave a comment on this post with your name (First Name and Last Initial), a valid email address I can contact you at, and how you typically pass the time on airport layovers.  I will draw a winner using on Monday at 5pm EST.

33 thoughts on “My 5 Favorite Things to Do On Airport Layovers”

  1. I like Ike’s in MSP. Classy, with great local brews! Also, Sweetwater’s in ATL. It’s a brewpub, sense a theme? =)

  2. I usually pass my time at a United club. Just to get away from the massive crowds and find a little peace and quiet is such a bonus. I’ll be travelling to Newark in mid-May. I could sure use a UAL Lounge Pass for that trip. Thank you!

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