9 best things to do at an airport when waiting out a flight delay

Flight delays are a nuisance.

Not only are you at risk of missing a connecting flight or a crucial appointment, you end up having to spend more time in the airport. The summer of 2019 has already shaped up to be one of the worst for air travelers, as airlines have canceled or delayed flights and bumped passengers more than usual, according to CNBC.

While some places (read: New York City’s LaGuardia) offer just a few restaurants to spend your time at, other airports have plenty of things to do for delayed passengers.

But even if the airport itself doesn’t entertain you, you can still use your time wisely to get ahead at work or get some financial compensation from the delayed flight.

Here are the nine best things to do if your flight is delayed:

Indulge in the airport’s perks

These days, airports offer a lot more than fast food joints and magazine stands.

From spas to swanky restaurants, there are plenty of amenities available if you want to splurge during your extended airport stay.

If you’re in Qatar (and packed a bathing suit), head over to the swimming pool at the Hamad International Airport. In Hong Kong International, you’ll find a golf course, IMAX Theater, and an aromatherapy spa.

Go duty-free shopping

If you’re traveling internationally and have some foreign currency left over, try heading to a duty-free store — or items bought in a country without tax.

While you always save money on taxes, prices for certain goods vary by airport and country, according to the price comparison website Duty-Free Addict. Yet for items with high taxes outside the airport — like alcohol and tobacco— duty-free could be a good bet.

Some airports offer their own large selection of duty-free products you can’t get in the country. If you were looking for a deal on French perfume, for instance, Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport has good deals on Chanel, Hermès, and other high-end scents you can take with you in bottles over the 3.4-ounce requirement, according to The Points Guy.

Make a little extra money

If your flight was delayed and the airline is at fault, you may qualify for compensation.

While weather delays or issues with air traffic control won’t get you cash, losing your luggage or waiting on the tarmac for over three hours means you’re entitled to some compensation from the airline.

The app AirHelp tracks flight delays and sees if there are ways to get you compensation. The service gets compensation for as much as $700, and helps both domestic and international passengers.

Try to get into an airport lounge

If you’re delayed as a result of an airline issue, you can see if they will give you a pass to the airport lounge.

Lounges are often more comfortable than other seated areas around the airport, plus offer free food and drinks. If you’re going to be at the airport an extra couple of hours, you may as well be comfortable.

Airlines won’t be immediately inclined to give you a pass, however, so Skyskanner recommends asking nicely.

Catch up on work

Lifehacker writer Heather Yamada-Hosley said a flight layover offers time to catch up on work.

Her suggestions include:

  • Sorting through work emails in the airport so you can save time during your first day back from vacation.
  • Prepare your customs forms before you land.
  • Write a travel blog documenting your adventures while the memories are still fresh.

Take your kids to a play area

If in case you locked away toys and other supplies in your luggage, many of the major airports in the US are kid-friendly. Here are some of the best airports for children, according to to the blog Family Vacation Critic.

  • Chicago O’Hare International has 24/7 mothers rooms where you can nurse or relax with infants, plus an entrance to The Children’s Museum of Chicago’s play area.
  • The Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport has a children’s play area with the option of exploring parts of a real plane.
  • Dulles International Airport has an aviation-themed play area developed by NASA. Kids can enjoy interactive games, slides, and educational games regarding air and space travel.
  • Miami International Airport can help your child or other passengers with special needs prepare for their flight in a controlled, safe environment. The program, called MIAair, is a “dress rehearsal” for the real flight that was developed in part by the University of Miami-

     Fill up your water bottle

While this might only take a few minutes during your potentially long flight delay, filling up your water bottle after having to dump it out in security will save you money.

Airports notoriously hike up prices for bottled water — sometimes as much as $5 for a bottle you can get for less than a buck at the gas station.

Plus, Business Insider’s Caralynn Lippo said she fills up her bottle so she doesn’t get dehydrated in the air and “have to ask for 45 of those tiny cups of water the flight attendants give you.” Since air travel dehydrates your body and skin, make water your friend at the airport.

If your airport doesn’t offer free WiFi, trade scrolling through your Instagram feed for flipping through a magazine

Paying for airport WiFi can be a rip-off, says Smarter Travel. So if you have the option of paying for WiFi or using your time to unplug, choose the latter.

That being said, if you have emails to catch up on, there are hacks to get past the paywall. Smarter Travel recommends going to an airport Starbucks, which typically offers its own WiFi, or seeing if you can sit near a lounge that may have its own connection. Thrillist, meanwhile, says you can sometimes find WiFi passwords on Foursquare threads.


You’re going to be on a flight sitting down for however many hours, so why not make good use of the time you get to walk around?

If you tire of taking laps around the airport or don’t want to veer too far from your gate, here are some exercises you should consider:

  • Do lunges on the moving walkway: “The people mover that makes it easy to traverse miles of airport terminal space can also be an effective substitute for a track or treadmill,” Health Magazine says. “Just make sure you don’t run into anybody.”
  • Wall sits: “No seats available? No problem! Sit up against a wall with your legs at a 90-degree angle and hold it for as long as you can,” Skyscanner says.
  • Carry your luggage instead of rolling it: “For an extra challenge — and an unexpected core workout — carry your luggage by the handle, making sure to keep your body tall and straight,” WebMD recommends.Plus, some airports — like Baltimore-Washington International Airport and San Francisco International — offer their own gyms and fitness centers if you want a more intense workout. The Points Guyhas a full list of airports with gyms.

This article first appeared on Business Insider.