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Eight Tips to Kill Time at Airports

Aircraft Parked at Departure Gate


Using Airports for Scheduled Departures

Since 2003, I have spent a lot of time in airport terminals waiting for both domestic and international flights. Due to concerns about long check-in lines, passing through immigration, and getting through security screening lines, I have usually arrived at airports at least two and one-half to three hours before my international departures. Nevertheless, by arriving at airports early enough, I still have time to kill before boarding my flights.

In this article, I suggest seven tips that I have used to successfully kill time at airports while waiting for scheduled flights.

1. Eating and Drinking

It never fails that most of my flights depart during mealtime. Whenever I fly from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport to the United States, my departure time is at six or seven o'clock in the morning. For many domestic departures in Thailand, my flights leave around noon or six or seven in the evening.

In satisfying my hunger, I will usually eat at a fast food joint like Subway or MacDonald's in a food court or a Thai-style sit-down restaurant when flying out of Udorn.

At almost all international airports, there are lounges or sports bars that serve alcoholic beverages. Very seldom will I frequent these bars because many times I receive complimentary wine or beer on flights.

If you have a place to sit down, you can usually kill at least 30 minutes or an hour by eating or drinking.

A Hong Kong Airport Restaurant


2. Talking with Passengers

It always makes the time pass faster while waiting to board a flight by striking up a conversation with a fellow passenger. If you are traveling with friends or relatives, this is very easy to do. Traveling alone, however, is somewhat difficult for a shy and introverted person. Just the same, you will make your journey much more pleasant by breaking out of your shell and having a friendly chat with the individual who is waiting next to you.

Talking with Passengers While Waiting for a Fight

Taken at Udonthani Airport on 04-13-15.  My wife is talking with my neighbor and his wife who accompanied us to Hong Kong.

Taken at Udonthani Airport on 04-13-15. My wife is talking with my neighbor and his wife who accompanied us to Hong Kong.

3. Going Shopping at Duty-Free Stores

Although I hate shopping, looking for gifts in airport duty-free shops is a great way to kill time. In the past, I have purchased cigarettes, liquor, and cosmetics. On our recent trip to Hong Kong, my wife was searching for the Coach brand of handbags in duty-free shops.

4. Using Smartphones and Tablets

When traveling in 2008, I saw a lot of passengers using their laptops in airport terminals. Today I don't see many laptops, but it's amazing to look at the number of people who are carrying smartphones and tablets. I don't have an Ipad yet, but I do have a smartphone that helps me kill time at airports. In addition to the few calls which I make and receive, the smartphone is used for internet surfing, taking pictures, and shooting videos. I probably could do more, but I haven't learned how to use all of the apps on my smartphone yet.

If I had a tablet, like most people, I would be tempted to take selfies, and then with my wife look at a lot of photos. The Ipad would also be nice for taking some videos at the airport. I'm not into playing online games, but this certainly would be another great way to kill time at airports.

Taking a Photo at the Airport

Photo was taken inside Taipei International Airport in November of 2014

Photo was taken inside Taipei International Airport in November of 2014

5. Reading

Whenever I have a long layover at an airport, I make sure I am carrying a good book. Exciting action thrillers like The Bourne Retribution or Jack Clancy books are a must. Books like these will keep me captivated, and it's amazing how fast time passes.

6. Using Airport Lounges

Airport lounges are operated by most major airlines for business and first-class passengers. The accommodations at these lounges include comfortable seating, WIFI access, free drinks and snacks, showers, and a much quieter environment. While working for the government, I often traveled business class and was able to use United Airlines' United Club and the former Northwest Airlines lounge. Frequent fliers may also in some cases have access to these airport lounges. I can't think of a better way to pass time while waiting for a flight.

7. Watching Passengers

Finally, watching passengers can also be a nice way to kill time. As a man, I enjoy looking at beautiful attractive women. At an international airport, you also will see so many interesting different kinds of people from countries all around the world.

Takeoffs and Landings

At Terminal 1 in Hanida Airport June 2019.

At Terminal 1 in Hanida Airport June 2019.

8. Watching Takeoffs and Landings

In June 2019, I had an eight-hour layover during the day at Haneda Airport in Tokyo, Japan. I killed part of the time watching the takeoffs and landings of numerous aircraft. Either ANA aka All Nippon Airways or Japan Airlines operated most of the flights I saw. During one 30-minute period, planes were either taking off or landing at the rate of one per minute.


There are other ways to kill time such as playing card games with friends or looking at exhibits in many of the airports. If you are a smoker, you can also go into designated smoking rooms to satisfy your cravings and pass the time. The tips that I have suggested in this article always work for me.

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Killing Time at Airports

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2015 Paul Richard Kuehn


Duhamel on October 14, 2020:

Article was common sense and not worth reading

Writing these is also a time killer

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on January 12, 2016:

Alun, excuse my delay in answering this comment. My ultrasound was clear. I have another one scheduled in May of this year. Thanks for your comments!

Greensleeves Hubs from Essex, UK on November 30, 2015:

Spending time at an airport is not one of my favourite activities! Not having a smart phone or ipad, it would be nice I think to have gaming devices or a public TV screen to watch - something which isn't usually available in the general public area. Having said that, my oddest experience ever was in a late night bar at Nairobi Airport Kenya. I was the only person there apart from the barman, and there was a TV screen showing a soft-porn film!! Not what you expect in a public place! The barman just grinned, and I don't know if it was by accident or design that the film happened to be on screen at that time :)

I try to arrive as late as I reasonably can at the airport, whilst always allowing for possible travel delays, so I just have time for a meal and a wander around the various concourse shops before heading off to the departure gate.

Paul, on another matter, I hope your recent hospital visit went OK and the investigation results were good news for you. Best wishes, Alun

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on May 30, 2015:

Thanks for commenting! Why haven't you ever flown? Are you afraid of flying or just prefer driving or taking the train. I'm pleased you found this hub interesting and useful and really appreciate you sharing it on HP.

C E Clark from North Texas on May 30, 2015:

With so much time to kill it might not take any longer to drive than to take a domestic flight inland. Believe it or not, I have never been off the ground on an airplane!

A person could probably write a new hub with all the time to kill waiting for their flight at the airport. ;) Voted up and useful/interesting and sharing on HP.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on May 29, 2015:

Yes, a cool beer while socializing with people can be very enjoyable while passing the time. I'm happy you liked this hub.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on May 29, 2015:

Yes, watching shows and youtube videos is also a good way to kill time.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on May 29, 2015:

Yes, deleting unwanted emails and messages is a good way to pass the time. Watching passengers can sometimes be very interesting.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on May 29, 2015:

Thanks for your comments, Lee, and I am pleased you liked this article. I appreciate you voting this hub up!

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on May 29, 2015:

I know it isn't the most economical way to do things, but I do enjoy having a beer and socializing with other travelers when I have a layover at the airport.

Great read!

mikeydcarroll67 on May 29, 2015:

I usually use my smartphone-get caught up on all of the shows that I like to watch.

georgescifo from India on May 29, 2015:

Deleting my unwanted emails and messages on my smartphones is one of the best way that I choose to kill my time at the airport. There are also other options like watching passengers from different countries, and other various activities at the airport.

Lee Cloak on May 29, 2015:

Sound advice I am sure most people can use as most of us have probably experienced delays at airports, thanks for sharing, voted up, Lee

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