If you find yourself twiddling your thumbs while a flight is delayed, or just have a long layover at an unfamiliar airport, you may be drawn to the overpriced bar and grill (really, I don’t think this is too horrible a way to pass time–striking up conversations with other stranded travelers can be entertaining) or those mega-huge cinnamon rolls (only bad if you think 10,000 high-glycemic calories in one sitting are a problem).
But if you want to change up the ways you kill time in an airport, consider these tips:
Log onto the airport website(s) before your travels. Most airport websites have a directory of stores, restaurants and services. Get the scoop on which terminal or concourse you’ll likely land in, and familiarize yourself with what’s available.
If you’re traveling with kids, find the children’s attractions. Some airports have lame play areas (DIA’s goofy rabbit on on the Mezzanine level of Concourse B comes to mind), but Boston’s Logan International Airport has a branch of Beantown’s fabulous Children’s Museum. And little ones can pretend to be air traffic controllers and load luggage at the “Kids on the Fly” interactive play area designed by the Chicago Children’s Museum in O’Hare’s Terminal 2.
Consider a day pass to an airline’s lounge. If you don’t belong to a the Delta Crown Club or United’s Red Carpet Club, ask about day passes to the facilities, which might include showers, computers or complimentary snacks and drinks. Day passes range from about $30 to $60.
See what amenities you can use at an airport hotel. Again, it helps if you’ve done your research online ahead of time. But if you’re faced with a super-long layover, you just might be able to exercise at a hotel gym, shower, and make it to your flight in time.
Get rubbed. I always seek out the little chair-massage places in airports. Even just 10 minutes having the kinks worked out of my neck puts me in a much better mood before my next flight. I know exactly where the “A Massage” storefront is at DIA (that would be just across the way from the lame kids’ area in Concourse B). And I give huge props to the sleek Xpres Spa at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport
Enjoy some art. Most airports have some sort of public art display. Ask at the information center where you might find history, photography or fine-art exhibits.