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20 things to do at the airport when your flight is delayed

Written by 12 January 2011 24 Comments

During the last weeks, some of you might have been affected by delayed or cancelled flights due to bad weather conditions or strikes. While stranded at the airport because of unpredictable (or sometimes predictable) occasions, not being able to get home or away from home, bad karma is just around the corner and it is very easy to get angry at the world or the weather gods or any airline employee around you.


To keep you busy and beware you from airport boredom, we collected a list of things to do for you:

  • Use the delay as a conversation starter with the cute boy sitting right next to you
  • Go on twitter and search via hashtag who else might be stuck on your airport and find them (Iphone also has a location app that allows you to see who’s checked into the same location)
  • Spend your last coins of foreign money on airport souvenirs
  • Go to the duty free and get yourself a free makeover including the new kenzo perfume
  • Go around and convince a group of people to start a flashmob with you
  • Improve on the different ways of braiding your hair
  • Go to one of the bars, order a glass of red wine for probably 10€ and play the misterious lonesome lady to the barkeeper


  • Clean out your wallet (No, you don’t need those McDonalds Monopoly vouchers for a donut anymore!)
  • Lay on a bench and just enjoy the airport sounds for a while
  • Go online or call amnesty international and donate money to improve your (travel) karma
  • Go to the airport gym. Yes, some airports are equipped with gyms!
  • Check out the departures screen and see if you can correctly identify the countries for each of the destination cities listed


  • Use the free time to make some non-urgent calls, like that boy you haven’t talked to in a while or just to hear the voice of your mom for a moment
  • Find a quiet spot, turn it into a runway and make a video
  • Head over to an airline counter and make new travel plans. There’s usually good deals on discount tickets at the airport.
  • Grab a deck of playing cards and find someone for a round Crazy Eights
  • Use one of the moving walkways as a treadmill if your airport has no gym
  • Ask strangers to take their picture. Guarantuee for strange looks and making new friends at the airport.
  • Or try to find every letter of the alphabet on airport signs and make pictures of them. Guarantee for strange looks only.
  • If you are exhausted from all the entertainment, but you are still waiting: Go and buy yourself a giant toblerone. Chocolate makes the world a better place.

This post was written by Nina Hüpen-Bestendonk, who has a funny name even for Germans; she is a wicked go-getter and creative freelance designer, photographer and blogger.

She has an eye for beauty and even finds it in ugly apartment blogs. Her weekly photo chronicle “My week in pictures” has already become a classic among urban Berliners. Find out more at smaracuja.de.


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  • Fanni said:

    Ooh this is WONDERFUL! i wish i was Stuck in an Airport right now! :) Too bad that has to wait for another couple weeks but I’ll surely reread this article of my plane’s delayed!
    Great Blog, keep up the good work!

    xx F.


  • Anne said:

    Here are a few of my favorites.

    1. Find a Panhandler and ask for a sandwich.

    2. try to use every restroom in the airport…this is really hard to do at large airports.

    3.Go to the Book Store and read one chapter of a book in each section.(I was in Milwaukee’s Mitchell Field during a snow storm – they have over 50,000 books!)

  • Dawn said:

    I wouldn’t have thought it possible but you’ve almost made it sound fun to be delayed at an airport. I can’t believe that I’m looking forward to it happening!

    Can I just add – throw crumbs for any birds that have taken to living in the airport.

  • marie said:

    Awesome!!! I am flying home to Germany from an incredible study abroad semester in the US next week and I can’t wait to try out some of the listed things :)))))

  • Mark, Heathrow hotels said:

    Some of the suggestions sound kinda creepy and dangerous. I hope nobody goes first to the gym and then tries to be the mysterious lonesome lady!

  • Raymond said:

    A lot of boys would find it disturbing if I were to flirt with them, and a lot girls would find it disturbing if I were to attempt a makeover. I’m all in for the flashmob though… :>)

  • katja (author) said:

    haha, boys, i’m pretty sure nina was mainly adressing women with these tips :D

  • Nina said:

    Well, of course I was. But I’d really like to see a boy playing the mysterious lonesome lady, though.

  • Sabrina said:

    Great list! I’ll try to remember some of these for when I get stuck next time :)

  • Genevieve said:

    I always like to walk around and check out all the art, most of the time it’s done by local artist.

  • FM said:

    yaaaaawn…. try and be fun, or creative next time.

  • Come Fly With Me « gosiminternational said:

    […] for a short trip, just passing through an airport can be slow and frustrating. It’s worse for long-haul travellers, with jet lag and long waits for […]

  • Martina said:

    Wonderful! I like the part with the red wine and the mysterious lonesome lady ;)

  • Bill said:

    Most pathetic article I’ve ever read.


  • Backfromthe'port said:

    I was in BWI flying in from Texas, and they made us MISS our flight by ten seconds. WE DEMAND BETTER SERVICE!

  • Lauren@GreenGlobalTrvl said:

    I never knew airports had gyms, and I bet I would most likely take advantage of that during a delay. Thanks for making this list. Good luck in future travels.

  • Day Trip Dreamer said:

    Thanks for the smile. Loved your post. Hmm… which ones to try next time at the airport…

  • Lucy | gapyeardotcom said:

    Haha great post!

    I like the idea of making my own runway video – i am going to find myself wishing for a delay next time i fly.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Sara said:

    Hey this is such an awesome post I have been awake for 24 hours straight my plane got cancelled so I had to try to relax (just basically sit there or try to sleep) for hours and I didn’t want to sleep because there was creepy people walking around it was weird because the airport kicked everybody out of the airport at 12:00 if your plane got cancelled and u didn’t have anywhere to go for the night.it has been a long night and day but I still have 4 and a half hours till my flight (if it doesn’t get delayed it already got delayed held an hour) I will definitely try someof these things!

  • rosetta young said:

    That’s awesome I’m in an airport now and my flight was delayed 6 hrs.

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  • Charlie said:

    Great list Nina – especially like the flash mob idea! But you’re missing a key one – airport lounges.

    I recently booked one at Heathrow with No.1 Traveller and it almost makes you wish the delay was a bit longer. Granted you pay a bit more than these ideas but at least your wine won’t cost 10 euros!

  • steph said:

    the best thing to do is go to – http://www.flightdelaycompo.co.uk and start your claim for being delayed. We did and received £510 each for a 8hr delay!!! :)

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