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Buckle Up For Your Next Delayed Flight With These Fun Free Ideas

While most of us are excited when we arrive at the airport, it’s natural to have some trepidation regarding the airport experience itself. After all, long check-in queues, uninspiring flight lounges, and extortionate airport prices aren’t anyone’s idea of fun. Sure, you’re looking forward to getting away, but the airport can feel like an undeniable hurdle enroute. 

Considering you’ll only spend an average of two hours waiting around, this needn’t necessarily be a problem. At least, it wouldn’t be if it weren’t for one pressing fact – an average of 30,000 flights globally are delayed every single day, with roughly 9,000 of those in the US alone. 

Luckily, these delays aren’t always lengthy, with an average delay resting at just 30 minutes. However, some flights are set back for potentially hours at a time, especially in the face of things like technical setbacks or a domino effect delay for flights later in the day. When this happens, you’ll need to find ways to entertain yourself, and fast. The problem is, with airport prices so high, it can be difficult to do this without blowing a huge chunk of your vacation budget. 

That’s why we’ve put together a list of fun free ideas for next time that airport announcement informs you of a dreaded flight delay. 

# 1 – Work out

We all know it’s vital to stay fit on vacation, so why not start at the airport? Admittedly, many airports do now have on-site gyms you could pay access to, but this could also be a fun free option wherever you are. You don’t need a gym to practice things like yoga and pilates, after all. You simply need a free corner, a mat if you’ve got one (or your coat if not), and the ability to get into the zone. 

A workout like yoga is especially useful in this instance because it can calm any travel anxiety, as well as stretching your body. That makes it invaluable if you’ve been sitting around for lengthy periods, or are feeling increasingly stressed about a delay that keeps getting longer. 

Some particularly great, and surprisingly subtle, yoga positions to try at the airport include – 

  • Mountain pose
  • Crescent moon pose
  • Tree pose
  • Upward salute
  • And more

If your flight is a long one, it might even be worth interspersing a few yoga stretches every hour or so. That way, you can stay entertained, and avoid the dreaded cramps that come from sitting in those airport chairs for too long. 

# 2 – Take a walk around

We’ll grant you, the airport might not seem like the best place to walk around, but you might be surprised. Large airports, in particular, can be real treasure troves in terms of interesting finds. For example, LAX is famed for having an amazing art gallery complete with temporary and permanent exhibitions, as well as cultural performances.

Changi Airport in Singapore offers everything from a butterfly garden to its iconic indoor waterfall and even a 24-hour movie theater. Vancouver Airport has two impressive marine exhibitions that are managed by the city’s aquarium. 

You just don’t know what you’ll find once you start to explore, so it’s always taking a look around. Even once you get bored of sniffing around all the airport goodies and shops, you might well end up stumbling upon an airport jewel that ends up enhancing your trip. So get walking, and don’t be afraid to delve into whatever your airport has to offer. 

Jewel Changi

# 3 – Make friends

Airports can be real cultural hubs, where people from all walks of life come together for a wide variety of reasons. Airport terminals are so rife with opportunities to meet interesting people that whole reams of books have been written about them, including ‘The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight’ and ‘Layover’.

Admittedly, meeting your soulmate in an airport like many of these books suggest might be unlikely (though it does happen!), but reaching out to make friends can turn a delayed flight into a true blessing. 

The best thing about this option is the fact you already have something in common with these people – you’re all stuck waiting for that one flight. Strike up a conversation about this, and see where it goes. Ask people where they’re going, where they’ve been, and whether they’ve enjoyed their stay.

If you’re heading to your vacation destination, these airport acquaintances have the added benefit of ensuring you know someone once you reach your destination. This could be great if you’re traveling alone, as you’ll then have the option of meeting up and exploring as a group at least some of the time. 

# 4 – Choose an online game

The other options mentioned are all well and good, but they probably won’t sustain or entertain you for the entirety of a 4+ hour flight delay. For that, you might want to head to your phone.

After all, you probably don’t have a chess board or a game of Monopoly hiding in your vacation packing, but you will inevitably have access to your phone. Our phones are fantastic at keeping us entertained at the best of times, and the airport is no different. 

The majority of airports now provide free wifi, meaning you can get your phone out and instantly start playing online games that might include chess, solitaire, and many more. Once you get stuck into that game, or start trying to beat your high score, it’s amazing how quickly the time will fly.

Before you know it, your plane will be at the terminal and you’ll still be stuck in play. The good thing is, as long as your phone has international roaming, you can also take these games abroad with you for anytime you get a free moment between excursions. 

#5 – Brush up on your language skills

Learning a language

If all else fails, why not take this time to brush up on your language skills? Whether you do this online or using a language dictionary, it can help your trip run more smoothly once you finally arrive.

This is an especially great option if you’re in an airport with no wifi and are traveling with a group, as there are some great games you can play with nothing more than your language dictionary, including – 

  • Dictionary: One person selects a word and the other players have to develop fake definitions before discovering the real meaning. 
  • Dictionary scavenger hunt: Task everyone with finding a foreign version of a certain word in their language dictionaries. The first person to find it wins. 
  • Mystery word: Give clues for a word in English that teams must guess before identifying the translated alternative. 

Even if you’re traveling alone, word apps like Duolingo offer loads of fun on-the-go learning methods that you could tap into at the airport. Then, you can feel far more confident in your language skills once you finally arrive at your destination. 


Airport delays might feel like the worst part of any trip, but there’s no reason this needs to be wasted time. Whether you’re waiting at the airport for half an hour or eight hours, fill your time with these fun, free options.

Then, you’re sure to arrive at your destination feeling fresh and excited and having racked up some unique experiences that will only make your trip more memorable in the long run. You’ll certainly feel better after these fun activities than you would if you simply curled up and tried to sleep on those terrible airport chairs! 

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