Do you hate finding out your flight’s been delayed for an hour—or even a day? Here are some ideas to help you turn airline flight delays into un-wasted time!

If you’re stranded for a few hours… Airplane photo

  • Thousands of airports now have Wi-Fi. So if you brought your laptop as carry-on or you’ve got a mobile device, you can get online. This is a good time to catch up with friends, family, or business. If your delay is going to take most of the day or overnight, you can get online and start researching local activities before you leave the airport. If it’s only a short delay, you can use the extra time to research more about your destination. Maybe you’ll discover some interesting landmarks to visit that you wouldn’t have otherwise planned on seeing!
  • If you’ll only be delayed a few hours and you don’t want to leave the airport, you can have a walk around to see what kinds of shops and amenities the airport has to offer. This may also be a great time to call the hotel you are staying at and inform of the plane delay so there aren’t any problems with check-in. While browsing around, you will find that many larger airports have extensive gift shops which sell souvenirs. Some airport gift shops are very unique though and carry distinctive lines. This is a great time to catch up on holiday and birthday presents for friends and relations. There are also usually restaurants at airports. The food’s generally better in the airport than the food on the plane, so you might as well eat now and skip the airplane meal, especially since many cross-country flights no longer even serve food!
  • Lots of airports, even smaller airports, have art exhibits. These exhibits display work by local talent. Sometimes airports also have historical exhibits, especially if the airport played an important role in aviation history.
  • If you’re in an international airport, this can be a fun time to strike up a conversation with another stranded traveler. You may meet someone interesting from another country, or use the opportunity to work on your foreign language skills, etc.

If you’re stranded for a day or more…

  • As frustrating as a long delay can be, you should get out of the airport and check out the local area. Even if you think you’re stranded in a dull city, you may be surprised at the culture you can soak in over a couple of days. After all, it may be the one time you ever visit that town or even that country, and nearly every place has some kind of special history, culture, scenery, or entertainment. Try the local cuisine, go to a local festival, or visit a famous landmark. Think about it: You have the opportunity to experience the very best a place has to offer, and avoid all of its drawbacks. No one is freer to enjoy a place than a transient traveler. Sometimes it’s the experiences we stumble into by happenstance that really stick with us—not the ones we planned.
  • Stranded in a small town? Even small towns can offer an engaging experience for the stranded traveler. The little bars and diners in small towns can offer you a taste of the local flavor, and if you have the money, you can rent a car and drive out of town. Rural towns are often set in exquisite countryside.

On a business trip?

  • If you’re traveling on business and you’re utterly bored, why not get some work done while you wait? If you were planning to fill part of your travel time with work and you get it done early in the airport, you can free up time to spend on your own once you reach your destination. You may have an easier time focusing in the interim while you wait for your flight than you would later if your ultimate destination is an exciting one. While your delay itself may not be fun, it can pay off in fun later.

If you can take in some of the local environment while you’re stranded between flights, go for it! If you can’t leave the airport you can always explore the airport’s exhibits, go shopping, or get online. If you’re still packing for your trip, consider planning ahead. Bring along a project you’ve been meaning to work on which fits in your carry-on luggage, or a novel or trade journal you’ve been meaning to read. Airline delays don’t have to be boring, and whether they become a waste of time is entirely under your control.

This post was written and provided by freelance writer and consultant forExpedia, Erica Gustafson. She enjoys traveling the world where airline delays can become a regular issue. She has used many of the tactics listed above and turned wasted time into valuable time when waiting for her flight departures.


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