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Top Ten Things to do when Stranded at the Airport

stranded at the airport
When was the last time you’ve been in a rush to get somewhere (or get home) and found yourself stranded at the airport?
At my most recent “extended layover” my incoming flight from the East Coast got delayed two hours due to weather, then was forced to land in Nebraska due to severe thunderstorms at Denver International Airport (DIA). On top of all of that, computers for United Airlines went down at DIA making it impossible to re-book on any other flight.
If you travel with any frequency or deal with connecting flights – I’m sure you’ve been there – that 40-minute connection turns into a 3 or more-hour delay. The next time you get stranded, assuming you don’t have access to a posh airport club lounge, here are some tips to help make your delay a little less miserable:
1) Be patient – No matter how much you scowl, pace, throw your hands up, curse, or yell at the person behind the gate counter (whose day is probably even worse than yours) …it’s not going to get you to your destination any faster. It’s out of your control, so the best thing you can do is just be patient. When you look at the arrival time on your boarding pass, consider that a best-case scenario… always build plenty of buffer between when you are supposed to arrive and when you need to arrive to accommodate for the unexpected.
2) Get some food – If you have an extended delay, find a restaurant where you can sit down and relax (no fast food). Nothing calms frazzled nerves more than some comfort food and a cold beverage. Go to Yelp and find a restaurant in your terminal that gets good reviews (if you have time, consider options at connected terminals as well). Airport food is expensive, but even if you order a plate of appetizers and a glass of water just use the time to relax.
3) Get some sleep – One of the hardest things to do in an airport with all of the noise, distractions, and uncomfortable chairs is sleep. The first thing I do is find a quiet gate with few people and find a chair that is somewhat comfortable. Then I set the alarm on my phone and put earbuds on, so I hear the alarm go off in 40 minutes, so I can check the status of my flight again. If you are traveling with luggage, use them as props for your feet or head to help keep them safely in your possession.
4) Do some shopping – Not every airport has great shopping, but sometimes this can be a good place to pick up a gift or souvenir that you didn’t previously have time to do. If nothing else, just take your time to window shop and look around.
stranded at the airport
5) Get some exercise – Hope you brought your walking shoes, because bigger airports can be a great place to do some power walking and get in some light cardio while waiting on your delayed departure.
6) Get work done – I find that traveling with my iPad is a lot more convenient than a laptop, but no matter what device you have along (even if just your phone) use the down time to get caught up on a work project. Grab some coffee, connect to the airport Wi-Fi, put on your headphones, and make use of your down time.
Watch a movie
7) Watch a movie – If you have Netflix at home be sure you have the App downloaded on your phone or mobile device. Even if you don’t have a movie downloaded, connect to the airport Wi-Fi to stream. Another great option for Amazon Prime subscribers is Amazon Prime Video. You get access to a pretty extensive playlist that can be downloaded or streamed on your mobile device.
8) Make some new friends – If you are stranded at the airport, chances are others are too, and are probably as anxious as you are to get to your final destination. If someone looks bored, open with some small talk (Like: Where are you headed? Where are you coming from? Is that home? Are you delayed too?) and see where the conversation leads.
9) Read a book – Do you like to read, but never have time? Well, now is your time! Dust off one of the books stored on your mobile device that has never been opened. Or, if you prefer the paper version go to the newsstand or bookstore in the airport and pick up something trendy from the NY Times Bestseller list.
10) Call a friend – Now is a great time to catch up with an old friend you haven’t talked to in ages. Not everyone at the gate wants to listen to your conversation though, so it’s always a good idea to find a quiet corner of the terminal or the empty gate to sit down and catch up with an old friend.
What is your favorite thing to do when stranded at the airport? What have we missed? Leave your comments below.