So you’re stuck in an airport, huh? Maybe you missed your connection because you just really had to grab the only Bojangles you’ve seen in months (still worth it). Maybe you fell asleep and missed the notice for the gate change. Maybe you just flew Delta. Regardless, you now find yourself sitting in a criminally uncomfortable chair praying for time to pass swiftly. We’ve all been there, especially us traveling consultants, so I wanted to share a list of tips, tricks, and strategies for dealing with that awkward intermediate time at the airport. I’ve left out many of the usuals, such as Netflix, reading, etc. because if those are an option you probably don’t need to read a blog post to figure out what to do.
- Tip #1: Sleep
By far the easiest way to pass the time is to simply sleep it off. This works well if you have a large chunk of time and you have little or nothing to do. Yet, this can be extremely difficult and even sketchy, at a busy airport. My personal solution is to wander aimlessly until you can find a quiet little corner to call your own. It can be an unutilized gate, a recessed hallway, or even a vacant golf cart. The point should be to find somewhere you find comfortable. Following that, hide your valuables, plug in some white noise, and drift off into unconsciousness. Just hope that you’re not awoken by a security officer who claims “This is a restricted area”.
- Tip #2: Listen to Podcasts
If you’re stuck at a busy gate, nothing is better than being able to find solace. Music is nice, but podcasts excel at not only taking your mind off the layover, but it forces you to put your attention elsewhere, making the time pass quickly. Whether it’s a sport podcasts, comedy, or something else it prompts internal dialogue and keeps you from losing sanity in a state of boredom. Some of my favorite genres and podcasts are sports (Around the NFL, Loud Americans Discussing Soccer), comedy (Tuesdays with Stories, J-Train Podcast, Comedy Bang! Bang!), news (BBC Global News), and anything pertinent to my hobbies (Dirtbag Diaries, The Firn Line). No matter what your hobby, or sport of choice is, there is a podcast out there for you.
- Tip #3: Make New Friends
The airport is the true American melting pot. You will find everyone crayon in the crayon box if you look hard enough. Chances are, at your airport, there are thousands of people in a similar position to you, bored and looking to pass the time. Do you know where the most social and outgoing of these individuals congregate? The bar. Now, obviously I am not telling you that you need to drink in order to pass the time (although, you can), but even if you scoot up to the nearest watering hole and just order a glass of water, you almost have to try not to talk to people. Strike up a conversation with the people at the bar, you never know who you are going to talk to. I’ve met businessmen, pilots, circus performers, and even a Buddhist monk at the airport just by making small talk, which then leads into a full blown conversation. A small warning though, you always run the risk of talking to someone that you learn you can’t stand (Looking at you Mike in Syracuse, Cutco is a pyramid scheme and you’re an idiot), but hey that’s life. Best case scenario, you find someone to sneak you into the Admiral’s lounge.
- Tip #4: Competitive People Watching
Are you just an amateur people watcher, and looking to take your game to the next level? I have three words for you: People Watching Bingo. Yes, look it up, it is of course a quite real game that you can play on your own or with a partner. I’ve spent hours of my life just watching people pass by, and if you take the time to notice, you will find that you can gather a lot from simply people watching. Turn it into a game, and you have a reason to excited when you finally notice, and are able to cross off, “child on a leash”. Be careful though, the game can get intense, and people don’t take kindly to being stared at, come to find out.
-Tip #5: The No Internet Special
So you’re in one of those few remaining airports that don’t offer free wi-fi? You’ve scoured the networks trying to find a hotspot or obscure coffee shop with an open network, but your search yields nothing? As long as you have your phone, or laptop computer, you can do something about it. Craft a strongly worded email condemning the airport executives for putting profitability before customer service. If you’re feeling extra zesty, write a letter emphasizing the need of internet as a public utility addressed to the state legislation. Is it the most productive use of your time? Probably not, but it beats re-watching (for the tenth time) the two 30 Rock episodes you have saved on your hard drive. Why would you ever do this? Well, frankly, if you’re still reading this blog post you must be pretty bored. Drink a few cups liters of coffee, and watch the armchair political activism take off.
If all else fails, buy a newspaper. Didn’t seem to bother your parents back in the day, you’ll survive.