This blog post was updated on May 28, 2020.

If you travel long enough, odds are you’ll have to sit through an airport delay. Generally speaking, this is not something that delights people; airport delays can cause havoc with your travel plans, aggravate your fellow travelers, and leave you wondering why you ever bothered to book the trip at all. Luckily, an airport delay doesn’t have to ruin your trip — or even your day. We’ve got everything you need to know about how to deal with, and even make the most out of, that pesky airport delay.

Check Your Options

 image of active people playing foosball

If you’re sick of cooling your heels at the gate, it’s time to get up and start exploring the airport. Sure, there are the usual shops and restaurants, but plenty of airports have so much more to offer bored travelers. Some provide games and activities like foosball or video games (perfect for stuck passengers of any age), while others offer free movie screenings to pass the time. So if you’ve got time to kill, see what your airport has in store — you may be surprised by what you find!

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Track Your Flights

Just because your flight has been stuck in limbo doesn’t mean you’re doomed to spend hours at the airport. Apps like NextFlight let you see what flights are available; this can be vital if your current airline is trying to renegotiate your flight or if your original airline cancels completely. The app can keep you from being stranded at the airport, and offers up direct and connecting flights to keep you moving no matter what.

Find a Spot to Plug In

Airport Young female passenger on smart phone and laptop sitting in terminal hall while waiting for her flight

All those devices you brought along are going to be useless if they’re not charged. If you know you’ll be settling in for the long haul, your first move should be to scope out a place to plug in your technology. Working plugs are a hot commodity — particularly if a full flight has been delayed. The minute you know you’re not going anywhere for a while, mark out your territory fast. Keep your devices charged, and you’ll be able to enjoy playing games and binge-watching until it’s time to take off.

Break a Sweat

Feeling antsy from sitting so much? Airports are a great way to burn off excess energy. All that space lends itself to any workout that strikes your fancy. Use the seats in the lounge for more challenging exercises or incorporate the moving walkway to get more of a burn (you’d be surprised at what workout routines you can do in an airport). If you don’t feel particularly motivated but still want to stretch your legs, speed walk around the airport. You’ll get the blood flowing and possibly scope out some cool places to shop when you’re done strolling.

Make Some Cash

paying money

Want to bring in some extra bucks while you’re waiting for your flight? If you don’t mind a little manual labor, the airport is great way to make some spending money for your trip. Some airports pay a small fee if you return luggage carts; it’s a fun, mindless way to kill some time and make money while you’re at it. Kids in particular can enjoy this activity (particularly if they get to keep their earnings).

Scope Some Samples

Feeling hungry, but don’t want to blow your money on overpriced airport goods? That’s when it’s time to take a tour and see what treats your airport has in store. Lots of places offer free samples if you’re not afraid to ask. It’s a great opportunity to try some new foods, and it’s way less expensive than a single expensive (and unsatisfying) airport sandwich. Best of all, if you find something you love, you can stock up for your upcoming flight!

Got any other tips on how to pass the time during an airport delay? Share them with us in the comments.

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