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How to Survive an Airport Layover

Find the fun in airports and you might actually start looking forward to flight delays.


  • Step 1: Shop around Shop around. Check out an airport map to see what stores are accessible without having to exit security. Plan ahead and get some holiday or birthday shopping done now. Or browse the bookstore for a paperback page-turner that will make time fly.
  • TIP: If you’re flying internationally, check out the duty-free shops. You could save some big bucks on the taxes.
  • Step 2: Check out lounges Investigate airline lounges. You used to have to pay big dues to belong to these clubs, but many now allow you to pay per visit. The peace and quiet—and amenities like comfy lounge chairs and cameras that monitor the length of security lines—are worth it.
  • Step 3: Settle in Find a comfortable area and settle in with some music and a good book or magazine—or watch a movie or play a game on your laptop. Prop yourself up with a pillow, if you have one.
  • Step 4: Pamper yourself Pamper yourself! Many airports, like Miami International, offer a barbershop or beauty salon, so treat yourself to a mani-pedi or a blowout. Or get a mini-massage from the kiosks that have popped up in most airports.
  • Step 5: Catch up Catch up on your correspondence by sending emails to all those friends and loved ones you’ve been meaning to write to. Or catch up on a little office work. Most airports now offer internet cafes, and some offer free wi-fi service.
  • TIP: Nearly all airports have charging stations where you can plug your laptop or cell phone in—some have even added special iPod docks.
  • Step 6: Rock yourself relaxed Snag one of the rocking chairs that airports like Boston’s Logan International and Dallas-Fort Worth International have installed and spend some time people watching.
  • Step 7: Socialize Head to a bar near your gate, or look for one of the many wine bars that are gaining popularity in airports; you may just come away with a date, a business connection, or a new friend. At least you’ll meet others with whom to pass the time.
  • TIP: Ten percent of travelers responding to a survey said they have either dated someone they met at an airport or know someone who has.
  • Step 8: Visit the doc Go to the doctor. Surprised? Many major airports—like JFK, O’Hare, and LAX—have public health facilities on the premises. Why not use your spare time to finally get that flu shot or eye exam you keep putting off?
  • Step 9: Sightsee If you’re in for a long layover, consider doing a bit of sightseeing in the nearest town or city. Many airports have tour kiosks for just this purpose.
  • FACT: Philadelphia International Airport has been rated the worst airport in terms of delays—with an average of 32% of flights delayed, and an average delay of 1 hour, according to one survey.

You Will Need

  • A look-on-the-bright-side attitude
  • A laptop computer
  • Things to keep you occupied like books
  • magazines
  • music
  • games
  • & DVDs
  • Cash or a credit card
  • A pillow (optional) (optional) (optional) (optional) (optional)

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