A long airport layover doesn’t have to be a total drag. Don’t think of it as a hindrance on your journey toward your holiday destination – rather think of it as an opportunity to do and see some things that you might not ordinarily get to experience, were you to breeze through the airport briefly between flights.
Here are some tips on how to make the most of your layover and survive some of the world’s busiest airports, while actually enjoying yourself:
If you have a long-ish layover:
- Find out what it has in terms of restaurants and other activities. Some airports (usually those in large cities) have amenities like cinemas, museums, gyms and kids play areas. Scope out the airport’s website to get the lay of the land.
- If there’s a map of the airport, print it and keep it with you. Highlight where you want to go and where you need to be in order to catch your next flight.
Find out whether there’s a baggage check-in facility – that will save you from having to haul your bags around with you on your layover.
- You can also ask at the airport information desk, just in case there’s something new (like restaurant specials and the like) or not yet visible on the website.
- You’ll need to find out if you can leave the airport without a visa (or if a transit visa is available) and if your layover is long enough, you might be able to squeeze in some touristy stuff.
- Some airports have layover tours – stuff that you can fit into a few hours, within close proximity to the airport.
- Find out how long it will take to travel to and from specific attractions and investigate your transport options – many airports are connected by direct trains or buses which makes it easier to avoid expensive cab fares and getting stuck in traffic on the way back to the airport.
- Before you leave the airport, make sure you know exactly what time your next flight leaves and from which gate. Ask an airline agent or check the departure board as soon as you arrive. In order to avoid missing your flight, make sure you’ve physically located the flight departure gate. This will save you time and you’ll know exactly where to go and how long it will take you.
- Check on the status of your flight regularly (most airlines have apps for this!) and return to your gate at least 45mins before your flight is due to leave. If there are any gate or time changes, you won’t miss your flight because you’ll be well-informed.
If you have a short(ish) layover or can’t leave the airport:
- Consider paying to check in to one of the airport lounges. While there’s an entrance fee, there are usually free snacks, Wi-Fi, beverages, showers and business facilities. Much better than slumming it on an airport bench!
- Check out the airport hotel. You could spend your layover time at the spa, coffee lounge, bar or pool.
- Come prepared – think movies, series, music, games and books. Pre-load your smart devices with loads of stuff to keep you entertained (make sure you pack your chargers within access and look out for plug-points that cleaning staff use).
- If you’re going to an airport in a city where you have friends or family, you can ask them to meet you there. Spending a few hours over coffee or a meal with someone you rarely get to see can be a great way to pass the time.
- If all else fails (or the battery on your smart device dies) you can always turn to people-watching. It’s free and at any airport, no matter where it is in the world, you’re not likely to run out of interesting subject matter.