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5 Great Ways to Kill Time at the Airport

Mar 2018

Boredom. It comes for us all. In a society where we often complain about not having enough free time, we find ourselves ‘bored’ that there’s nothing fun to do.

Now imagine… You’ve just checked your bags in and have your boarding pass at the ready. You seamlessly slide through security, avoiding the awkward pat down & stares that follow. You’ve made it. Departures! Just… 2 more hours until your flight.

What on earth am I going to do for two hours?

Well… plenty actually.

Now, you might not be able to ice skate or catch a movie (like you can at Korea’s Incheon International Airport), there are still some fun ways to kill time whilst waiting for your flight.


  1. People Watching

People watching can always be a great way to pass the time – and what better place than a bustling airport departure lounge?

people watching at the airport

You can simply skim through the crowd, trying to find an interesting person or scene that catches the eye. Alternatively, you can take people watching to the next level – creating theories and stories of people’s lives. What are they doing? How do they talk? Where are they going?

You can even make it competitive and give bonus points for spotting matching couples or a whole family wearing Crocs.

Just a word of advice – if you’re playing on your own it’s probably best not to stare as things could get a little creepy.  

  1. Shopping

This doesn’t mean taking an hour to order your Tesco shop to be delivered next Thursday, mum. Explore the wonders of duty-free. There’s an abundance of fun to be had in duty-free across airports in the UK.

If you’re a bit of a shopaholic, Business Class has compiled the world’s best 10 airports for luxury shopping. Some of the best airports for shopping include Changi Airport in Singapore, JFK Airport, and our very own London Heathrow.

Harry Potter Shop Heathrow

Voted ‘best airport for shopping’ for the seventh year in a row, Heathrow Airport boasts some of the most luxurious brands including Louis Vuitton & Rolex. Home to the 11,000-square-foot Harrods, you could easily lose yourself for 2 hours when shopping at Heathrow airport.

With the opening of The Harry Potter Shop back in 2016, the 600sq. ft. store based in Heathrow’s Terminal 5 opened for business the same week as ‘Fantastic Beasts & Where to find them’. An official release from the Heathrow website:

THE HARRY POTTER™ SHOP sells over 200 items, many of them exclusively at Heathrow, from across J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World. The shop sells newly released products from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, as well as collectables, gifts, novelties and souvenirs from Platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross Station and the West End hit play ‘Harry Potter and The Cursed Child Parts One and Two’.

Sounds like the perfect place for Harry Potter fanatics & could be a great way to keep the little ones busy for an hour or more!

If you’re saving your budget for the holiday ahead, you can always window shop and enjoy flicking through books, sampling fragrances, or trying on sunglasses to see which pair makes you look silliest.

  1. Play Games

When it comes to entertainment, not all airports are as equipped as Changi Airport in Singapore. At Changi Airport, you’ll find an arts & crafts workshop, three mini-theatres with free movies, an arcade section with free video games and even pods where you can enjoy the latest music. If that’s not enough to curb your boredom, there’s even a four-storey-high slide that shoppers can use in Terminal 3!

Changi Airport SlideIf you like to keep things simple, you can have hours of fun with a pack of cards or great puzzle book. From brain teasers to Sudoku, you could easily lose yourself in good crossword puzzle book.

With most of us using the latest smartphones, you’ll have access to thousands of fun and interesting apps on your device’s marketplace. Aside from some of the classics such as Candy Crush or Temple Run, you can immerse yourself in culture with the Duolingo language app. You can read, listen and speak multiple languages with Duolingo and it’s completely free – perfect for sprucing up your language skills ahead of your holiday abroad.

If you’re travelling with a group of friends, you can always look to find your own fun like the swim team from the University of Louisville did:

  1. Explore!

You may have been to Heathrow or Gatwick 100 times but it never hurts to take a look around. Go for a wander and find something new, you never know what you might find. You may even come across your favourite coffee place that you never knew was there, or a secluded, quiet seating area away from the crowds.

Changi Airport even offers free tours to the city. The ‘Heritage Tour’ lasts for 2 ½ hours and “brings you through the architectural brilliance of Singapore’s past and present as we visit colonial and cultural districts – Chinatown, Little India, Kampong Glam – with a short stopover at the Merlion Park where you get a photo opportunity with the symbol of Singapore. The second stopover is at Kampong Glam, one of Singapore’s colourful ethnic precincts.”

Heritage Tour

If your flight has been delayed, cancelled or you’ve got an extra-long layover, why not skip the whole airport experience altogether? If you’ve got time to kill, there are some great cities and sites to explore that aren’t too far from their respective airports.

OxfordFor layovers, long delays & cancellations at Heathrow, Gatwick or other London airports, it might be worth venturing into the city by booking a private chauffeur service. Your own private driver will be able to guide you around the city and drop you off at some of London’s top sights including Big Ben & Buckingham Palace.

Alternatively, you can head out of the city for a more rural adventure. With some of the most beautiful sites & towns just a short drive from the city, you can discover the wonders of Windsor Castle, Blenheim Palace and Oxford.  

  1. Eat

Let’s be honest, aeroplane food has never been great. Airports have adapted over the years to bring passengers a much-improved choice when it comes to restaurants and cafes. They’ve put such an emphasis on food in recent times that there’s even The Airport Food & Beverage Conference & Awards held every year in Helsinki!  

Airport foodWith most airports providing a diverse range of options when it comes to food & drink, nothing beats the first class lounge. Once a rather luxurious commodity, the first class lounge is the gateway to bottomless drinks and delicious buffets – not to mention the comfy seats.

For the foodies out there, Forbes recently posted an article on the Top 10 airports for food in 2018. The article included some exciting Asian cuisines, fine dining, and even a range of options for those on a budget.

The next time you’re stuck at the airport bored out of your mind, consider exploring, find somewhere nice to eat, or simply sit and watch the crowds pass by. We hope this guide can help pass the time ahead of your next flight.

Share your creative time-killing tips with us @spiretravelltd

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