Beat Boredom at the Airport

Whether you’re away on business or travelling with the family in tow, here are 10 ways to banish boredom at the airport

There’s no escaping it: waiting and air travel go hand-in-hand. However, If you’ve got a few hours to kill, you’d be surprised at the things you can do at the airport these days.

Get down to business. Wait time doesn’t have to mean lost time. Check out your airport’s executive lounge or business centre for some quiet workspace. With comfortable furnishings, a quiet atmosphere and internet access, they can be the perfect place to put in a few hours. Some airports in the U.S. even offer amenities like private cubicles. There are often fees required for access or services, but you know what they say about spending money to make money…

Check out the arts scene (and special exhibits too). Travel provides many opportunities to learn — starting right at the airport. Not only can you find a variety of art works gracing public spaces, you can also find special exhibitions, displays and facilities that educate and entertain. For example, you can currently find two of the Royal Ontario Museum’s dinosaurs on display at Lester B. Pearson International Airport, and Vancouver International Airport’s public observation deck features displays and interactive kiosks.

Perhaps the airport isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you think of live entertainment, but Edmonton International Airport is out to change all of that. It has partnered with a Tourism Edmonton initiative to provide live performances, art and learning opportunities through its Live All Year program.

Surf the web. Many airports now offer internet access — whether it’s free wireless access, pay-as-you-go or service through your usual internet provider. Not only can you check your email, you can also take advantage of online services like instant messaging, social networking and even place phone calls using services like Skype. If you’re ambitious, use the time to search out information about your destination. If you’re looking for some entertainment, check out TV network websites for full-length episodes of your favourite shows, and listen to your favourite radio stations online.

Work up a sweat. It’s hard to find time to workout when you travel, but now you can find a gym at the airport. Instead of sitting around, get your heart pumping with some time on the treadmill or pump some iron too. You can even take a dip at some clubs — like the Vancouver International Airport’s Health Club & Spa — which have pools for some cardio conditioning and whirlpools for some relaxation. has a searchable directory of health clubs in Canadian and U.S. airports.

Get a check-up. Chipped a tooth? Need to see a doctor? You can often find health care clinics and dental offices located in airports. Book a routine check-up, get a last-minute vaccine or find help for any of those little health issues that come up while you’re on the road. Just be sure to call ahead — many clinics accept walk-ins, but you may need to make an appointment if you want to avoid the wait.

Shop around. Shopping at airports now goes beyond convenience stores and souvenirs. Watch for unique arts and crafts, the latest technology, sports shops and upscale boutiques. If you forgot something, there are many travel gadget and luggage stores too. Services like shoe shining and luggage repair are close at hand if you need a quick fix.

Wine and dine. Skip the fast food and go for sophistication. Airports are now broadening their culinary selections to offer more upscale options (even fine dining). Head to a pub or bar for fine wine and beer from local breweries, and find gourmet cuisine to tempt your taste buds. In addition, more family-friendly chains are making their way to the terminal too.

Play. Looking for something to do with the kids? Many airports like Halifax Stanfield International Airport offer play areas to keep youngsters happy (and to wear off some of that boundless energy). Many airports such as Calgary International Airport offer arcades or video games. There’s even a space-themed entertainment facility.

Are the little ones all tuckered out? Some airports even offer nursery facilities for nap time too.

Pray. No, it’s not a comment on the safety of air travel these days. Many airports like Calgary International Airport and Lester B. Pearson International Airport offer multi-faith chapels where people can pray, reflect, meditate and even seek counselling with a spiritual advisor. A visit to the chapel can help you feel more “grounded” during the chaos of air travel.

Pamper yourself. Perhaps the best way to relax is a trip to the spa. Just because they’re in airports doesn’t mean they don’t offer their usual services — you’ll still find everything from manicures to massages and facials to full body treatments. Of course, most places offer services for the gentlemen too. Many spas offer discounts, so check with your travel provider or loyalty program to see if you qualify.

And if you need a quick pick-me-up, get a quick trim, or get your hair highlighted and set. Have your unwanted hair removed before heading off to a sunny destination. If there’s a special occasion in the very near future, you can even have your hair styled and make-up done too.

Another option: Look for lounge chairs that offer a massage. Some manufacturers have partnered with airports to place their wares throughout the airport. Take a few minutes to see and have the knots worked out of your muscles.

Regardless of where you’re travelling, it’s worth checking out what’s available and where it’s located. You never know when an unforeseen delay might pop up — especially during stormy and snowy times of year.


– You can find all of these services here in Canada, but not necessarily at every airport. To find out what services, amusements, exhibitions, shops and eateries are available where you plan to travel, checkout the airport’s or airport authority’s website. Look for sections catering to travellers or “things to do”.

– The larger and more frequently-traveled the airport, the more services and amenities you will find. Airports around the world are looking for ways to keep fliers happy (and bring in more revenue). For instance, London’s Heathrow Airport has more variety and more upscale options than smaller, less travelled airports.

– Airports aren’t the only places to find these amenities. Major train stations like Washington D.C.’s Union Station are destinations in their own right.

Sources:, airport authority websites.

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