5 fun ways to kill time at the airport

Creative ways to enjoy — not dread — that flight delay.

You've checked your bags, you've got your boarding pass, you've cleared security…now what?

Unless you're late for your flight and making a mad dash to your boarding gate like the McCallister family in Home Alone, chances are you'll have to put in some time before boarding your flight.

It can sometimes take hours to get on a plane, especially if bad weather hits or you're on an extra long layover. Or maybe your trip was going too smoothly when you showed up to the airport extra early, breezed through security, and are left with hours of time on your hands.

You could go mad staving off boredom on a butt-numbing bench at a terminal gate, listening to a rotation of passenger announcements cackle overhead while reluctantly checking Instagram for the umpteenth time.

Or… you could take your pick of any of the ideas below and have your vacation memories start early. Sounds like a better plan, right?

The next time you hit a lull at an airport, and reading a book won't cut it, consider our list of five creative ways to kill time before takeoff.

Lounge like a baller


More deluxe lounges – once reserved for big shots in Business Class – are opening their doors to everyday travellers for pockets of time, and for a fee. The Plaza Premium Lounge, located at Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Toronto international airports, for instance, offers cushy chairs, flat screen TVs, a hot food buffet and bottomless drinks, regardless of one's fare class or airline. Passes start at $40 plus tax for two hours (which is a steal considering how much you'll pay for food and alcohol at regular airport restaurants!)

Make a music video

We're not really kidding. Airports are full of fun filmmaking tools. California's State Street Ballet company took a similar cue last December, shooting a viral video of dancers doing barre exercise and lifts over moving sidewalks while on a five-hour layover at Denver International Airport. The point is, look around, get inspired and use your time to get creative!

Go on an art crawl     

(Source: Ben Nelms for YVR)

Airports can be a cultural hub for eye-popping local and international art.  Vancouver International Airport, notably, is famous for its impressive and display of totem poles and aboriginal carvings boldly placed throughout the terminal. Toronto Pearson International Airport offers several exhibition galleries that are constantly changing at Terminal 1.  South of the border, San Francisco International Airport has its own art, history and cultural museum that's free to all guests. Flying across the pond? Get artistically acquainted with London, England by searching out T5 Gallery in Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport.

Pamper yourself


Why stress over flying when you can indulge in a little TLC? Travel can be taxing on the mind and body, so try rejuvenating yourself at whatever health and wellness services that may be available nearby. Balnea Spa Voyage at Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, for example, pampers passengers with pre-flight massages, facials, and pedicures. Just don't get too cozy. Remember: you still have a plane to catch!  

Travel into town and savour local flavour

Ok this is cheating a bit since we're telling you to leave the airport—but barely! Depending on how much time you have, you might be able to afford a quick trip into your airport's host city. Toronto's Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is mere minutes away from downtown shopping, markets and landmarks. Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport and Ottawa-Macdonald-Cartier International Airport are also quite close to the city centre. When flying international, you may land in Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, a common layover point between Canada, the U.S. and European cities. While Schiphol is packed with time-killing amenities, it's only about 16 km from Amsterdam city centre, so go explore. But remember this rule of thumb: if your layover is less than five hours, and you have an international destination, it's wiser to stay put.