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Long Layovers 101: How To Deal With The Layover That Never Ends

This blog post was updated on July 29, 2021.

They say it’s not the destination. It’s the journey. And while the road to anywhere can be filled with valuable travel experiences, the long airport layover feels more like a journey through one of Dante’s circles of Hell. I am sitting in a chair that hits my back in such a way to induce a little extra pain. Frankly, I’m lucky to even have a seat as I work through one of the longest layovers I have ever experienced. I left Denver last night for New York. Arriving at 6AM Eastern Time, I have roughly nine hours before I can even check in for my next flight. I’m not alone in my discomfort. Travelers attempting to deal with the long layover surround me.

Long layovers can be draining, exhausting and maddening in their own right. And while I don’t have the seasoned experience of a flight attendant, I have had half a day to figure out what I did right and wrong with this long layover. If you have a long layover on your itinerary, here are a few tips to survive those countless hours of bad food, worse company and the most uncomfortable chairs in the world.

Consider A Hotel For Day Rates:
Most of us don’t even consider getting a hotel for day layovers. However, many hotels do offer day rates for travelers. Most airports have a phone you can use to call out to nearby hotels. Be sure to ask if the hotel has a day rate or a special offer for several hours. Even if you strike out with a deal, you can always seek out the attached airport hotel just to kill time. The lobbies tend to have far better seating and bars than those within the airport.

Buy Lounge Passes: These days you don’t have to be a bigwig with the airlines to reap the rewards of the airport lounge. Many airlines offer day passes for their lounges at a flat cost. Airport and airline lounges offer WiFi, snacks, drinks and more comfortable seating. Depending on the extent of the lounge, you might even find showers to suds up before your next flight.

Utilize Airport Apps: Currently, I am using Flight Guru to see what is near me food-wise in the terminal. Long layovers can be even longer when you are lugging around your suitcase for hours on end searching for food and drink. Find an app that is right for you, one that tells you what restaurants and shops are near you and where they are located in the terminal or gate area. Airport apps are a nice solution for travelers not looking to spend the price of a lounge. If you know where to go, where to eat that isn’t too terrible and where you can shop, you can create your own lounge experience more easily.

Break up walking and sitting: It seems like it was only just 7AM a few minutes ago and now I find myself approaching 10AM. Three hours of a layover can go by much quicker if you break up the time. Travelers shouldn’t sit still the entire time or wander aimlessly for 10 hours. Break up your time spent in one area and move to another for awhile. Travelers should move around as much as they can on a long layover before being forced to sit for hours on end on the airplane.

Tackle Emails:
Long layovers present an ideal time to tackle emails you have put off returning. Answering emails can be a time consuming process, one that is welcome to the traveler on a long layover to keep busy. Once your inbox is cleared, you just might find all that productivity helped you pass a few hours in the airport.

How do you deal with long layovers?


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