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From 3 Hours to 12 Hours: Here’s What to Do on a Long Layover

waiting in an airport
Written by Shannon Durso

This blog post was updated on November 15, 2022.

Whether you booked cheap flight deals with the longest layovers, you’re flying around the globe, or stopping halfway to meet friends, odds are you will one day find yourself wandering around an airport waiting to board your connecting flight. Most travelers may suggest avoiding connections, but if you want to save money on travel booking a flight with layovers can cut the cost. Yes, you will get to your destination slower than taking a non-stop flight, but it’s not always as bad as it may seem. Flying with a low-cost carrier might have at least one stop and will be a super saver! If you’d like to be a cost-savvy traveler, then follow these tips on how to survive a long layover without becoming restless.

FYI: A long layover isn’t one that’s less than 3 hours, so let’s not get dramatic! In fact, we recommend that you book at least an hour or more of a layover to give both you and your luggage time to catch your connecting flight. Keep in mind that checked luggage being transferred from one aircraft to another will take time (especially if you’re flying on different airlines in a major airport hub). If you have less than an hour’s layover, chances are your luggage won’t make it to your connecting flight. Now that we know not to book a 20-minute layover, let’s continue!

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What to do on a layover of…

3 Hours or More

waiting in airport

Don’t fret! 3 hours isn’t too long to wait around for your flight to arrive. But, you are definitely going to want something to do to kill the time. Start with turning on all your electronic devices to see if any need a recharge. You’ll find charging stations around your terminal in almost all airports — just be sure to stay close to your charging devices. Once you’re charged up, sign into your TV subscriptions such as Netflix or Hulu (if your airport has wifi available) to stream your favorite movie or catch up on a TV show to pass the time. Not really into movies? Take out a book and spend some time reading or start putting together an itinerary for your destination (if you haven’t already!).

6 Hours or More

women in the gym

Start with the activities listed above. Once you’re left with nothing else to do for the remaining 3 hours, go freshen up! Some airports have showers available for travelers to wash up before their next flight. Airports such as DFW (Dallas/ Fort Worth Int’l), Charlotte, Indira Gandhi International Airport (Delhi, India), Philadelphia, and Haneda Airport (Tokyo) are just a few that offer this amenity. Most of these are large hubs and not all terminals will offer them. Also, check to see if the airport you’re in has a gym to workout in. Airports such as Baltimore-Washington International Airport, Dubai International Airport, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, and others all have studios with classes or free gyms. If the terminal you’re in has both a shower and a gym, then you’re good to go! Getting in some cardio before sitting on a long flight will make you feel refreshed and energized, so take advantage.

8 Hours or More

sleeping in an airport

Now you’re in for a super long layover. Let’s make it seem like a fast one. Once you go through the activities to cover a 6-hour layover, you’re going to need some rest. How about a nap? Do some research before you leave home to learn about your sleeping options. Your airport may have a hotel attached for you to reserve a room to sleep and even shower! Airports such as the Westin Denver International Airport, The Hilton Chicago O’Hare Airport, and Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport are just a few where you can catch a comfortable snooze. If the airport you’re in does not have this option, we have the cheapest solution to get you to rest — cozy up in the airport itself! Find a quiet spot, set an alarm, and you’re all set to catch major zzz’s.

RELATED: If you can easily sleep in an airport, here’s why you should hop on a red-eye flight for your next trip! 

12 Hours or More

a tourist wandering

Go out and explore! If you’re in a city with much to see, book a hotel outside the airport and spend your time as a tourist would. Why sit in an airport for hours on end when you can venture out! Before you head out of the airport, make sure the city you’re in is safe to tour around. Map out exactly where you will go so that you have enough time to make it back to the airport for your flight. In the case that the city is not a safe one to visit or if it’s just not a realistic move to leave the airport on your own then refer to the previous tips for spending time in an airport for hours on end.


Have you booked cheap flight deals with a layover? Tell us your tips for a super long layover in the comments section below! 

About the author

Shannon Durso

If she’s not searching for the world's coolest destinations she has yet to explore, you can find her writing content at Fareportal or maybe even drooling over a foodies latest post. Shannon’s a Brooklyn native who enjoys good company, new adventures, and a great laugh!

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