How to survive a long airport layover - LifeSavvy
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How to survive a long layover at the airport -

If you are flying, it stands to reason that at some point you will have to wait a long time at an airport. The six-hour delays and ten-hour stopovers are far from unheard of. Here's how to survive stopover downtime.

Much of the wait time at the airport depends on whether it is planned or not. If you have a long layover planned, at least that's something you have chosen. On the other hand, if your airline is just causing you a long delay, it's annoying and totally ruins your day. The strategy for dealing with it, however, is the same: be prepared.

Long waits are only part of air travel. If you are following a route with a connecting flight, the schedule may collapse. Hell, if you're on a route with a direct flight, things can always go wrong with the weather delaying your flight or forcing you to land halfway to your destination. You should always have a plan for what to do if you get stuck.

And, of course, if you know you have a long layover, you should have a plan, too. So, let's plan this now before it happens and you'll be ready to sail in comfort during your layover.

The best option: leave the airport

If you're passing through a large city and your layover is long enough, go through security, exit the airport, and go sightseeing.

How long you will need for it depends. San Francisco and New York are less than 90 minutes by public transit from their major airports, so if you have an eight-hour layover, it's probably worth it. On the other hand, there isn't much to do around LAX and Los Angeles is so sprawling that it would probably take you twelve hours to kill to leave the airport to be worth it.

Also, this option is only really good when you have a planned stopover. Things can change quickly with delayed flights so I really don't recommend jumping into town then. If the projected long delay turns miraculous “Good news, everyone! A rescue plane has arrived and we are leaving within the hour! moment and you are not at the airport, you will be stuck in town much longer than expected.

By the way, the exit airport option also benefits from tools that help you get back quickly. If you haven't yet signed up for TSA PreCheck or a similar service, then now is the time. You will be more comfortable leaving if you know you can go through security more quickly when you return.

If you can get into a living room, do

A well appointed airport lounge with comfortable seating and a fireplace.

Assuming you can't leave the airport, the best thing you can do is settle into a lounge. There are normally comfortable seats, showers, and free food and drink. It is the best place to be when you have to wait around an airport.

If you are traveling in business class, things are settled. You almost certainly have access to the lounge. If you're not, things are a bit trickier, but all is not lost:

  • Check if your credit card provides access to airport lounges. Leading airline cards like the American Express Delta Skymiles Reserve Card naturally give you access to Delta Skyclubs.
  • Use LoungeBuddy and PriorityPass to see if there are any lounges you can pay at.
  • Check if your credit card offers vouchers or credits for the aforementioned services. The classic American Express Green Card doesn't give you direct access to specific airline lounges, but as of today you get up to $ 100 in credits per year for access to LoungBuddy.

More and more airports are starting to add non-airline specific lounges, so don't assume there aren't any. Check the airport website with your phone or ask an airport employee where the lounges are located.

Find a comfortable place to set up camp

If you can't get into a living room, the next best option is to find a comfortable place to hide. The Sleeping In Airports site offers guides on the best places in most major airports to settle in for a few hours. Whether you're taking a nap or just lounging, it's up to you.

My personal preference is to wander around the airport to see what is there (after all, I have time to spare) and then prepare a good table in a cafe or bar. I like something with a comfortable seat, an outlet, and easy access to alcohol. A corner booth in a bar is ideal.

Another option to note is the sleep capsules which are starting to appear at some airports, mainly in Asia. These capsules are paid by the hour, but then you have a small private space to lie down and relax. They aren't normally cheap, but they might be worth it if your delay drags you into the night or if you want to say you did it so you can tell the story.

If you are in the United States you are unlikely to find them outside of the larger airports, but there are some at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Dallas / Fort Worth International Airport , at John F. Kennedy International Airport and similar in size. airports. Some of the “pods” are actually much more spacious, like the Minute Suites at the Atlanta International Airport. Regardless of the business, check their website before paying. Many of them have a discount code for first time users that will save you a lot of the change.

Be aware that there are usually not many pods, even at these airports. If your packed flight has just been delayed for several hours and you really want to take a pod nap, you'll want to locate and pay for your pod quickly.

Bring things to do

Once you've settled in, it's time to keep the boredom at bay. When traveling, you should always have a supply of things to do that will keep you occupied, regardless of electricity or internet access. It's hard to beat a good book or a good magazine as a backup for everything that's wrong. You can also buy them at the airport if you really need them.

Most of the time, however, you should at least have access to an outlet so you can charge your gadgets. A tablet loaded with movies and games is ideal for all ages.

If you're traveling with other people, don't overlook the usefulness of old-fashioned entertainment options. You can play all kinds of games with a deck of cards and there are some really cool travel size board games like this pocket version of the popular Hive game. Time will pass much faster if everyone is involved in a game and not just looking at the watch.

Personally, however, I prefer to use the time I have at the airport, rather than just looking for ways to distract myself. I like to pick a project that I haven't had time to do yet, whether it's photos to retouch or an essay I want to write, and then use my layovers to do it - or as many as possible. Because time would otherwise be wasted, I don't have to justify not doing actual work and can focus on one or two personal projects.

Think carefully about the food

A man pays for his meal in an airport cafe.

One of the biggest challenges of long layovers is staying well fed without breaking the bank. It's way too easy to snack on expensive fast food that only makes you feel bad. Many people think it's the plane trip itself that unsettles them and makes them feel cranky. While this may well play a role, keeping yourself on the Cinnabon menu is probably the biggest culprit.

If you're going to get stuck there for a while (followed by a flight of several hours), you need to make sure you're eating decent meals. If you are in a living room, free food is normally usable there and, finally, free. Fill up on everything they have, and you should be good to go.

If you are not in a living room or want something more substantial, I suggest you browse the whole place and find a place that looks like a decent meal. Don't just hit the first pizza place you see. You'd better grab a sandwich made in a cafe or find a restaurant sitting somewhere in the airport that serves a wider range of fresh foods.

Or, if you have the foresight, pack your own food.

Stay up to date on your flight

You are not at the airport to have fun, but to catch a flight. Remember this, especially if you are waiting on a delayed flight rather than a scheduled stopover. Things can change quickly and if you miss your plane you're going to be stuck for even longer. Or, on the upside, you might get a voucher to use for food if you're stuck long enough.

Wherever you set up camp, make sure you have a way to keep up to date with what's going on with your flight. Even a change of door can be a problem if you cut things too thin.

The easiest way to do this is to set it up somewhere where you can see the airport information signs. This way you can just take a peek a few times per hour and stay on top of things.

The other good option is to monitor things online. Most airports have a website that displays live departure information. You can also use a service like TripIt which will automatically update you when new information is posted about your flight. You will receive push notifications directly to your phone whenever the status of your flight changes. If you travel a lot, it's super convenient.

Long waits at the airport, even if unexpected, don't have to be painful if you prepare in advance. Whenever I take a plane I always make sure to be prepared for any potential delays or layovers because if you travel enough they are inevitable, but with a little planning it doesn't have to be a stay. in the hell of the airport.

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