10 Best Ways to Kill Time at the Airport

by Shelli

I don’t pay much attention to surveys and lists but this one in particular piqued my curiosity. Maybe I’m in a list reading mood! Maybe I’m looking for better ways to spend time at the airport. See what you think of my take on these travel-related lists. Maybe you’ll agree, but then again, maybe you won’t.

Survey says…

The Best Ways to Pass Time at the Airport

  1. Read a Book
  2. Play Games on Your Phone/Device
  3. Listen to Music
  4. Eat
  5. Watch the Planes
  6. Drink
  7. Work on a Crossword or Sudoku
  8. Binge Watch TV
  9. Catch Up on the News
  10. Nap

Hmm, my favorite way to pass time didn’t make the list. I’ll always opt to take a walk. Of course, if there’s a lounge available to me because of the credit cards I hold, I’ll walk to the lounge! I’ve never taken a nap at an airport, and I’m surprised but happy that reading a book topped the list.

The list of surveys also included a few other travel-related items. Who doesn’t love good holiday-themed movies?

The Best Movies About Thanksgiving

  1. Planes, Trains and Automobiles
  2. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
  3. Beethoven
  4. Grumpy Old Men
  5. Addams Family Values
  6. The Blind Side
  7. Home for the Holidays
  8. Son in Law
  9. Pocahontas
  10. Dutch

Planes, Trains and Automobiles certainly is one of the most hilarious travel-related movies ever! Couldn’t agree more with the number one spot. I’ll admit to having some trips that paralleled that movie!

Finally, the list that everyone loves to debate…

Which is the Best U.S. Airport?

Detroit Metropolitan Airport McNamara Terminal, where Delta operates. Image by Edward Russell, Wikimedia Commons.

  1. Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport
  2. Portland International Airport
  3. Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport
  4. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
  5. Denver International Airport
  6. Tampa International Airport
  7. Indianapolis International Airport
  8. John Wayne Airport
  9. San Francisco International Airport
  10. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

I was curious about MSP in the number one spot. I haven’t been through MSP in years, so I reached out to a good buddy who’s based in Minneapolis to get his thoughts. The only thing he uses the airport for is flying. No eating, no lounge time. He arrives as close to flight time as possible and leaves the airport as soon as he lands.

For him, parking is good. However, while clearing security is great in the afternoon, it’s been terrible in the morning. In his experience, it takes him less than five minutes in the afternoon and evening. Can take an hour in the morning, though.

Frankly, he was surprised by the ranking of MSP. The airport seems pretty average to him, though for him, it’s nicer than St. Louis and not as nice as Austin.

My Take On the Best Airports

I do use four of the top ten choices multiple times a year (PDX, PHX, SFO, SEA) and they all have pluses and minuses…except PHX. That place is a mess, except for in the heat of summer, when it looks like no one is crazy enough to be at PHX but me.

I was surprised that one of the airports that I like best, Dallas-Fort Worth, was so far down the list. I’ve never had a bad experience at DFW and though I like the older version of the Centurion Lounge way better than the new one, I’m still a fan.

Fort Lauderdale, FLL, one of my top LIKE airports didn’t make the list at all. I guess the Floridians were busy the day the survey was sent out!

Final Thoughts

Spending time at the airport can often require creativity. Here are some holiday and travel-related survey lists I’d like to see next time: best antacids to use after holiday meals, which leftovers your dogs like best, and your favorite travel destination when you don’t stay home for the holidays.

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derek March 27, 2021 - 9:04 pm

Looking at the architecture is another way to pass time. Some are reasonably good at this, such as IAD (Washington, DC), SFO (including the international terminal and the museum near concourse A international terminal), ORD (very much in the international style of the 1960’s and 70’s), even LAX (see what part of the terminal is old from the 1960’s and what’s new)

Shelli March 27, 2021 - 9:07 pm

Great idea, Derek!! I often walk around looking at those photo exhibits in airports. And of course the planes landing and awaiting take-off are fun to watch, as well. Thanks so much for your comment.

AaronW April 29, 2021 - 5:14 pm

At the airport – “People Watching” should have been on there. Always fun in an international terminal with lots of passenger turnover.

Shelli April 29, 2021 - 8:13 pm

Absolutely agree, Aaron. Thanks for the reminder!


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