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Six Creative Ways to Spend Your Time in an Airport During a Delay

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From scheduled strikes at Heathrow, Gatwick, and other UK airports to the unprecedented protests that shut down Hong Kong's airport, it appears more flights are being delayed — even if the disrupted airports aren't on your itinerary. If you're facing an unavoidable delay at the airport, what can you do besides sitting at the gate for hours playing Fortnite?

1. Look into airport luxury lounges

Luxury lounges aren't just airline-specific any longer, like Air Canada's Maple Leaf lounges. You can purchase lounge access by the hour through several VIP lounge apps. Airport VIP lounges offer showers, sleeping accommodations, and premium food and beverages. They are easy places to rest, recharge, conduct business, and stay occupied comfortably while waiting for a delayed flight.

2. Find a new reading interest

There's a reason airport shops sell so many magazines, newspapers, and books. You don't have to invest in a paper book or magazine: chances are you can find favourites quickly on your mobile phone, tablet, or laptop. Feed your mind some new information or enjoy reading about your favourite sport, hobby, or other interest.

3. Take a walk

Walking through endless concourses is a hassle when you need to switch flights and have a short layover — or when you're running late for your flight. But if you're facing an unexpected delay, those long corridors can be a boon to your fitness and energy levels. Get up, get moving, and walk at least once an hour during flight delays. Your body and mood will thank you.

4. Get to know your neighbors

Often, we can be tempted to isolate ourselves while on trips. There are few sights sadder or more common than an airport gate with travelers sitting separately with slumped shoulders or earbuds, the awkward silence only broken by the shrieks of an unhappy baby. Take the time to start a conversation with your fellow travelers. You're certain to find someone with whom you share a common interest.

5. Catch up on work

Work is always exciting, isn't it? With flight delays, you could find hundreds of extra minutes for answering emails, reading reports, backtracking through Slack conversations, or scheduling tasks for the weeks to come. While working may not be the most exciting way to fill the time while waiting in the airport, at least you'll know things are done and you won't have to worry about them once your flight is in the air.

6. Try new foods and drinks

Airport food is notorious for its high cost and low quality — or is it? A growing number of international airports have invested in bringing fresh, local food into their concourses. Vancouver's Globe@YVR offers fresh, local, sustainably caught seafood. Its quality draws patrons from the city along with travelers. Toronto's Pearson Airport offers sushi, a gastropub, and Italian food from Canada's Top Chef Massimo Capra.

There's no reason to just sit in your seat at an airport gate for hours on end, waiting for a delayed flight. Be proactive and use your time wisely. Look for travel insurance that covers flight delays to provide you with compensation for the lost time and problems the flight delay may have caused your vacation, work, or family plans. Travel insurance can reimburse you for costs of lodging, food, and beverages during the delay. The Canadian Transportation Agency has finalized rules for passenger compensation in the case of flight delays, but airlines are only required to provide compensation for delays that are within their control. Travel insurance will provide a much broader and more flexible option.