Revenge travel is indeed in full swing—and not just for those in their 20s. Whether in the Philippines or in other markets around the world, travel industry leaders are seeing a wider population prioritizing travel and experiences over buying things or investing in fixed income assets.
But no matter the demographic, the one thing that most travelers are not comfortable with is a layover—that long wait for a connecting flight at the airport. Staying for long hours in an airport can lead to boredom, anxiety and frustration.
While there are airports where one would not mind waiting, such as Changi in Singapore with the world’s largest indoor waterfall, comfy lounges at Chep Lap Kok in Hong Kong, or shopping galore and sleeping cubes in Dubai; many of the over 15,000 public airports around the world are not designed for comfort—though airport operators have realized the importance of a positive passenger experience and have started to transform air terminals.
Direct vs connecting
Flying non-stop, direct will always be the better choice. But these days, with elevated airfares and, in some cases, limited options for flights, travelers should not easily dismiss layover flights. Though a layover might mean disembarking, retrieving baggage, checking in for the next flight then boarding another aircraft, or a really long, uncomfortable wait in an airport packed with people, there are some upsides.
For one, layovers reduce the risk of missing a connecting flight—removing that tense, anxious mad dash from one boarding gate to another by allowing for more-than-ample time in between flights. And these days, with flight delays and disruptions, that extra buffer may be a blessing.
Second, layover flights are usually cheaper than direct and non-stop flights. Nomads, savvy but thrifty globe-trotters and adventure-seekers don’t mind the long wait in exchange for saving on airfare.
Third, layovers, especially if these are longer than six hours, might be a chance to take in some sights or take a quick food trip. Of course, exiting the airport during a layover will depend on the country’s visa requirements, proximity to the city and attractions and budget, among others.
What to do if stuck at the airport
If leaving the airport is not a viable option, waiting for a flight need not be a totally unpleasant situation. It’s a matter of finding things to do to fill in the time waiting for the flight. Here are some possibilities:
Catch-up on reading
These days, we barely have time to read a book or even a well-researched article. Whether it’s an e-book, a kindle, or even a paperback or an actual printed magazine, use the time to read something that strikes your fancy or broadens knowledge and insights.
Catch-up on a series
A layover is a perfect time to binge-watch a series or movies. Streaming services have ramped-up selections to include even older TV series, and even movies from the 1980s and 1990s. Time will fly once you’re hooked to your screen.
Get those steps in
The airport is a great place to do 10,000 steps! Physical activity is a great way to boost your energy and dopamine levels—reducing anxiety while waiting.
Explore the airport
You never know what you will find in an airport. Many of the biggest brands in the world have a travel retail business and they often offer great deals for travelers. Some even offer free samples! Check out the liquor shops and get a sniff and sip of the best single malts in the world, or perhaps some chilled champagne.
Other than a light nap during the flight, the wait in the airport is probably the last bit of rest you will get before a hectic travel itinerary begins. Find a sleep pod or chaise—many airports have these, and get some sleep. Don’t forget to set an alarm and give some time to freshen up before boarding your flight.
Write ideas down
Being along and watching people can give you ideas and insights. But these may flit and flee. Write down these bits and pieces in your mind in a notebook or even your mobile device. You can revisit these later on. You never know when these might come in handy.
Catch-up with family and friends
Use the time to say hello to friends and relatives. We’re so busy in our daily lives that it’s often difficult to make time to talk to family and friends. Once you’re chatting away or in a conversation, time will pass by really fast.
Whatever it is you decide to do while waiting, make the most of the time. After all, the waiting won’t be so bad—especially if you’re jetting off to an adventure.
Photos by Charo Logarta