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Layovers: A Timeline of Things You Can Do With Each Hour

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Many people who’ve flown a bit have experienced a layover. While most often layovers are scheduled, and personnel involved do what they can to minimize any inconvenience, the waiting time can vary greatly – and often feels like a lot longer. You’re in an unfamiliar place, but you know that you’re just going to be passing through, and that makes the interval almost interminable.

In truth, waiting during a layover offers many possibilities to new and seasoned travellers alike. You simply have to start with changing your mindset. Like any time spent waiting, there are opportunities you can seize during the spare moments.

Rather than view your layover as one whole stretch of waiting, consider the amount of time you have on your hands – and budget it accordingly. Here’s a sample timeline to consider.

0 hours (immediately)

As soon as you arrive, get to know your routes and the layout of the boarding gates and walkways, and any change of terminals for international flights. Even within the same airline, you could be walking some distance. This gives you a working familiarity with the area, and your time on foot to get to the next gate should you decide to explore a bit.

1-2 hours


Take the time to wash up at the lounge or toilet. Your trips to the previous airport and the just-concluded flight have probably worn you out a bit. Feeling fresh will give you more energy for any other activities.

Reconnect and recharge

We wouldn’t be living in the civilized world without wifi, so go ahead and break out of aeroplane mode on your devices. Make use of any available charging stations, and catch up on anything you might have missed in the last few hours.

Research and walk

You can probably afford at least half an hour to walk around and get more acquainted with the airport – though, for some airports, this would hardly be enough. Use that wifi and check out reviews and suggestions on how to explore these places – they may offer some unique amenities and facilities. Singapore’s Changi Airport, for instance, is famous as a destination unto itself where you could probably explore the whole day.


Major airports like Changi Airport often have a number of duty-free shopping options. Aside from the chance of scoring a great deal, this offers yet another form of therapy to help you recover from flight stress.

Grab a bite and drink

After your flight, chances are refreshments are due too. Airport food tends to be fairly basic, but convenient – and definitely offers more variety than the stuff served onboard. In some places, with a little exploration, you’ll be able to unearth pretty good dining options for a meal and drinks.

3-4 hours

Portrait of a handsome young man sitting on suitcase and calling by cellphone at airport

From here on, you can simply do more of the above, until your free time is consumed. Personal entertainment can really come into play here, as you have enough time to read several chapters, catch up on a few episodes, or watch a movie.

You could also take advantage of special facilities the airport may offer, such as a gym or yoga studio, or check into airport hotel rooms for a few hours of quality sleep.

5-6+ hours

If you’re facing a really long layover, turn it into an opportunity to experience a new city. You’ll have to research the speed and reliability of transportation and make sure you get back with about 2 hours to spare before your next flight. But if you’re up for it, this can change a bore into a chance to explore.

Simply change your mindset about layovers, and find yourself with hours more productive time.

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