Airport delays are all too common and can quickly bring on temper tantrums and arguments when traveling with children. Whether your flight is delayed by one hour or several, you need to be ready with things to do. Here, 10 ways to amuse your kids when you’re stranded at the airport.
1. Go on a Scavenger Hunt
Create a list of items that need to be found in the airport, from a plastic fork, to rainbow-colored sprinkles at an ice cream stand, to a blue teddy bear in a gift shop, to a view of the control tower. This airport game can be played collaboratively or not: everyone can go together, or you can split up your group and make a competition out of it.
2. Play “Car” Games
When killing time in the car, you may play “I Spy” or search for the alphabet one letter at a time. These same ideas lend themselves equally well to airport games for kids. Walk around and try to find every letter of the alphabet in your terminal, and “spy” items like a red suitcase, a baby doll, a sleeping baby, and a soda bottle. You can also pack some road trip games ahead of your trip to be extra-prepared.
Related: Best Road Trip Games for Families
3. Play on the Airport Playground
Many airports have play areas for kids. Terminal Two’s “Kids on the Fly” activity center at O’Hare in Chicago, Terminal C’s “Kidport” at Logan in Boston, and San Francisco’s aquarium at Lobby E are some our favorites.
4. Enjoy a Day at the Museum
Many airports feature art galleries, including Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, where the walkway between the T and A gates feature beautiful stone sculptures from Africa, and San Diego’s Terminal Two West, which has temporary and rotating cultural exhibits. Because your youngest kids won’t be interested, make your own museum-themed airport games for kids–whether it’s coming up with funny captions for paintings or posing for photos imitating the statues.
5. Enjoy a Progressive Dinner
Instead of selecting one restaurant, jump around and sample different restaurants in the airport for a progressive meal. Having appetizers at one, dinner at another, and dessert at yet another will not only kill time, but may prevent kids from getting too antsy during the meal.
6. Take a Dip
If your airport is connected to a hotel, you may be able to purchase day passes to the hotel’s swimming pool. You can do this at the Grand Hyatt DFW Airport Hotel’s rooftop saltwater pool, for example.
Related: 20 Family Resorts with Day Passes
7. Visit the Spa
From chair massages at XpreSpa in Terminal C of Philadelphia International to manicures and pedicures at Passport Travel Spa near Gate B6 in Indianapolis, spas are readily available at many airports. You’ve got time to kill — pamper yourselves!
8. Use Your Energy
Run the kids ragged — and give yourself a workout — with a walk around the airport. Go from terminal to terminal, up and down stairs and escalators and through various gates to rack up those FitBit steps. Split up and make it a walking race to see who gets back to gate the fastest. (Runners are disqualified!)
9. Watch Travelers Take Off
Maybe you’re stuck for the time being, but you can watch others make their getaway at airport observation decks. Baltimore/Washington’s airport provides rocking chairs to take in the views at the upper level Observation Gallery (between B and C Concourses), and LAX offers an outdoor observation deck on top of the Theme Building.
10. Turn to the Tablet
When you’re down to the last straw, don’t be afraid to hand over the iPad (for your kid’s sanity, and yours). When the kids get tired of Hangman and Tic-Tac-Toe, download a new game to occupy their time. Don’t have a tablet or phone you want to hand over? Search for complimentary airport tablets and other free airport perks.