How to Survive Airport Stopovers

Changi Airport Roof Top PoolChangi Airport Roof Top Pool

Stopovers don not have to be tedious there are ways to make them bearable, even enjoyable.

Trying to fill in time in airports is right up there as one of the worst parts of travelling: every hour seems like two when you are sitting out a long stopover.

Travelers with several hours to kill are often tempted to go sightseeing. While this can work in a city such as Hong Kong, which has a fast train from the airport, it can be fraught with danger in cities with traffic problems.

We usually recommend that you do not leave the airport unless you have at least five hours between flights and even then, it pays to check on transport options.

If you are stuck at an airport for an extended period, do not torture yourself by staring out the window or pacing around a departure lounge, airport facilities are improving all the time.

Find a Lounge

Do not assume lounges are only for first and business class travelers.

Some airports now have pay-to-enter lounges, giving economy class passengers access to a range of facilities for a one off fee. For example, Plaza Premium Lounge operates at several major airports,
including Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Hong Kong, and offers facilities including showers, snack bars, hot and cold drinks, internet access and magazines and newspapers, for about $25 for a five hour stay.

Ask staff from the airline or airport information counter if there is a lounge you can access.

Freshen Up

Even if you cannot get access to a lounge, you can often find a shower in an airport.

Some airports have free showers (no towels or soap provided,) while others have serviced shower facilities where you can get basic amenities for a small fee.

It is amazing how differently you feel about the world after a shower and sometimes it can be a long time until the next one.

Go the Chop

Have one less thing to fit in when you get home by having a haircut at the airport.
Many airports now have hairdressers tucked in amongst their retail shops or lounges and they can usually fit you in quickly.

It might be a good idea to make sure there are shower facilities in the airport, to save you itching and scratching all the way through your next flight.

Go surfing

Internet access is now available at most airports, although you sometimes have to hunt around to find it.

Lounges provide free access, but there are often also computer terminals in the main part of the airport, offering either free or pay as you go internet.

Send emails to your family and friends, research your holiday destination, look up transport options for when you arrive or learn a few words of the local language where you are going.


If you have already spent many hours squashed into an airline seat and have another long flight ahead of you, it is a good idea to spend some of your transit time getting some exercise.
Walking is the most obvious option and there are always plenty of kilometres to cover in airports, get a luggage trolley if your carryon baggage is heavy.

Another option is to look for a gym, sometimes available in pay to enter lounges, or day use of a swimming pool.

At Singapore's Changi Airport, one of the best airports in which to be killing time, you can use the pool of the Ambassador Transit Hotel for about $10. The fee includes a towel, shower facilities and a cold drink.

Be Pampered

From basic massages to indulgent spa treatments, you can now find pampering at most airports.

Many airlines have their own facilities, such as Thai Airway's new spa for first and business class travelers at Bangkok's Suvarnabbumi Airport, although there are often other options, either in the airport terminal or at airport hotels.

The Regal Airport Hotel at Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok Airport has more than 40 different types of massage, along with a range of other spa treatments.

At Singapore's Changi Airport, try the Rainforest Lounge, where the prices for massages, facials, manicures and pedicures are very reasonable.

Spend Wisely

Shopping is the most obvious way to kill time in an airport but I'm not a fan of shopping for the sake of shopping you tend to go home with a bag stuffed with things you don't really need.

Do some more productive shopping by thinking ahead to any upcoming birthdays or events and seeing if you can find suitable gifts.

Be Entertained

If you have not already watched enough movies on the plane, you might be able to catch a flick in the airport.

Changi Airport has two free movie theatres, while many airports show popular television shows or documentaries on large screens. It also has several Xbox game stations. Yes Changi is the champion again.


If you can't sleep on planes, catch some z's in an airport hotel or "napping lounge".

Many airport hotels offer really good value, such as the new Novotel at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport which has been offering day use from just $81.

Some airports, including Narita in Japan also offer napping suites, where you can stretch out for a few hours for a small fee.

Excellent Tips

Wow, thanks for the tips.

I once found a website (I can't reproduce it right now, maybe someone else finds it), that listed the location of the lounges on all airports. Even if you don't enter the lounge, you can still use the wi-fi network to surf for free if you are standing close enough (maybe find a seat row right next to it).

Most of the stuff I never considered on my layovers. I will check back here before I go on my next flight ;-)


Some great tips, i hate

Some great tips, i hate stopovers at airports esp when you arrive 3 hours early and find that your flight is delayed!  My favourite thing to do is to watch a movie on my Ipod or connect to the airport wi-fi and surf the net on my ipod.

All great tips. 

All great tips.  Especially on the airport hotels.  Most of them also have a comfortable lobby, and if you ask politely, they'll often give you the password for free wireless connectivity.

If you do plan on taking a nap at an airport hotel, book a room online, the walk-up rates are typically outrageous.   It may seem a bit odd to book a hotel from your laptop in the lobby, but you'll save a bunch. 



I hate stopovers, they don't make the airports comfortable enough do they lol! Thanks for the tips dude.

fly direct!

Good tips. I hate flying, but it is a "necessary evil" to get where I want to go! I've missed to many connecting flights, and will now pay almost any premium necessary to get a direct flight. But sometimes that is just impossible, so these tips are valuable. Still, I say, when you can, pay the extra to fly direct. Don't risk missing the first day of your vacation. ~ Steve@displays

working to retire (and travel!)

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