13 August 2014

Whether your flight is delayed or you've already done your sudoku, chances are, you'll find yourself bored in an airport at some point.

But never fear! The Career Break Site is here to help you out with a round-up of games and activities that anyone can play in an airport - and will hopefully make you some new friends along the way too.

Game on.

Sweet strawberry, sour lemon

A variation of the game you played as kids, where you'd pull faces out of the back of the car and see if the driver behind you smiled (sweet strawberry) or gave you the finger (sour lemon). I dunno what you called it where you're from, that was the name we had in Surrey.

Anyway, find a partner, and get busy smiling at random strangers. Score one point for each sweet strawberry and at the end of your pre-determined time period (or until security escorts you from the building), see who has the most points.

Games to play in airports - sweet strawberry sour lemon

Lemons actually have more sugar, fact fans! Photo by RittyRats.


What do you know?

Another partner game. Look at the destinations on the departure board. Each person takes the next one in the list and says what they know about that destination. Score one point each for:

  • The country that the city is in
  • The currency
  • Language
  • Famous natives (one point each)
  • A random interesting fact (what constitutes 'interesting' is up to you and your partner, or can be settled with fists)

The person with the most points wins a drink from the airport bar.

Games to play in airports - red wine glasses

I said ONE. Photo by DorteF.

Eau de backpacker

Create a new, bespoke perfume from blending the free samples at the duty free. Do this on a sample stick, rather than on your skin, unless you want to annoy everyone in the seats around you on the plane. Or on someone else's skin.

Games to play in airports - boxes of perfumes

"With top notes of boredom, balanced by a heady aroma of delayed flight." Photo by Andre Moreaux.

House of cards

Got a pack of cards but are too shy to ask anyone to play with you? Build a house of cards and when someone knocks it over, say they can join you in a game by way of apology. They won't be able to say no. (Note: don't do this in an area with a high volume of kids, or you'll end up playing snap for hours with increasingly angry toddlers).

Games to play in airports - cards

This is about as far as my card houses usually get. Photo by Philippa Willetts.

Creative noughts and crosses

"LIberate" some stirrers and packets of sugar from the coffee bar. Use them to make a grid, then play noughts (sugar packets) and crosses (coffee stirrers). You can also use coffee stirrers to play Morris, or pick-up-sticks. Drop them on the table, then each player has to pick one up without disturbing the rest of them. Lose points for swearing or letting the cleaner sweep them all away.

Games to play in airports - coffee stirrers

Coffee stirrers. There is literally no way to make these look interesting. Maybe we should have used a picture of a puppy instead. Photo by Mykl Roventine.

What's my line?

Guess what profession your other travellers are in. Ask them (pretend you're doing a survey) and score 2 points for each correct answer and one point for each close one. You can add extra scoring if you like, such as an extra point for 'a job I'd like to have' (hello website writers!) or lose a point for 'that sounds like the most boring thing on earth'.

Games to play in airports - doctor

I don't even want to know. Photo by Mike Bitzenhofer.

Security guess

Find a partner, and position yourself where you can watch people coming through security. Each pick a characteristic and score one point for each person who matches it as they come through. You can start easy (male, female, old, young etc), then move onto things like 'wearing glasses', 'still putting their belt back on', 'has already had a fight with their significant other'. The advanced version of this game involves you picking 2 characteristics, then scoring double if someone matching both of them comes through.

Games to play in airports - airport security

"Works for airport security" doesn't count. Photo by Redjar.

Facilities guess

A similar game, but in this case, you guess where the person is going first, based on their appearance. Again, position yourselves by security, and score one point each time you correctly guess the destination of each traveller, eg the toilets, duty free, bar, restaurant or to the window to watch the planes. You score one point for each predictable outcome (eg alcoholic heading for the bar, another alcoholic heading for the duty free) and 2 for each less predictable one (eg stick insect going to the burger place, kid not heading straight for the toilets).

Games to play in airports - airport security queue

My guess is that most of them will be heading to someone they can complain to. Photo by Karl Baron.

Human poohsticks

I love this game. You need to be in an airport with a concourse that you can stand on and watch people coming through. You and your partner each pick a person at the far end, and then see whose person comes out from under the concourse first. If you shout at them to "hurry the **** up you dozy *******' you are automatically disqualified.

Games to play in airports - human poohsticks at Bejing airport

Unless you shout it at them in their native language. Photo by hjl.

Rate my landing

If you're by a runway, rate the landings of the planes coming in, out of 10. This is more exciting if there's a gale blowing obviously, but it is surprising how many times a pilot will do a wobbly touchdown on a fine day.

Games to play in airports - plane landing over beach

They could have chosen a more considerate place to land, IMO. Photo by Richie Diesterheft.

If all else fails

And you're still bored, go to the bar. Drink your boredom away.


Have you got any more ways to pass the time in an airport? Tell us in the comments!