A 12-hour layover in London threatened to create a flight path through hard chairs, expensive meals and a cocktail tab. Fortunately, a short-term pass to the airline's VIP lounge solved the problem with a delivery of complimentary food, an open bar, free Internet access and a sleeping room. Other amenities included a playroom for children, television and magazines.
With minimal expense, terminal boredom can be converted into entertainment, relaxation and productivity. It's possible to stay wired, nourished and within a budget during flight delays or long layovers in airports. Make the most of delays with these travel tips.
Executive lounges: Even without a first-class ticket, it's possible to gain access to an airline's executive lounge. Some frequent-flier programs offer free access once travelers reach mileage targets. Membership to prioritypass.com enables travelers to purchase individual day passes to lounges around the world for less than $30. These passes can generate overall savings compared to hourly Internet rates and the cost of food and beverages in the main airport. VIP rooms provide the additional perks of comfort, luxury and networking. We bumped into an internationally known news anchor while checking e-mail at an airline's lounge in Europe. Amenities vary, but often include free Wi-Fi, beverages and snacks, plush chairs and business-office services.
Airline freebies: Some carriers provide vouchers for food and lodging when departure delays and canceled flights lead to missed meals and overnight stays. Visit the nearest customer service desk and inquire about food tickets and hotel reservations.
Art exhibits: Beyond cash registers and gourmet coffee stands, many airports allocate space for photo, painting and sculpture exhibits. Pittsburgh International Airport, for example, features a portfolio of art, history and commerce. Our personal favorites include a sculpture of Franco Harris, the legendary football player from the Pittsburgh Steelers, and a large dinosaur display, which is perfect for children. Lifelike statues by Duane Hanson attract attention at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Even smaller airports, such as Melbourne International Airport, have gallery and exhibit space suitable for travelers of all ages.
Instant office: With a smart phone, a laptop and a few files, it's business as usual for travelers facing lengthy airport delays. Airport terminals offer instant liberation from most interruptions and represent an ideal setting for purging out-dated e-mails, writing thank-you notes or reading reports.