Killing Time (At Airports)

I’ve been in a couple airports over the last few weeks, LAX, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Sacramento. Airports, as it turns out, are great places for people watching to pass the time. And there always seems to be time…


I do the whole people watching thing and scoop up character details for new stories. You know, finding that loud guy in a Mexican restaurant hunched over his plate of tacos, complaining about how many Mexicans are taking all the good jobs. Yeah, I hope that taco tastes really special.  Then, there’s the xanax and vodka glazed businessman putting the last changes on his powerpoint presentation before the big meeting.

I like to arrive early, before boarding time, and take in the show. The gate runners sprinting to the next terminal, the spontaneous roller bag ballet that happens in the middle of the concourse, and then there is my favorite, the phone cord holding zombie who wanders from gate to gate in search of an open electric plug.

If you’re delayed, or have some time to kill during a layover, I have a few suggestions to make the time productive. A “Mullet Hunt” is always a winner. Spotting that elusive business in the front party in the back style is harder than it once was due to the proliferation of the Devil’s Spawn that is the “Man Bun.”

Other fun games include:

  • Pin a PBR on the Hipster
  • How many times will she say “I’m vegan” in a single conversation?
  • My carryon luggage is bigger than yours
  • How far can I let my kids run before I get off my ass and go find them?
  • How many pre-board wheelchairs and unaccompanied minors will board before me?
  • Why does the TSA screening feel like a bad game of Naked Twister?
  • How many times will the gate agent get blamed for the fog delay?
  • Bumper car luggage (extra points for shin bruising)

Then, there’s always the old standby of Airport Emotional Baggage Bingo. If you can find a manic person, an angry guy, a snooty gal, a guy with a hangover and someone crying — that’s a bingo.  (They all have to be at your boarding gate) And you have to yell bingo. Yeah, you might get a couple of odd glances, but you’re a winner. Unfortunately, that’s where your winning streak ends, because all that emotional baggage is getting on the SAME PLANE AS YOU.

Thank you for flying with us…


So, fess up. What have you done to pass the time at an airport lately?




  1. Emotional Baggage Bingo has been done to death. That’s just any random holiday with the in-laws. But Bad Hair Bingo! Now that is my new favorite thing!

    1. Okay, I have to admit Bad Hair Bingo is a winner. I will play that one on the next road trip. Thanks Robin!

      1. Kristin · ·

        Now the folks who only shave half their heads

  2. Not a problem for me, I don’t fly! Plus I listen to audio books to avoid Emotional Baggage Bingo. Bad Hair Bingo is off limits.

    1. I think you are the ultimate winner for avoiding air travel. It’s not fun anymore. They have become cattle cars with wings and the TSA are wranglers with cattle prods moving us through the corrals. But a rousing game of Bad Hair Bingo can pop up anywhere — post office, grocery store, even the gas station.

  3. Good question. Find the bathrooms comes to mind. Followed by where’s the drinking fountain and what language is the boarding agent speaking. Are B liners supposed to stand to the right or left of the sign and does my butt look as bad as the lady in spandex. Always a good one: Bet which people are going to Vegas then follow them to see if you’re right.

    1. Some of the low budget airlines (who shall go unnamed) must troll for passengers on the People of Walmart Facebook page. Because, Oh my God. The Guess where they’re going game is always a good one!

  4. Kristin · · Reply

    1. Staring at people pretending i don’t speak Spanish 2. Ditto for English 3. Judging people by books they read 4. Stereotyping groups of people 5. Spacing out my beverages so i don’t attract attention 6. Faking my intense distaste of authority figures so they don’t prod at me harder 7. Prayer to alleviate the anxiety 8. Clutching safety blanket with headphones in ans no music playing to avoid social situations 9. Spot the celebrity 10. Checking work emails (mandatory) and counting down the days until no longer dealing with glazed over businessman

    1. Nice list! I admit wearing the headphones with music as a signal that I want to be left alone. There is always that one guy who insists on asking a question or starting up a discussion. Celebrity spotting is always a possibility at LAX. And i did pretend not to speak English once when I was in a big European city.

      1. Hahaha! That Happened to me Sunday. Some guy trying in every language. Blank stare…headphones in lol.

      2. Last time i was behind Keanu Reeves in the security line. After i watched a full on marathon. It’s like i caused him to manifest. Very exciting!

      3. No kidding? Wow! I’m gonna have to watch a Charlize Theron marathon next time I have to hit the security line.

      4. For real! She’s awesome!

  5. Chris Jones · · Reply

    Funny! Love it.

  6. Yeah. I play this one ALL THE TIME: “How far can I let my kids run before I get off my ass and go find them?” Also, people-watching should be an Olympic sport.

    1. Thanks Sarah! If Rhythmic Gymnastics is an olympic sport, then people watching must be there. We need to set up a protest at the next olympic committee meeting. #peoplewatchingmatters

  7. I pass the airport altogether. Although you make it sound so fun, I might just go to hang out at the terminal. Great post!

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