How to Combat Airplane Boredom

Like many people, we generally don’t like flying. Being crammed like a sardine on a long haul flight, or being hassled to buy Ryanair scratch off tickets really takes the joy out of living a Greek myth. But if you want to experience far away lands, flying is a price you have to pay. We generally find that the more we’re occupied (or drugged to sleep), the faster the flight ends. We feel we arrived quicker to enjoy our destination. So here’s some ways to fast track time and combat airplane boredom!

Pick Airlines with Good Personal In-Flight Entertainment Options

There are some international carriers that have great in-flight entertainment in economy and pretty much have you covered on a flight. We’ve flown Emirates and the movie selection for every seat is fantastic. They’re a global carrier, which is reflected in entertainment choices. Whether you’re American, Indian or Chinese, you won’t be disappointed.

Other international carriers like Etihad and Qatar Airways, to name a few, also have great in flight entertainment ratings. But some major airlines can be very hit and miss (certainly American ones), or just plain bad. So it’s up to you to pack your own fun.

You can always mess with your loved one for entertainment!
You can always mess with your loved one for entertainment!…Alex corrected to say “No, do not wake me up for duty free! I already bought mine, thanks”

Bring Your Own Entertainment to Combat Airplane Boredom

These days more people have laptops. But access to wi-fi on an airplane is not always available.So if you’re accustomed to streaming entertainment through your computer, be sure you have some of your favorite movies or shows downloaded on your computer before you get on the plane.

Even for shorter flights, particularly if you have a connection or experience delays, combined with security and door to door travel, it can take a long time. And if you’re bored, you’re far more likely to feel agitated and stressed.

Anybody who flies frequently has witnessed people on the airplane who didn’t bring anything to entertainment themselves with. They often looks miserable and antsy, or just zoned out at the seat in front of them. Remember David Puddy from ‘Seinfeld?’ Don’t be that guy! If you don’t like to travel with a laptop, bring a good read or game as a backup just in case.

On a packed Emirates flight last year from Melbourne to Singapore, while we all had our own in flight video entertainment, the lady sitting next to us found hers broken. She complained to the flight crew, but there was no other seat available to relocate her. Suffice to say she was pretty angry, especially since she didn’t bring alternative entertainment for the 8 hour flight!

Airport Lounge Access

These days, airport lounge access isn’t just for first class travelers. Airport lounges have expanded to cater to middle class travelers as well. They offer a relaxing reprieve from busy terminals, sometimes with limited seating. Comfortable couches, complimentary food and drinks are often included in airport lounges.

These are some airport lounge pastimes. Here are some travel hacks that can help you get complimentary lounge access and save you big money on travel! We have complimentary Priority Pass lounge access. That’s given us complimentary lounge access everywhere from Australia, during a Tanzania safari, Istanbul, Shanghai, all over Europe, Japan and around the United States.

Stay Stocked with Alcohol to Assist with Airplane Boredom

If you’re on a long haul international flight and didn’t bring back up, hopefully you’re flying an airline that offers complimentary alcohol at least! Did you know that you can ask for two small bottles of liquor at a time? I always ask politely to begin a long haul flight, and the flight attendants always oblige…until I get cut off.

So pace yourself, don’t ask the same flight attendant, try not to slur your words, and cut yourself back to singles and then try and get some sleep. It’s not fun arriving at your destination already hungover. Also, drinking at altitude intensifies the effects of alcohol, so it can be quite the high wire balancing act up there. Know your limit, especially above 30,000 feet!

Travel with Loved Ones and Be Nice

Traveling with loved ones or friends can be entertaining. But if you’re very tired and bored it can also be taxing on your time together. Especially if you’ve been traveling together for days or weeks. There’s an excellent chance you’re going to start getting on each others nerves. We speak from experience!

So don’t just rely on your travel companions to perform a stand up comedy routine for your own delight! Playing cards might be a good idea. That’s if you can still stomach chatting to one another at the end of your trip!

You could work on the plane, and when things get boring you could have your furry friends step in for entertainment.
You can work on the plane, and when things get boring you can have your furry friends step in for entertainment.

How do you combat boredom on an airplane? Flying can be aggravating, so let’s help each other make it a little less sucky for everyone involved. Avoid annoying yourself, loved ones, friends or the random person sitting next to you!


  • Alex&Bell

    Alex and Bell originally met while solo traveling after finishing university in 2002, in Brugge, Belgium. Alex grew up in the USA and Bell hails from Australia. During our nearly 20 year marriage we've lived around the world, including spending six years living in the Netherlands and Ireland. We have traveled to nearly 70 countries and enjoy giving readers authentic and quality travel tips. Alex is an award winning travel journalist and travel planner, who also freelances for other outlets. Bell is an award winning PhD scientist who currently works for a non-profit lung cancer advocacy research organization called Lungevity. Happy travels and if you have any questions leave a comment or drop an email!

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4 thoughts on “How to Combat Airplane Boredom

  1. True!

    I always take a book – sometimes two, depending on the length of the flight.

    Though I do love the luxury of in-flight entertainment on airlines like Singapore Airlines and Emirates. Fortunately I’ve never had a situation where mine didn’t work (touch wood)! But there’s always a fair bit of time when that doesn’t work anyway, when you’re taxiing / taking off / landing, so the book comes in handy then as well.

    Sleep is another good one, if I can manage it.

    1. Hey Katie! Indeed, touch wood on the in flight entertainment always working- I’m doing so as I type this.

      Excellent point about the in flight entertainment being turned off during take off, landing and taxiing- which can easily total well over an hour or much longer. Plus there’s the time you’re waiting in the airport to board, standing in line to take your seat and then sitting, waiting to begin the taxiing process. So indeed, you can’t just rely on any airline, no matter how good, to entertain you.

      Sleep is great, hard to come by on a plane here too. Cheers and happy flying!

    1. That’s 2 for 2 on books! Commenters are kicking it old school here but we like it. Kindles are great but as a society many of us spend too much time in front of computers. There’s just something relaxing about an actual book!

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