A woman looking at her phone during a flight

10 Things to Do on a Plane to Pass Time

Flight entertainment is one of the essential considerations before you decide on which airline to use for travel. It is easily recognizable that on long flights, you will most likely run out of things to do on a plane to pass time, and boredom will catch up.

Certain flights have interesting inflight entertainment options, some have very limited options and others do not have any at all. Depending on the length of your flight, it’s a good idea to identify the things you can do to pass the time. These activities, however, may depend heavily on your hobbies and socializing skills.

You can always pass time by sleeping, but many of us are not able to sleep on planes. Too noisy and uncomfortable. Let’s also take Wi-Fi out of the equation. It’s rarely reliable and most times is at an extra cost. There are many things to do on a plane to pass time that don’t require the internet.

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10 Things to Do on a Plane to Pass Time

1. Play some games

Playing a game can be one of the best airplane activities for adults. If you enjoy playing non-data-using iPhone (or Android) games, then this is the perfect time to beat your high score. If not, this is still an excellent time to start and know the reason why your kids are always glued to their phones. Even without an internet connection, many offline games can keep you busy for hours.

Some other games include pocket/travel games like Backgammon or dice, paper games like Hangman (if you have company) or cards. Or solo pursuits like solitaire, crosswords, or Sudoku. You can call this an old fashion way of having fun but is actually helpful for improving your creativity and social life as well.

2. Creative writing

Writing is an excellent way to get going for authors, scholars and even students. Flight time is the opportune moment to do this since the distractions of everyday life (phone calls, emails, television, chores, work, etc) are not present and you have the opportunity to focus and relax. You can try your hand at a short story, write a letter to a friend, catch up on some email replies that will send once you land, or even write in a personal journal.

If you have a blog then this is a perfect time to draft up an article or two. Put on some noise canceling headphones, block out the rest of the world and start writing.

3. Learn a language

For introverts, you do not have to talk to someone to learn a language. There are language apps like Babbel and Duolingo. Make sure to download one of these before your trip from babbel.com or duolingo.com.

For the extroverted people, this is the ideal time to make friends from a foreign nation. Instead of having general talks, you may spice up the conversation by learning a few words in their native language. You may end up teaching them yours as well.

4. Watch a movie or TV series

A man watching movie on his laptop during a flight

Wi-Fi connections on flights are not always reliable, or free. You may make a plan of things to do during the flight, and they all get squashed due to lack of internet connection.

Which makes it a good idea to preload your content on your phone, tablet or laptop before the flight. Some of the items to preload include reading content, movies, TV shows, and even music.

5. Keep your hands busy

This could be anything really. Playing solitaire with a real deck of cards, playing games on your phone or maybe Nintendo Switch, doing origami, editing some photos on your laptop, flip through a magazine.

Keep your mind busy and your hands busy and time will fly by. It’s when you sit there with nothing to do that a 2 hour flight feels like a 4 hour flight.

For ideas on what to bring to play with, check out this flight attendant’s list of travel essentials.

6. Have a conversation

Whether it is to your seat-mate or flight attendant, small talks and discussions are an excellent way to pass the time. For the people who are social and extroverted, this is a perfect time to exercise your skills. Talk to someone, see if you have anything in common.

However. Keep in mind that many people, myself included, simply do not want to be bothered on their flights. So use good judgement on whether or not to strike up a conversation with someone. Many love chatting it up with strangers, just be on the lookout for those who obviously would rather just enjoy their flights in quiet comfort with no distractions.

7. Stretch out

For long flights, the small spaces in regular seats may lead to a tension buildup in your muscles. During long trips, doctors advise that you should stand up and stretch at least once every hour. This will not only enable your muscles to relax but also increase the flow of blood to the stagnant areas.

If your flight is over a couple of hours long it’s definitely a good idea to get up and walk around, even if you have to ask your neighbor to get up so you can go to the bathroom.

8. Coloring for adults

That’s right, coloring is not only meant for kids! Adult coloring has become very popular in recent years.

There are simple coloring books for kids, and there are the ones made specifically for adults as well that present more challenging patterns. Coloring does not only keep your mind busy but also helps in creativity and stress reduction.  Get yourself some of the adult coloring books on Amazon.

9. Spend time with your kids

A kid watching cartoons during a flight

If you are going on an extended family flight with kids, there is no better way to pass the time than keeping the kids busy.

Not the most ideal way to spend your time on a flight but you need to keep your kids calm and relaxed on a flight. This is also a perfect time for some bonding so take advantage. Play some of those games with your child, or read them a story.

10. Listen to a podcast or audiobook

This is another way to ensuring that you get to your destination fully occupied. It is essential to identify what types of a podcasts you would want to listen to. Download a few episodes before your flight. Personal development podcasts are helpful, or maybe interviews of celebrities or storytelling podcasts. I get mine right from the podcasts app on my iPhone.

If you have a subscription to Audible, which I highly recommend for a flight, then you can download your audiobooks to your device making them available anywhere. Use this link to sign up for a free 30 day trial of Amazon’s Audible, and get 2 free audiobooks. You can cancel before the 30 days is up and you are 2 audiobooks richer without spending a dime. Make sure you have a good pair of noise cancelling bluetooth headphones.

Before we wrap up, here are some tips for what not to do to on a plane:

  • take your socks off
  • move around too much in your seat
  • try out new medication, or take more than is recommended
  • make improper jokes, i.e., joke about bombs
  • drink too much
  • misuse the call button (for flight attendants)
  • infringe the space of your neighbor (or seat)


There you have it: 10 different things to do to pass time on a plane. Everyone has their ways of avoiding boring flights. These, however, depend on your own personal preferences.

Whatever you choose to do, make sure it does not in any way affect the comfort of your neighbor or a fellow passenger. There are a lot of ideas to choose from. Be as comfortable as you want to be but always stick to the airline’s rules and regulations during travel.