While flight delays offer their own set of frustrations, awkwardly-timed flight segments, particularly the first segment of the day can also impact productivity and travel budget. When you’re left with periods of time that are too short to enjoy typical tourist attractions, the temptation can arise to overspend on transitional activities such as extended restaurant meals or shopping sessions at the local outlet mall. Here are some ways to put that time to more affordable and productive use.

Late Check Out                                                                                                                                                 

If you have a long period of time before your flight and your hotel chain’s loyalty program allows for it, consider opting for a late check out. It will give you more time to take advantage of the facility’s amenities such as breakfast buffet, pool, hot tub, workout room and Wi Fi. If your flight is long, this may be your only chance for exercise, eating and internet access for the entire day. It costs nothing to take advantage of the late check out option. So it makes sense to request the courtesy if the place you’re staying in allows it.

Happy Hour

airport waitingConsidering it’s standard practice for happy hour offerings to include free and reduced-price appetizers as well as bargain cocktails, this is a great strategy to use if your pre-flight wait time overlaps with a late-day meal time. Why pay full price when there are deals available on nearly any street corner? Since many bars and restaurants now offer complimentary internet access as well, you’ll be able to catch up on work communications while you indulge in a money-saving snack.

Executive Lounges

If you routinely hop flights at an exceptionally late hour and you still want to make the most of your post check out time, then taking advantage of a membership in the global network of priority pass lounges might be a good idea. They typically include napping areas, internet access, open bar and a day-long snack selection. So if you need to get your travel receipts in order and put together your expense report, the executive airport lounge is a great place to do that.  Bonus? The seats are notably more comfortable than those at the departure gate.

Spa Passes

If your hotel has an on-site spa with extensive amenities, consider booking a day pass as an affordable transition activity. Most are available for $25 – $30, and include such things as spa snacks, sauna time, beverage selection, an assigned locker and access to the outdoor pool area. It costs way less than a typical lunch out, and frequently comes with fitness facility privileges.


While it’s true this tip is more about entertainment, it’s still more cost effective than a designer shopping trip and a great way to take a bit of a mental escape before hopping on a long flight where you’ll be working on reports and other professional projects. Since movie tickets are routinely reduced in price until later in the afternoon, this strategy provides a fair amount of flexibility for the frequent traveler.

What are your favorite ways to utilize time before a flight? Do you prefer to get a bit of work done, or unwind before a long travel segment?

Myscha Theriault

Myscha Theriault

A lifelong money cruncher who can squeeze a nickel ‘til it cries, Myscha is a syndicated columnist, best-selling author, and founder of Trek Hound and We Be Sharin’.