17 Fun Things to Do on a Plane (Plus a Cheeky One)

Flying can be a huge bore, especially on long-haul flights if you have nothing to keep you occupied.

Remember, it is not unusual for the onboard in-flight entertainment system to have technical problems, and for the aircraft’s wi-fi to be temperamental (or non-existent) so having something else to do can be a real benefit to help pass away a few hours.

You are really only limited by your imagination and the space available in your carry on luggage to take things to do of course.

So, here are some fun things to do on a plane to keep you busy and avoid dying from boredom. Sure I am exaggerating, although I am old enough to have flown on long-distance flights to Australia when air travel was slow with the flight time was over 26 hours and the only inflight entertainment was to read a book. Now that was boring!

17 Fun Things to Do on a Plane (Plus a Cheeky One) 1

Watch a movie or a TV series

things to do on a plane - watch movies

Watching movies can be a sure way of keeping yourself occupied during your next long-haul flight.

I never seem to find the time to watch those blockbuster films that I really would like to see when I am at home as there is always something else to do. So I normally take the opportunity to catch up with these on a flight.

I often download a whole box set of a series I have been meaning to watch offline and binge-watch the lot on a long flight.

You can leave it to chance and hope that the in-flight entertainment selection has something you want to watch or you can download some movies or tv shows onto your tablet or laptop to binge watch from Netflix or a similar streaming service.

Read magazines

stuff to do on a plane - read magazines

These can come in handy, especially if the plane does not have the ones that interest you. Actually, I rarely buy magazines these days but always seem to buy two or three when killing time waiting for a flight. I have been glad I did more than once too.

The good thing about magazines is that there is always a magazine that suits your area of interest be it fashion, sports, skateboarding, cars, healthy living and even professional matters like business. So, work your way through these magazines and see just how time really flies.

Magazines are a great way of passing time, especially during the first and last fifteen minutes of the flight, when electronics are normally switched off.

Talk to someone

things to do on plane - talk to someone

Very few people understand the power of meeting new people. It’s always good to engage in a conversation with the person sitting next to you on that plane.

Kick start a casual conversation with your neighbor. Introduce yourself and ask their name, where they come from, what they do … you know, small talk.

You may find an interest that you both share, like watching football, or basketball. And who knows, you might have made a very good friend or a business partner on your way to your destination.

Playing paper games

stuff to do on a plane - play games

Games can be a fun way to get you and the people around you engaged if you are traveling with someone.

Word and math games like crosswords, sudoku and word searches are fun things to do when flying. Pick them up at the airport before you board the aircraft.

They keep you thinking and mentally alert which is not only fun but also fosters creativity.

Read a book

things to do on a plane to pass time - read a book

Reading is definitely one of my favorite things to do on a plane to pass time, especially on a long haul flight.

I never seem to find the time to settle down for a good long read at home so flying is the one time I can indulge myself.

Thanks to digital books, you don’t even have to add more weight to your baggage. My Kindle is a must on a flight.

Avoid reading flight disaster books though, they might make you tense and uncomfortable!

Play computer games

pass the time on long haul flights - computer games

Playing games on a phone, console, tablet or laptop can be a fun way to kill a few hours.

Even if you don’t have a dedicated handheld games console such as a Nintendo Switch you can download some games onto your cellphone or tablet before you fly. There are many games you can download onto your phone that don’t require an internet connection to use them so hunt these out, download them and take them with you.

If you have a laptop with you then you can play pc games on it if you have any loaded.

If you do not have access to the aircraft’s wifi then the games will have to be stand-alone that don’t need the internet to operate.

Most inflight entertainment systems also have games built in that you can play too.

Important: If you do play games then make sure you either have the sound turned off or you use headphones or earbuds. Computer games can have inane soundtracks which the passengers around you do not want to have to listen to while you play.

Learn a language

things to do on an airplane - learn a language

If you are heading to a new country, this is definitely a fun way among the top things to do on a plane. Learn their language because you will blend in more and interact with the people in the country of your destination.

You don’t have to go in too deep. Simply learning a few common phrases: greetings, please, thank you, can I have etc. These can all go a long way and it is usually appreciated by the locals if you at least, try rather than expecting everyone to speak English.

This can be possible through the use of an app. There are hundreds of free ones on the internet that can help you. I usually use Duolingo.

Read your guidebook

things to do while flying - read a guidebook

If you are traveling to a new country or city then you may have bought a travel guide before you left home or at the airport. Now is a great time to find out about your destination and plan exactly what you want to see and do.

If you want to book some trips and activities then the best place to look is at GetYourGuide. They cover every destination you can think of with a huge range of affordable trips and activities. Check out your destination at Get Your Guide.

Catch up with work

things to do on a plane to pass time - work

Well it is fun if you enjoy your work!

Be productive. Do you have a school assignment or office work that you have not yet finished? Instead of wondering how to keep yourself from getting bored during your flight, get down to business and finish up work that you left half-way done.

You can open up your laptop on a plane and go through e-mails that have piled up over time offline and reply to those you struggle to answer during your normal working day. Although without an internet connection they will not be sent, they will be as soon as you connect your laptop to the internet at your destination.

Better still, if the airline has wi-fi then carry out that research you just haven’t found time for. The flight is a suitable environment to catch up as there are little or no distractions.

This will not only keep you occupied but may also save time and save you from that last-minute panic. You can arrive at the meeting or presentation you are traveling for nicely prepared.

Listen to music

fun things to do on a long flight - listen to music

If you have music downloaded onto your phone or mp3/4 player then you can close your eyes and just allow your favorite music to let you drift away.

If you have access to the aircraft wifi then you can use a music streaming app such as Spotify. Read my post how to listen to music on a plane to find out more.

I like to listen to classical music while flying but as it can be quite quiet it can be difficult to hear using standard headphones or earpods. Having a good pair of noise-canceling headphones can make all the difference, not just to the sound of the music but also in eliminating the wearing aircraft noise.

Look out the window

things to do while flying - look out of the window

I have spent many happy hours just looking out of the window when I have been on long flights just watching the changing landscapes below.

My mind normally starts to wander when I do this. I find myself thinking “Where would I choose to live if I was down there” or remembering past visits to similar landscapes.

If you are flying over a large ocean then it is not so interesting, but you might see the occasional ship to break up the monotony. I think the most monotonous landscape I have flown over was the Sahara desert – hours of just yellow.

Do some handicrafts

activities to do on a plane - do handicrafts

Handicrafts are very popular and many of them you can carry out quite easily on a long flight while seated. So take your knitting, crocheting, embroidery, macrame or cross-stitch on board with you.

This is something my wife often does and can happily pass many hours doing it too.

And yes, you can take knitting needles in carry on but it is safer to take plastic ones rather than metal as in some situations metal ones may be confiscated.

Listen to a podcast/audiobook

fun things to do on the plane - listen to podcast

Do you want to learn something new or simply get some entertainment without having to stare at a screen? Well, a podcast is a great alternative so you can close your eyes, relax and listen.

There are podcasts on just about any subject imaginable, no matter how obscure.

You can install a podcast app on your phone or tablet and download some to listen to on your flight.

Another possibility is listening to a talking book. Audible has a massive selection of digital audiobooks to choose from.

You can try Audible free for a month and get two free audiobooks of your choice.

Take a nap

things to do on a plane - take a nap

Taking a nap is a great way to kill time. It can also help you feel fresher and even reduce the effects of jet lag if you are flying across a number of time zones.

So grab a pillow, eye mask, earplugs and get ready for some wild dreams. But try not to snore – your fellow passengers won’t be impressed!

Read my post How to sleep comfortably in Economy Class – My top tips to help that nap along.

Creative writing

things to do on an airplane - creative writing

With silence comes creativity, so when the plane is silent (well sort of), what better way to pass the time than writing?

You don’t have to be a writing expert to do so, you can simply write your journal, it doesn’t have to be about past experiences, you can think out loud in your notebook about your flight, your destination, your expectations and so much more.

Meditate

fun things to do on an airplane - meditate

Meditation works best in silence. So why not do that on a plane, especially when everyone else is quiet and minding their own business. Meditate on your life, your achievements, focus on your inner being and give it some attention.

The lists you might have made can give you a good start on areas to meditate. Is there a better way to meditate than being seated miles away from the chaos below and closer to the cosmos?

You may struggle to meditate in the Lotus position though!

Write lists

fun things to do in an airplane - write lists

This might be a crazy yet fun way to be occupied during your flight. Think broadly and write a list or even multiple lists.

  • write your goals for the next year and how to achieve them
  • the things you are going to do when you arrive at your destination
  • Your top 10 movies or songs
  • Things you want to fix in your house

The possibilities are endless … so get a pen and paper and write lists to keep yourself busy. You can even rewrite your bucket list!

And a final cheeky one …

The Mile High Club


If you are traveling with your significant other, and you are both bored, then one of the sauciest things to do on a plane might be to join the Mile High Club. Look it up on Wikipedia if you don’t know what that is. 😉

Try and remember to take these things with you

A pen and notebook. A pen and notebook can come in very handy, so always remember to carry them. Unless you are not so old school in which case you can of course use your tablet or phone.

Chargers or a power bank. These are a must if you want to keep yourself occupied throughout your flight without your devices going flat. Your phone, or laptop might need charging at some point, so remember to pack them. I use this one – Anker PowerCore 20100

Gaming equipment like poker cards and other materials that you can use to play games

Toys, colors, drawing books. Particularly handy if you have kids. These things can keep them occupied and keeps them from making a fuss and disturbing you when you are trying to relax, and you can also do these activities with them, be it drawing or coloring. If you are a parent, then you already know your kids are so good at keeping you busy and occupied.

Noise-cancelling Headphones. I cannot do without mine anymore. They are the first thing I pack for any flight. They are perfect for cutting out the aircraft noise, allowing you to relax, watch a movie or listen to music or learn your new language. The ones I use at the moment are the Paww WaveSound 3 Wireless Active Noise Cancelling Headphones.

Lightweight travel blanket. You will probably want to sleep during the flight, or at least attempt to, so bringing a blanket on a plane is a good idea to help as you may get cold once you are asleep.

Long haul flights travel tips

Drink plenty of water

It is important to keep yourself hydrated when flying on a long-haul flight as the recycled air is very dry. So drink lots of water, which may have the added bonus of forcing you to get up and visit the aircraft’s restroom now and again (see below).

You can bring water on a plane that:

  • you purchase after passing through the security checkpoint
  • you can buy it onboard
  • if you have brought an empty water bottle on the plane with you and have filled it up at a drinking fountain in the terminal after airport security. The crew may refill it for you if you ask.

As tempting as it may seem, you would be well advised to not drink too much alcohol as this also dehydrates you.

Bring snacks and candy with you

Although on a long-haul flight the flight attendants will bring food around, there is nothing like having a supply of your favorite snacks and candy with you that you can eat when the mood takes you.

Move around as much as possible

When you are flying on a long flight and therefore seated in one position for many hours it is possible for blood clots to form, particularly in the legs, due to deep vein thrombosis.

To try and reduce the risks of this you should:

  • when sitting do as much stretching as you can and don’t sit with your legs crossed, at least not for long periods at a time
  • make sure that perhaps every hour you get up, stretch and have a short walk, perhaps to the restroom.
  • consider wearing compression socks to help stop this too.