11 Fun Things to Do on a Plane Flight

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There’s no doubt that air travel is a great way to get anywhere in the world quickly. But as convenient as it is, it can also be incredibly tedious.

Finding things to do on a plane is never a problem when you fly with a group of friends. Time flies when you have someone to talk to, so the journey will pass quickly. But if you are traveling on your own, you need to find ways to entertain yourself.

In this article, we will give you some ideas for things to do on a plane to pass the time when the plane has no Wi-Fi. After all, you rarely get the chance to sit down for such a long time, distraction-free, so why not make the most of it?

view down the aisle of a plane while people are using airplane console seatback entertainment

Prepare for your plane trip ahead of time

Traveling on a plane is exciting. You have that feeling of expectancy, the anticipation of being in another place, something you haven’t seen before. While all this excitement might be great when you’re waiting for your plane to take off, it can quickly diminish once you’re on the plane and find that there’s nothing to do.

Not to be Debbie Downer, but “I’ll just watch whatever’s available” doesn’t always work out so well. For one thing, not all airlines offer seatback entertainment. For another, there’s always a possibility that your screen or controller is broken. It’s happened to us more than once.

Once you’re in midair, it’s too late to look for ways to avoid getting bored on the plane. So plan ahead.

Captain Obvious

While we’re talking about preparing ahead of time, that includes packing. Don’t forget to put all the items you’ll need during your flight in your under-seat carry-on. Having to grab something from the overhead bin is super inconvenient!

ⓘ TIP: Keep your things in different zippered pouches to keep things organized and avoid dropping something under your seat. We use clear ones like these. We have a pouch for cables and chargers, a smaller one for comfort items like eye drops and lip balm, and another one with snacks and such.

Things to do on a plane

So let’s talk about some of the best ways to pass the time on a flight.

1. Stare out the window

View of the ground from an airplane. Wing in foreground. One of the best things to do on a plane is look out a window.

If you’re lucky enough to book a window seat, you’ll have built-in entertainment. When the skies are clear, the window offers a bird’s eye view of the planet. It’s fun to watch the world pass by from the air.

You’ll definitely have to be creative if you’re flying over the ocean or a blanket of clouds though, because watching the passing landscapes will no longer work.

So on to other options.

2. Learn a new language or improve one you already know

Any trip becomes more interesting when you’re able to talk to the locals. If you don’t speak the local language, this is the perfect time to learn a few basic phrases before you land.

There are some good free language apps out there (we like Duolingo), as well as tons of video tutorials that you can download and watch offline. Or you can buy a phrasebook or traditional workbook in the airport gift shop.

You can learn a lot of phrases in a short amount of time because you won’t have any distractions. By the time you land, you’ll be ready to set out and explore!

3. Read a new book

Best activities for plane ride include reading a book

Life is full of busyness, and an airplane ride is the perfect escape from that. Exciting stories can take you away from the routine and immerse you in a new fascinating world. You won’t even notice how quickly time flies by.

That’s a big reason why we never take off for a trip without bringing something to read. Reading material is imperative, as there are often long stretches of time during the course of your trip when you can’t use electronics or watch movies.

Take the time to relax in your seat with a new book or finish one that you started a long time ago. If you don’t know what to read, this amazing book is one of the best books to read on a plane to make your flight go faster.

Ebooks are a great alternative to the bulk and weight of physical books. Ebook readers hold a library’s worth of books and weigh almost nothing. Amazon also offers a free Kindle app, so it’s easy to download books to read on your phone or tablet.

4. Listen to audiobooks

If you don’t fancy reading or want to rest your eyes during the flight, you can get the same great content with audiobooks. Audiobooks use up less battery life than movies do, and they are more distracting than music.

There are lots of places where you can download audiobooks for free. Or you can subscribe to Audible—they offer a free trial—and download things to your Kindle or Audible app before takeoff. They have everything from books and magazines to newspapers and blogs.

If you have a set of noise-cancelling earphones or earbuds, you can get through an entire flight on audiobooks alone. Dollars to doughnuts, you’ll be so immersed in the stories that the flight will be over before you know it!

5. Listen to a podcast

hand holding phone with podcasts. Syncing with computer in background

Another way to avoid getting bored on a plane is to listen to podcasts. They generally require a little more attention than audiobooks might, but they’re still a lot of fun.

If you want to listen to a podcast, here are some of the possibilities:

  • Catch up on career developments
  • Learn more about a hobby or interest
  • Listen to a fresh interview with your favorite celebrity or blogger
  • Take lessons in foreign languages;
  • Listen to lectures
  • Learn about your destination on a travel podcast
  • and much more.

As with audiobooks, the great advantage of podcasts is that your hands will be free even while your brain is engaged. That will make it possible to stretch or do self-massage to relieve your muscles from sitting for a long time if you want.

6. Binge-watch your favorite TV show or watch a new movie

If you’re on a long-haul flight, you can binge-watch a season of Yellowstone, enjoy a new Netflix series, or rewatch your favorite movie series. It’s easy to download movies to watch later.

Of course, it goes without saying that you can also watch the in-flight shows. Many airlines list the films and TV episodes that are on offer on their websites. This makes it easy to plan what you’re going to watch even before you board the aircraft.

7. Master your photo gallery

Woman smiling at camera while using computer on a plane

Odds are, you’ve got bunches of photos and video clips on your phone and computer. And if you’re like most people, you’ve been meaning to get them organized but haven’t had the time.

Well, now you do!

As you go through them, you’ll no doubt find ones you want to share with your friends on Instagram and show your loved ones. This would be a good time to learn how to use photo editors like Photoshop or Lightroom.

Or you can download a video editor from Movavi and dive into a video montage. Who knows, maybe you will find it so much fun that you will start your own travel vlog!

8. Start a conversation

One of the hidden joys of flying is the fun of meeting new people. Rarely are you surrounded by as many people from different walks of life as you are on a flight. This can be a great time to meet some fascinating individuals.

While you wouldn’t want to annoy someone who’d prefer to be left alone, don’t be afraid to talk to your neighbor, either. He or she might be as bored as you are.

You never know who you might meet and what you might learn. Or what wisdom you might be able to share with someone else.

Sometimes, the most chance encounters can end up being the most memorable. So turn to your seatmate and introduce yourself!

9. Play games

Uno card game

Games make excellent airplane entertainment. I like to buy a puzzle book before boarding. Sudoku puzzles, crosswords, word searches, and logic questions are fantastic brain exercises and can keep you busy for hours.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a seatback screen, you can enjoy the listed games as inflight entertainment. If not, you can play solitaire and other games on your smartphone. Better yet, if your flight has free WiFi, you can even play online games like Tripeaks, Minecraft, or chess!

What about a handheld console like the Nintendo Switch or PlayStation Portable? The vast range of handheld games includes everything from traditional choices such as Chess to popular alternatives like Pokemon. Bring it on board, if you have one.

Games rank among the best things to do on a plane with a friend, too. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Pulling out a piece of paper for classic games like Hangman or Tic Tac Toe.
  • Playing magnetic board games, like Backgammon and Chinese Checkers.
  • Competitive word games like 20 Questions and Categories.
  • Engaging in card games like Uno, War, or Rummy.

Just don’t get too excited and start screaming. You don’t want to startle the other passengers!

10. Get some exercise

It’s especially important to keep your body active during a long flight so you don’t feel stiff and sore when you arrive. Stretching and exercising will help break down knots in your muscles and increase circulation, which will make you feel more energized. It will also help you avoid the risk of developing blood clots, which can be life threatening.

Change your position any way you can. Here are some ideas for things you can do while moving about the cabin:

  • Get up to use the lavatory as often as possible.
  • Walk up and down the aisle.
  • Do knee bends
  • Perform runners’ stretches
  • Do trunk twists
  • Try to touch the ceiling
  • Bend down and touch your toes.

Alternatively, you can try “seat-dancing.” Stretch your arm and leg muscles by reaching for any overhead bin or footrest that might be within reach. tap your toes against the floor, lift up your legs, or move around in your seat. You can also do resistance exercises, like pressing down hard on the arms of your seat.

11. Take a nap

Woman sleeping in front of an airplane window

Tops on our list of things to do on a plane is to try to get some sleep. There are so many benefits, not the least of which is that it’s a good way to catch up on your sleep.

Other benefits of sleeping on a plane:

  • It helps you avoid jet lag.
  • It reduces stress levels, which increase in those who have been traveling for long periods of time.
  • It helps you produce melatonin and maintain the circadian rhythm, which is essential if you want to arrive feeling refreshed.

Many people have trouble getting through their first day at a new destination without having had some sleep beforehand. Don’t let this be you.

ⓘ TIP: Melatonin is a hormone that your body naturally produces around bedtime. It’s a more natural alternative to a prescription sleep aid, and it’s available over the counter at drug stores. It’s also available online.

Final thoughts

We hope this list will help you the next time you’re on a flight. But we’ve only scratched the surface.

What are your favorite things to do on a plane to avoid boredom? How do you keep the kidlets entertained? Leave a comment below for your fellow travelers!

Friends seated in two rows of an airplane. Text overlay says "fun things you can do on a plane"

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Written by Linda

Linda is multilingual and has been to over 50 countries. Her insatiable love of travel, cuisine, and foreign languages inspired her to create As We Saw It, where she documents her trips, shares practical itineraries, and offers insider tips. She’s passionate about helping fellow travelers save time, money, and hassle, and loves to discover new places to explore.

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