How to keep the kids busy during flight delays

It’s the summer of flight delays and that means extra anxiety for family travelers.

Some of the most popular travel destinations also have airports with some of the worst flight delays.


The Family Vacation Guide has compiled research on the airports with the most delays as well as the airlines with the most delays. Data showed Newark Liberty International in New Jersey had the most. Arrivals on time amounted to 75.71% with delays representing 24.29% on average.

Newark was followed by LaGuardia, Dallas/Fort Worth, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International, Palm Beach International, Boston Logan, Louis Armstrong New Orleans International, Orlando International, San Antonio International, John F. Kennedy International and San Francisco.

The airlines with the most delays include Allegiant, which topped the list with an on-time average of 72.69%. Just over 27% of Allegiant flights are delayed or cancelled.

After Allegiant, these are JetBlue, Frontier, Envoy Air, United Airlines, American Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Southwest, Alaska and SkyWest.

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Travel technology, man with plane and laptop

For families traveling with children, flight delays can create panic to keep the kids occupied. Depending on the airport, parents may be lucky and find an indoor children’s play area like Kidport, located in Boston Logan.

Kate Brassington, co-founder of The Family Vacation Guide, also has some suggestions for parents who need to keep young travelers busy while waiting for their flight.

pen and paper

Brassington suggests bringing basics like a pen and paper for emergency entertainment needs.

“As a parent, it’s important to be prepared for all potential situations, this includes waiting for long periods without access to the internet or technology,” she said. “If that happens, a trusted pen and paper could save the day, from drawing pictures to playing simple games like tic-tac-toe and Pictionary.”

Guess who

Playing guessing games can distract kids while parents figure out their next steps after a flight cancellation or delay.

“A lot of people like people watching a bit, so why not make a game out of it like an actual version of Guess Who?” Brassington suggested. “Just take turns describing one person and the rest of the family guess who in the airport you are describing.”

Family wearing protective masks at the airport.
Family wearing protective masks at the airport. (photo via ArtMarie/E+)

be smart

Parents can also pack easy crafts.

“All you need is paper to make paper airplanes and have a flying competition, it’s something that can be done with the whole family,” noted Brassington. “If you have colored pencils, you can also personalize them.”

Take a walk and go on a treasure hunt

A scavenger hunt is a great way to entertain children.

“The airport is a big place with lots of room to walk around, but to make it a little more fun, create a treasure hunt around the airport, like plane, suitcase, shorts, hat sunshine, etc,” Brassington said.

hide and seek

Another game is hide and seek.

“Now it’s not traditional hide-and-seek because it’s not wise in a busy place, but you can play hide-and-seek with objects,” Brassington said. “Just select an object and hide it somewhere for kids to find, or have kids hide it in a specific space for adults to find.”

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