In Praise of the iPad in an Airport

What can one do if stranded waiting for a flight, or perhaps just waiting for a flight without unexpected delays? It is amazing how much work and how much entertainment you can bring with you on an iPad. Depending on the amount of free space you have, you can fill up with more books, working documents, comic books, recorded or downloaded TV shows, and probably much else. For the academic, proofreading the proofs of a book you edited is easy, and switching back and forth between the document and a notepad to keep track of what needs to be addressed is a cinch. I think the biggest challenge when traveling with children in the future will not be how to keep them entertained, but whether, if you have only the one iPad, you are willing to give it up to let them get caught up on Doctor Who or whatever their latest favorite show might be.

I have not done much viewing on the iPad before now, and am glad I put more work, books, episodes and music on it than I thought I could possibly need on this trip. It pays to “overpack” when it doesn’t actually increase the size or weight of your iPad. But be aware that some file formats are still buggy, and some have to be uploaded directly using a particular app’s file sharing capacity rather than merely dragged across to the iPad. One I have already noticed is an issue with .mkv files on the only free player for the iPad that I am aware of, yxplayer lite. The video and audio can be out of sync enough to spoil your enjoyment. This may have more to do with the proliferation of different codecs rather than any fault on the part of the makers of the player, which works well with other file types.

You can also pass your time blogging, although if you do not have Wi-Fi access then actually posting what you write may have to wait until you get back.

Anyone else want to sing the praises of the iPad in such situations of prolonged waiting? Anyone encounter any specific issues that it might be worth warning others about, before they find themselves waiting for a 3am flight and unable to watch the shows they brought with them? Any other good uses for an iPad in an airport that I haven’t mentioned?

And while we’re at it, why can’t airports at least give you access to their web site for free via Wi-Fi, even if they charge you to surf the web? Libraries and other locations do that. It seems airports ought to as well.

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  • JSA

    You nailed it!  I got my iPad precisely because it could help me make the best of waiting situations.

    In business, I travel too much.  With the iPad, I can get to the airport early and not have to worry about dead time.  What was previously down time is now enjoyable and productive.

    As a husband, I’ve learned that you have to let your wife have her extended 8-hour shopping trips each weekend.  Just as the dog gets anxious if not taken on long walks, the wife gets anxious if the shopping trips are missed.  While she shops, I can sit on the “husband chairs” at the stores and be happily occupied.  No more rushing her. A happy wife and dog mean a harmonious family.

    As a father, I love that the kids can make use of their “waiting time” while all of the adults are engaged in intense philosophical discussion.  As you point out, the secret is to have exactly enough iPads to go around.  Too many, and they’ll never learn prosocial sharing strategies.  Too few, and they’ll overvalue a dead piece of silicon and fight.  Several of the kids apps support simultaneous play or group engagement, while others are quite amenable to turn-based play.

  • Brad Matthies

    Hi James,

    I have not made the iPad jump. However I have purchased a toshiba netbook. It goes with me on vacations, conferences, and traveling presentations. The darn thing is indispensable. I’m not a heavy consumer of movies or videos so it’s perfect. I can blog, work on articles, practice presentations, etc.

    And don’t get me started on Wi Fi access! Right now we are visiting relatives and staying in a cheapo Red Roof Inn. Totally free wi fi. At national I end up staying in one of the conference hotels and they ALWAYS charge for wi fi access. Total rip off!

  • Christian Brady


    Welcome to the fold! 😉 I have been very pleased using the iPad for over a year now. You have probably already seen my posts on using the iPad for fun and research, but if not this is a good start: And then all my “iPad” tagged stories can be found here:

  • Anonymous

    Ipad is good device to spend time and also useful to get updated information by Internet.  Always, keep safe iPad and also use it perfectly is important for long time using iPad.