Work desk laptop, Kiev Airport, Ukraine beer plane

Why I Love Working In Airports! Digital Nomad Guide to Airport Working

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As I’ve mentioned in many posts now, I have a fully remote online job where I can work from anywhere in the world. I travel a lot but I always make sure that the work gets done first, because without my job, my travels will come to an abrupt halt!

I’ve been to some remote places, countries that some would consider dangerous but also some fantastic towns and cities around the world. I try to work from coworking spaces when possible, otherwise, it will be a desk in my hotel or a dining room table in my AirBnB.

But of all the places I’ve worked, I really enjoy working in airports.

Being a slight plane nerd means I thoroughly enjoy travelling anyway, I’m happiest when in an airport knowing that I am going somewhere new. But there is just something about being in an airport that makes me productive.

Why I Like Working in Airports

Zone out

When I worked in a previous job in tourism in New Zealand, there was a running joke that people would pack everything on holiday but leave their brain at home. After seeing many tourists around the world, I kind of have to agree.

The airports are the worst place for this as sometimes people forget all manners and decorum. But for me, I find I’m the opposite. Once I have done the thinking part of checking in and getting through security, I like to zone out.

I’m in my own little world where I don’t have anything to think about for the next couple of hours until I have to board. I know where my gate is and where to go and then I can relax.

Hot desk, Skanderberg VIP Lounge, Tirana Airport, Albania
Coworking/ hot desk area

Limited time

Unfortunately (for me anyway), you only have a limited amount of time in airports. Even if you get to the airport when check in opens, which is normally three hours before a flight, by the time you have gone through security and you have to board your flight, you may have a maximum of two hours. If you like cutting things close to the bone, it may be less than one.

But for me, I enjoy the fact that I have that limited time and can just focus. In a normal 8 hour work day, how much time are you actually spending working compared to making small talk, doomscrolling or otherwise being distracted by the coffee machine.

With the two hours I have before I know I need to leave, my focus is sharp and I can get on with what I need to do and just power through.

Makes the time go quicker

It’s great for making the time you may otherwise waste in airports, by looking at duty free for things you’ll never buy, or walking around aimlessly waiting for your gate to show, to then be a bit more productive.

Looking up at a departure board every 3 minutes to see if your gate has appeared so that you can then sit on another chair that is slightly closer to your plane can make the airport experience drag on. When I know I have a set amount of time to work, the time flies by!

Lounge, KLIA, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Airports always have plenty of seating to pass the time

Airport lounges help for this

I’ll be honest and say would I be so productive if I always flew budget airlines and had to sit in overcrowded terminals with a laptop balanced on a suitcase? Probably not. But I have done that as well.

I’m fortunate enough to be a frequent flyer so I regularly get access to airport lounges. For those that have never been, they are places of calm and mild luxury in an airport where I don’t mind leaving my bag unattended whilst I go to the toilet, or leave my laptop on the side whilst I grab another coffee.

The ample food and drink options close by also make it easier to focus as I can load up and then work.

Some airport lounges around the world also come with a dedicated area that is designed for working with comfy chairs, sockets for chargers and a private desk area.

Sushi and work area, Platinum & Gold Lounge, Doha

Plan ahead

With all these points comes a caveat that I have been doing this for some time now and I know how to plan my day and get the most out of working from airports.

I know how early I can arrive, when check in opens, what the airport is like, whether I have lounge access and if I do, can I work in the lounge.

And I always have a back up plan. If the bus to the airport breaks down, can I get a taxi? If the lounge isn’t open, can I still use airport wifi and work elsewhere?

I also know when I have meetings and can plan my day around that. I won’t take zoom calls in an airport for the sake of others, but if I have some work to do that only involves writing (such as this blog post!), I will save that for those few hours when I can get my head down and focus before the flight.

Why I love working in airports and why digital nomads should too!

For me, working in airports is a lifesaver that saves me time, allows me to focus and get some quality work done before I may be without wifi for a few hours.

For digital nomads that may be travelling whilst having a remote job, working in an airport may be a great option for them to complete work before a deadline or to start some work without the distractions of working elsewhere in the city they’ve been in.

Have you ever worked in an airport and what are your thoughts on it?

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