Eight Hour Layover at the Philadelphia International Airport

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So my family and I are traveling to Germany this summer and already I have plenty to blog about. I won’t even get started about buying a brand-new iPhone so I can have the best camera only to forget it in the seats of my in-laws car. I’ll save that for another time…


Originally we had bought American Airlines tickets that left Houston at a very reasonable 12 o’clock in the afternoon with an hour and a half layover in Philadelphia. Lucky us our flight was rescheduled to leave at 6 AM! Living with a nervous flyer I already knew how early we would be heading to the airport…

Lesson one: get there as early as they want you to so you don’t have to feel rushed when you get there.


So what do you do at an airport for eight hours? If you like my family you weigh the options for the first hour. 

Where should we eat? 

Considering there are six terminals with more than 170 restaurants and shops there’s plenty to look up, Google, read reviews. For that length of time you might also start to wonder:

Should we leave the airport? 

Of course in my mind the answer is yes but for a nervous flyer that compose additional concerns. 

What will we do with the luggage? Will we have enough time to get there and back? If I stay here with the luggage will my family get back in time?

So then you start googling what are the travel options?

can we take an Uber? Or come to the airport? What about the train situation with that be easier? How far away are these places? And what places we go to?

I won’t keep you in suspense any longer before letting you know that we did go get a Philly cheese steak at Geno’s Steak. Right across the street from Pat.


Lesson number two: if I had it to do over I would’ve gotten one Philly cheesesteak from Pat’s and one from Gino’s. And if you want to be like the locals you gotta order the sandwich the right way quickly.

Cheesesteak equals “one”.

+ “provolone” or “American” or “Whiz”

+ “With” friend onions 

For example: one provolone with is the same as ordering a Philly cheese steak with provolone cheese and grilled onions.

You’re welcome — cash only.

The trip to the steak stand Will take about 30 minutes there and 30 minutes back. In the middle of the day in the middle of the week traffic wasn’t bad but I’m not a local and I don’t know. 

The actual ordering and eating of the cheesesteak is about 20 minutes depending on the line. We got there when there was no line and got a cheesesteak in about a minute. Then you go to the next window and order your soda and the crispest fries you’ll ever eat. We got with cheese. 


We had a wonderful tour guide/Uber driver on the way back to the airport who played relaxing spa music on the radio and regaled us with tourist sites including the Naval shipyard, stadiums for the professional basketball, hockey, football, and baseball, and many other interesting facts about the city including the weather.


Now you arrive back at the airport and it’s about 1:30 PM. And so you think well for once it won’t be so bad for a long TSA line. 


Except you’ll find there is no line. Which is beautiful and I will note note that as we left earlier there was no line either in a different terminal.

As an American Express card holder you might think joyfully “hey I’ll go to the American airlines lounge and kill some time there in the lap of luxury”. But then you’ll realize you didn’t fly business or first and American Airlines no longer allows American Express. And after paying for the unexpected Philly cheesesteak excursion you don’t want to pay more money to get into the club.

Did you see that there’s a place called the minute suites? Feeling tired after waking up at four? Well for $40 an hour you can check in and have use of a desk and a bed.

Do you like art?

The Philadelphia international Airport has an exhibition program that is nationally recognized as an award-winning since it’s found in a 1998 there had been more than 300 exhibits from artists and cultural Institute throughout the greater Philadelphia area. On the day that we were here in terminal A and while walking on the walking escalator we noticed these beautiful birds hanging from the ceiling. The little 2 inch birds were hanging to create the shape of the original bird for example an albatross. And also made up the bigger bird shadow. You could seabird after bird delicately flying above the check in counters.


Now it’s about 2:30 PM. Your family is starting to droop so you said it’s a good time to charge all of the electronics, the ones you still have in your possession anyways.

Around 2:50 PM you realize your phone is charged about 4% in 20 minutes. With three more hours to go in your layover you decide you can do an informal power test. There are over 900 complementary charging outlets across all of the terminals. You realize some might be better than others. Where little nooks that used to house payphones that people actually use their power outlets. You might think it’s comfortable and private but find a wall outlet or one in the charging tables in the hallway much better performance. (No formal measurements used in this test.)

About an hour into charging and there’s no way you’re going to get your family to move. With battery at a healthy 65% and battery saver mode turned on you pack on the gear with the goal of exploring the remaining terminals. B through F. 

One thought on “Eight Hour Layover at the Philadelphia International Airport

  1. Travel is not for the faint of heart, especially these days!!! Wishing you a wonderful visit in good ol’ Deutschland!!! I still miss it and always will. Happy Trails to you three and wonderful memories.
    Hugs to you three! Barb

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