You’ve done everything by the book…
Your toiletries are in a “TSA approved” clear bag. You neatly packed all your items into a carry-on – complete with a laptop accessible compartment. And you even arrived extra early for your flight.
… All this, only to find out your flight is delayed and you’re stranded at the airport.
And now, realizing you are all but powerless, you find yourself continuing to frantically check the flight updates to see just how much the airlines are disrupting your travel plans. Again.
It’s almost as if the airlines enjoy seeing you squirm – promising the flight will board in the next hour, only to keep delaying (if not canceling it) altogether.
And your left trying to navigate uncomfortable seat benches and choose between an overpriced sandwich with some resemblance of meat – or a salad with brown lettuce and a sprinkling of some veggies.
To make it even more miserable, you’re most likely stranded with hundreds if not thousands of other irritated travelers, all scrambling to talk to the one customer service rep the airlines picked to handle flight changes.
But before you completely lose it, check out our ultimate airport survival guide that will help you make the most of your flight delay.
Plan On Being Stranded
These days, every time you plan to arrive at your destination on time – just expect to be delayed.
Hey listen, we aren’t negative folks. We like to look on the bright side of life too.
But we’ve traveled a lot, and we know airlines are highly unreliable.
It doesn’t surprise us when our flight is delayed…
… on the contrary – we’re actually amazed if our flight actually boards on time without a hitch!
So you see, by expecting to get stuck at the airport – you can prepare ahead of time and hopefully be somewhat less miserable.
Bring your own healthy snacks – nuts and protein bars. Make sure you have your music list ready to go on your phone or a few audio books downloaded.
Noise cancelation earphones are a nice touch, and if you have work to do, a charged laptop can help pass the time.
Hopefully you remembered to pack a neck pillow and foldable blanket to keep you (somewhat) comfortable while you wait.
And as you select your spot to camp out and relax for the next few hours, pick one by an outlet!
There’s nothing worse than being stuck at a crowded airport AND having a dead cell phone.
If you’ve got space in your bag, you might want to bring a battery pack for your phone.
Have A Plan B
Don’t expect the airlines to have your back and research alternate flights.
Some airlines will automatically rebook you to the next available flight. Others will cancel your flight and expect you to do the work and figure out how to get where you are going.
Depending on if you have status with an airline (or amazing travel benefits via a travel credit card) – you might want to consider booking an alternate flight ahead of time – just in case chaos occurs and your flight gets canceled.
However, only choose this option if you’re able to cancel your flight at the last minute without a fee.
Another option is to map out a few other routes via different airlines – in case you need to make a quick switch.
Doing a bit of research ahead of time will put you in a better position to pull the trigger when your flight gets delayed or canceled – and while other travelers are doing their research at the airport to find the next flight out, you’ll be one step ahead ready to book your Plan B flight.
Ladies – chances are being stranded in an overcrowded airport with angry travelers and incompetent airline staff has made you stressed out.
If your airport offers spa services, you may want to consider killing time and getting some relief!
From full body massages to manicures and pedicures, airports all over the country are taking advantage of women who’ve got time to kill.
Sure… the spas are definitely pricey – but there really is no price on personal peace!
Even a 15-minute shoulder rub might help relax the tension in your neck and head…
…especially if you’ve been cramped in an airport chair for 3 hours trying to get comfortable.
We’re not a fan of overpriced airport food (which is mostly grossly unhealthy) – but a drink of your choice might help take the edge off.
Whether it’s a strong cup of coffee to give you an extra boost of caffeine to get you through or a glass of wine to relax, give yourself permission to fork over the cash for a drink. Or maybe two. Hey, we don’t judge!
And while you’re at it – make sure you stay hydrated and drink a lot of water. The last thing you want while you’re stuck at the airport is a massive headache because your body is dehydrated!
Final Bonus Tips
A final word of advice – be selective when choosing your airline.
Delta is the least unionized of the major airlines, so you have a better chance of your flight being somewhat on time.
If you happen to have a travel credit card that provides perks like airport lounges – well, now is definitely the time to use that perk.
You’ll be much more comfortable relaxing in a less crowded space and hopefully can enjoy some of the perks like free food and drink – and enhanced privacy.
And some truly brave travelers choose to leave the airport and go sightsee, or book a night at a hotel.
Depending on how long your delay is (some crowded travel seasons could be more than 24 hours) – this could be an option.
But then you’re left arguing with customer service reps to get reimbursed and it might be more trouble than its worth.
It might be safer just to tough it out at the airport.
And last but not least, hopefully you’ve read our airport tips and know better than to check a bag!
Being delayed and having to switch flights at the last minute is already stressful enough – if you’re trying to track down checked bags, you’re bound to be pushed over the edge once you learn your luggage is lost.
By having only a carry-on bag, you can quickly move through the airport – and take comfort knowing you’ll have everything you need should you have to make a quick jet to a different airline or gate!
Have you ever been stranded at an airport?
What are some ways you managed to kill the time and survive?
Tell us your thoughts in the comments below and be sure to share this article with all your friends!