"" Writer's Wanderings: Help! I'm Stuck in the Airport!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Help! I'm Stuck in the Airport!

A few days ago a friend asked me what we do if we get stuck in an airport because of a delayed and/or canceled flight. She and her sister had been stuck in Denver for nine hours and said they hadn't fared well. I'm guessing that high altitude probably didn't help (smile). Fortunately for us, we are retired. Therefore we don't have the pressure to be back to go to work in the morning but here are some ways you might try to pass the time.

Check to be sure there's no other earlier flight available.
This works best with domestic flights but not always. The airline is the one who will decide whether your delay is substantial and whether they can put you on another flight. If your delay is weather related, you will probably have to wait it out. Remember in any situation, honey is always preferred to vinegar so keep your attitude in check as much as possible when dealing with the airline representatives.

On flights out of the country you may be at an even bigger disadvantage. On our way to Ireland a couple of years ago, there was a major hurricane that moved up the coast and caused our flight to be canceled. The frustrating part was that Bob's brother and his wife were able to fly out of Columbus to New York and on to Ireland while we were stuck trying to get out of Akron/Canton just an hour or so later. We ended up having to spend two nights at home before we could get a flight out because of the flights being full. The upside of that (honey-coated approach) was that we were upgraded to first class.

See if you can barter or buy time in an airport lounge or a hotel attached to the airport.

We have a card that gets us into the airport lounges for many of the airlines we travel on. For as much travel as we do, it's worth the extra we pay for it. But there are some airport lounges that will allow you to buy time there and, though I've never tried it, you might ask if they could get you a pass to a lounge for your delay if it's more than a couple of hours.

Airport lounges offer a TV lounge area, some light refreshment, a bar if you are in need, comfortable chairs, and other great amenities depending upon the size of the airport and the airline. They will also announce when your next flight is due to board.

Some airports have hotels attached to the airport or just a minute walk away. If you are sure you're going to be there for a length of time, perhaps getting a room might help. We've done that on occasion when we've had a long time between flights. On our way to Tahiti, we stayed at a nearby hotel in Los Angeles for the twelve hours or so layover that turned into another overnight when our flight was canceled. On the up side, we took time to see Universal Studios.

Become an explorer.

Airports usually have lots of restaurants, snack bars and shops to explore. If you are there when it looks like places are closing up, be sure to grab some snacks and drinks. By the way, even those airport lounges will close around 10 p.m. I posted not too long ago about unusual things to see at some airports. You might even find a massage, a mani/pedi, or some live entertainment. Just be sure that you keep an eye on the status of your flight.

If you must sleep. . .

There are not going to be any comfortable places to stretch out unless it's a major air traffic problem and they roll out cots for passengers. The chairs in the waiting areas are made so that people can't stretch out across them although I've seen some pretty funny attempts. Best spot is, yes yuck, the floor. Be sure to lay your head on your backpack or suitcase and wind an arm through a purse handle. Tuck phones, readers, etc. away in your carry-on. If you can sleep sitting up (Bob can sleep in any position), then be sure to tuck your carry-on between your legs or wrap a strap around your arm. You don't want it "walking off" to a new home.

Relax and enjoy a good book.

Hopefully you have one tucked in your carry-on. Always keep your chargers with you in case you do get stuck like this and you need to charge your electronics. There are usually plenty of places to plug in. While it's often easier said than done, take a deep breath and relax. As Annie always sings, "The sun will come out tomorrow." Who knows you may just make a new friend, find great inspiration in a book, or finally finish all those levels on Candy Crush.

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