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How to Stop a Delay from Ruining Your Day

As a frequent flier I should know better than to make plans for right after I land, but last week I got ahead of myself and made that and other rookie mistakes I’d like to save you from. Even on the shortest or most routine flight, unexpected delays can arise, and here’s a few ways to keep your cool and get where you’re going no matter what mode of transportation.

  1. Plan ahead.
    Whether your flight’s in the middle of your work day or at the crack of dawn, it’s easy to be distracted by everything you’re trying to finish first and lose track of the trip you’re about to start. Knowing it’s an expected number of hours, you can under prepare for long-term setbacks. The key: don’t depart hungry or empty-handed–pack or plan to pick up food and bring something to occupy yourself whether work, reading or music. That way if you spend hours on the tarmac or at the gate with touch-and-go updates, you won’t starve or go crazy.

  2. Don’t be a diva.
    What makes delays even worse? People reacting to delays. Be conscious of the people around you and the crew by showing patience and courtesy. It doesn’t help anyone, including yourself, or speed anything up to complain. And continually badgering the staff won’t change the status of your trip. They’ll be much more likely to help with re-bookings or hotel stays if you’ve been cooperative. The key: the Golden Rule.

  3. Cushion your schedule.
    Every time I plan a dinner or outing directly upon arrival, I end up letting people down after arriving too late to follow through. Sometimes you can’t avoid this, but when you can, let the first few hours be designated for rest, exploration or family time depending on your destination. Most importantly, when you’re traveling for an event you absolutely can’t miss whether a wedding, funeral or work obligation, plan to arrive with plenty of time to spare. The key: try not to make promises and set expectations by saying when you’re expected to arrive, but that you’ll update along the way.

  4. Use benefit of the doubt.
    It can be really frustrating to not know what the hold up is. Between bad weather, medical emergencies, mechanical issues or crowded runways, oftentimes there’s little warning of a delay–and little control over it. The best way to prolong your own patience and deal with others’ impatience is to be reasonable. The key: remind yourself you’re safely on the ground and not falling out of the sky. That’s more important than arriving on time.

  5. Exploit the situation.
    I have had the best conversations and most entertaining rounds of drinks with other passengers during delays—from my flight attendant to a family returning from their reunion. Laughing with others in the same situation can relieve the stress and panic cancellations and hours of waiting create. The key: follow the first four steps and you’ll be at ease and approachable leaving room to meet new people. Even non-social butterfly’s will break the ice with their seatmate after two hours stalled on the runway.

How do you cope with delays–any ideas for hours in the airport or on the runway?


2 thoughts on “How to Stop a Delay from Ruining Your Day”

  1. Totally agree! Also- after being stranded in ATL overnight due to weather I learned (the hard way) that one should always, ALWAYS keep all toiletries, medications and rechargers in one’s carry-on luggage. One more thing, ask the gate agent to be brutally honest. If its likely you’re going to miss your connection you can spend your time getting your hotel arrangements/vouchers taken care of immediately whilst your fellow travelers are still trying to jam themselves onto the remaining already-overbooked-flights. Less stress, more sleep. Win-win.

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