An Airport Delay Survival Guide
In my time as a traveler, I’ve had a few really bad experiences with flight delays. One particular instance that comes to mind was a flight from Chicago to Los Angeles that was scheduled to leave at 6am on the dot. After getting up at 2:30am to pack last minute and get to the airport on time, I barely made it through security and to the gate by 5:30am, which was supposed to be my boarding time.
Surprise! As I approached the gate, I saw the departure screen flicker and heard the beginning of the announcement all airline passengers hate to hear: A delay. This flight was supposedly delayed one hour, and we were all advised to remain in the vicinity of the gate in the event that the delay could be shortened and we could leave earlier than expected.
This ambiguity put me in a sort of limbo – in such an enormous, busy airport as Chicago O’Hare, did I dare risk leaving my gate area? Ultimately, I decided the answer was no. The challenge then became how to keep my sanity and wits about me while playing the waiting game at my gate. The day only kept getting worse, as our departure time was pushed back again and again, an hour at a time.
If you’ve ever been in a situation like this, you surely understand how infuriating and unpleasant flight delays can be. The struggle against boredom, stress, and frustration is exhausting, and any travel is already a huge drain on your mental energy even when everything goes right. Luckily, I’m here to share a few helpful tips and tricks you can use to stay busy when you’re stuck at your gate in a flight delay.
#1. Watch Netflix
When you need to get your mind off an exasperating situation or just alleviate boredom, there’s nothing like watching a movie to pass the time in an entertaining way. Streaming sites like Netflix are perfect for travelers, because with a subscription you can log in to your account and watch anything you want on your computer, smartphone, or tablet.
“But I’m delayed in an airport in a country that doesn’t even get Netflix!” you say. Well, check out securethoughts for instructions on how you can watch Netflix anywhere in the world. You’ll be settled in at the gate with your favorite flicks in no time.
#2. Be Productive (Or Creative)
Most business professionals who travel for work have met with a flight delay (often while en route to an important business function, unfortunately). While your meeting might have to be postponed until tomorrow morning, there’s no reason why you can’t use the airport downtime to catch up on the work you’ve been putting off. Fire up the computer or tablet and make the most of your time by working productively.
If you’re a leisure traveler and don’t have any number crunching or busywork to get through, this still applies to you! Delays can be a great time for casual blogging, writing a new journal entry, or brainstorming new creative endeavors. Break out the notebook, sketchpad, knitting, whatever works for you – just get working on something.
Meditation isn’t just for yogis and new-age enthusiasts. Numerous studies have scientifically proven that even just a few minutes of conscious relaxation and deliberate mental realignment can do wonders for relieving deep stress and clearing “brain clutter”. If you’ve got time on your hands and you’re feeling stressed, why not give it a try?
Find a nearby area that’s as quiet as is feasible. Sit comfortably on a chair or the floor, close your eyes, and try to let your thoughts, worries, and stresses go. You can try concentrating on a color, a good thought, a prayer, or an image. If none of those are appealing to you, a good technique to try is to breathe in for seven counts and out for eleven counts, which activates stress management centers in the brain.
#4. Talk To People
Why not help your fellow travelers pass the time in a friendly way with you? Try striking up a conversation with someone in your vicinity. Talk about your travels, your jobs, your families, or try to find things that you have in common.
You never know what a stranger might have to tell you, or what you could learn. But remember: Please don’t invade their space if they don’t want to talk back!
#5. Get Some Sleep
If you’ve exhausted your options for killing time in an entertaining way, this might be a good time to catch up on that sleep you probably missed at some point in your travels. Sleep deprivation takes a heavy toll on the body and brain – lowered immunity, increased mental fatigue, physical ache, and emotional fragility can all result from getting too little sleep, so seize the opportunity and grab an hour if you can.
Airport seats are notoriously uncomfortable for napping, so I’d recommend skipping that effort entirely. If you’re lucky, an occasional gate may contain a row of seats without armrests, but this isn’t exactly common. Otherwise, find a space on the floor that’s courteously out-of-the-way, lie back, and see if you can find your way into dreamland.
Remember to keep your personal items close to you, and link an arm or leg through a strap if possible. And it’s probably advisable to set an alarm – you don’t want to sleep through your flight departure!
You’ll Get There, Eventually
The most important thing to remember with any flight delay is that it isn’t forever. You will reach your destination (late), and you will carry on with your travels (although perhaps slightly more stressfully). Don’t let the frustration fry all your circuits, and do your best to pass the time in a pleasant way. Hopefully, these tips will help you survive your delay with ease. Good luck!