How to Survive and Pass the Time On Surprisingly Long Flight Delays

It can be the ripple effect of a storm or a part that needs to be replaced that they’re waiting to arrive on an incoming flight or some other situation that is completely out of your control. Whatever the reason, when you learn your flight is about to be delayed for many hours, that is not the time to think about how you’re going to weather the situation. You should plan ahead.
Here are a few tips for surviving those dreaded crazy long flight delays.
The Oslo Lounge at Gardermoen Airport. You could spend a few hours in here.
Be prepared before you leave home. I don’t mean you have to try to figure out how to fit a sleeping bag in your carry on, but if you plan to have a few items with you, you’ll be in better shape than most to ride out the wait.
For women, think about incorporating a blanket scarf into your wardrobe choices so that it’s already in your luggage and can serve as a true blanket if you have to bed down on the floor or create a makeshift bed at the gate. Some fuzzy socks will keep your feet warm and a toothbrush and toothpaste will help you feel mostly human and not offensive to others, should you have to spend the night in the terminal.
Be sure all your content is downloaded and your devices are charged. You’re at the mercy of the gate agent’s information, but while you wait, you can catch up, or binge watch depending on how long it drags out, that show you’ve been wanting to see. You can burn through quite a few podcasts or read that book you had by your bedside, provided you think ahead and tuck it in your bag. If you didn’t do any of this, pick yourself up and go to the bookstore or newsstand in your terminal and purchase something you’ve been wanting to read. Think of it as a little gift to yourself, a way to make the best of a tough situation. Also, make sure you have a small extension cord that lets several people plug in at once. This is a great way to get access to a wall plug.
Consider travel insurance. Airlines aren’t liable for overnight lodging if there’s a weather-related delay, so know before you go what options you might have if you purchased your ticket with a rewards credit card. You might also look into travel insurance and what benefits that additional coverage might afford you in terms of a port in a storm.
If you know you’re going to have a really long delay, satisfy your hunger by checking out all the different restaurants that are available, even if they’re in another terminal. Don’t settle for fast food when there’s no reason for it — you’re not going anywhere anytime soon. Get a good solid meal at a sit-down restaurant. It’ll satiate you better than junk food, and you’ll think more clearly when your body has good fuel to work with.
We’re always in a hurry in airports so you may not have noticed that there are amenities there such as nail salons, massage chairs, and sleeping rooms you can book by the hour. You don’t have anything better to do, so why not splurge and relax?
Finally, for those of you fortunate folks who have status with a specific airline, take advantage of your carrier’s lounge. You will be kept up to date on your flight’s status, and you might even be able to rebook and get out on another flight. If you can’t, at least the food and drinks are complimentary. If you don’t have status, don’t cry — you’re not stuck in the gate area! American, Delta, and United all sell day passes, and the quiet and aforementioned amenities will really help you reduce your stress during what is always a challenging time.
Don’t let a flight delay ruin your entire trip, or even put you in a foul mood. Plan ahead, think outside the box, and you just might find the time spent more enjoyable than you thought it could be.
How do you deal with extra long flight delays and layovers? Share any hints and tricks with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.
Photo credit: Traveling Otter (/Flickr, Creative Commons)