Travel Basics 101: Getting Through Flight Delays

For the most part, airplane travel is pretty straightforward. You buy your ticket, show up at the airport, get on the plane and arrive at your destination. Unfortunately, sometimes things aren’t straightforward and there are delays.

Delays can happen for a variety of reasons, many times it’s due to bad weather. How long will a delay last and when they will occur, are questions for the divine. I’ve personally had delays as short as 20 minutes, and a delay as long as 6 hours when I was trying to get from Shenzhen to Nanjing. What does one do when they are stranded in an airport? These are a few tips so you always have options in case you get stuck.

  1. Offline Apps. Whether on your cell phone, tablet, or laptop, make sure you download at least one game, ebook, podcast, or movie that you can use without mobile data or service. Why? So that you can access them regardless of whether or not you have data, Wifi, or service.
  2. Physical Books. Somewhere in your baggage pack a book, one or two magazines, and/or a puzzle book such a crossword puzzle or sudoku book. Phones, laptops, and tablets all have a limit on their battery life. Also, what happens if you accidentally check your charger or you forget your adapter? I highly recommend packing at least one physical book because sometimes technology just doesn’t work.
  3. Bring Work. Now now, I know. You’re going on vacation to the Bahamas. Why on earth would you want to do any work? That’s the thing. You don’t want to do work. Doing work is only an option in the event that your flight is delayed. This very blog piece was written in Toronto’s Pearson Airport during my 3-hour delay. I brought my writing notebook in case I got delayed and could use the time to do some writing. If you’re stuck in an airport with limited options, why not finish your sales presentation or send some emails. Additionally, “work” can mean a lot of things. “Work” can mean tasks from your actual job, but it can also mean working on a hobby. A 2-hour delay in an airport is a pretty good time to finish knitting a scarf.
  4. Eat/Shop. Arguably the most expensive option to kill time, if you’re stuck in an airport considered grabbing a bite to eat or shopping. Eat slow and/or shop slow to kill as much time as needed.
  5. Explore the Airport. This option works particularly well if you happen to be delayed in a large airport, ie. Dallas Fort Worth Airport and you have lots of time to kill. Exploring an airport may be difficult if you are carrying a lot of baggage or if you have children, but if you can do it, take a leisurely stroll through multiple terminals.

These tips are a collection of what has helped me pass my time during delays. If you have cellular data and service you’ll have several more options including, scrolling through Facebook aimlessly, calling your mom, and watching YouTube or Netflix. Whether you have service or not, this list provides a few options for passing time during flight delays. You know you best and may be able to think of several things more helpful to you. The important part is to think about something to do BEFORE you get stranded at the airport. Be smart, save your sanity, and plan ahead.

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