Travel Hacks

10 Things To Do When Your Flight is Delayed

flight delayed

Few people like airports. Seats seem to designed to minimize comfort, it’s $12 for a bottle of water, and there’s stress everywhere.

Worst still, nobody ever smiles, even though at least half the people should be excited about leaving the shit hole they call home and going somewhere new.

So when your plane’s delayed, or there’s a ten-hour wait for an onward connection, you’ll probably turn into a grumpy babbling mess.

Hopefully, these 10 things to do when your plane is delayed should help keep a smile on your face.



Admit it, whenever your plane is delayed, the thing you’d like to do most is punching a flight attendant in the face. You’re stressed. So how dare they walk around with such perfect smiles? Tension levels rise higher when you don’t leave on time, and you’re not going to get through the next six hours unless you open the valve and relieve the pressure. There’s an easy way to start. Find a seat (yes, we know it’s uncomfortable), open the travel guide, and start reading the superlative loaded descriptions of the places you’re going to visit. If you’re flying home, then picture the destination by reliving funny moments made by friends and family.



Focusing on the destination without focusing on the situation will help calm the nerves. But you’re still tense. That air stewardess might get a slap rather than a punch. Open your diary or find a piece of scrap paper and start writing down the bucket list for your trip. Write down all the incredible experiences you’re going to have when you arrive.

The delay slowly becomes insignificant when you consider the adventure that’s about to come. If you’re flying home, then the bucket list can include all those things that you want to do but have been putting off for years. It’s a similarly effective antidote.

Waiting in queues is just going to make you more stressed…



Airlines can always make a plan. They work in partnership with other airlines and can change your route with the click of a button. Of course, they don’t want to do this because a) it costs them money and b) it takes up time (which also equals money). So they’re not going to help the customer that punches flight attendants in the face.

Find a gate or counter with staff from your airline, smile, smile some more, say how are you, and politely ask about alternative arrangements. Come up with a good rationale for the change; you’re going to miss your sister’s wedding, you’re missing a conference and will lose your job, it’s your honeymoon, etc. If they say no, continue to be polite and ask who else you can speak to. It’s surprising how often this works if you can stay calm and blag it.



Don’t join the masses, getting frustrated, and charging around.

If you’re stressed, you’re going to rush around. It is the least effective way of wasting time. Charging around the shops in a rage isn’t going to get you anywhere. However, now that you’re calm (see steps 1 and 2 ), it’s easier to go slow. Take small steps, spend double the time over simple tasks, and gradually the minutes roll into hours.



Time passes quickest when you’re asleep. The question is, how do you get comfortable? Despite all the incumbent tiredness, getting some shuteye in an airport is problematic. So try this. Different airlines tend to use various departure gates, and alternative parts of an airport will be throbbing dependent on the time of day. Your departure gate will be throbbing with passengers. But whole sections are going to be quiet. The easiest tactic is to scan the board for a long-distance flight that has just departed or on its final call (inter-continental flights work best). It’s going to be one of those at the top of the departures board. Head to the indicated gate, and all will be deserted. You’ve probably got 1 – 2 hours before the gate is being used again, even longer if it’s an airline flying long distances.

You’ve just got to find the right place…



Everything is expensive at airports. So let’s find a bit of value. Rather than buy bottled water or take away snacks, seek out the comfiest cafe and spend 20 minutes deciding on your order. As long as you’re a customer, you can enjoy the comfort. So order a coffee. Drink it very slowly. When the staff gives you funny looks, request a cookie. Spend ten minutes mopping up the crumbs. The more comfortable you are, the faster time is going to pass.



Most airports now provide free wifi. However, you often receive a minimal allowance and must pay to use anything more than 30 minutes or 50mb. Which sucks if you’re killing time. So be selective about what you do. Write your emails and Facebook messages offline before connecting. Ignore the Facebook feed and youtube and stick to websites that require limited data.



Most people cruise the duty-free shops and spray on a quick sample of expensive perfume. You can go one step further by pretending to be a serious buyer. Ask about the perfumes, and you’ll be treated to a 15-minute showcase of new smells. Some shops have beauty therapists who will provide a free makeover as a demonstration of their products. Take an interest in expensive whiskey, and the booze outlets will start providing tasters of what’s on offer. Of course, they’re expecting you to buy. So throughout it, present yourself as somebody who desperately wants to buy. Then see number 9…



It gets uncomfortable when you try and squirm out of paying, especially when you’ve nailed nine whiskeys or had a one-hour makeover. There’s an easy solution. Always pretend that you want to buy it. Go to the counter and take out your credit card. Hand over your credit card for extra believability. Then when the salesperson asks for your boarding pass, quickly rummage in your pockets and realize that somebody else has it (husband/wife works best). Buying anything in duty-free requires you to show your boarding pass. If you don’t have it, you can quickly escape and promise to be back in five. Embarrassment is avoided, you’ve been spoiled for free, and an hour has been wasted.

This doesn’t need to be you. You can be getting all the free stuff while you wait instead.



Airports are impersonal; hardly anyone talks to each other, especially when the plane is delayed. Most people will keep their head down at the airport, but openly make new friends once they reach the destination. Well, dumb ass, the people waiting around the departure gate are the same people you’re going to befriend once you arrive. There are so many easy conversation starters, and you’ve got a lot of common ground. Sitting in an airport bar on your own is lonely. Sitting with new friends in the same airport bar is just like being on vacation. And it kills lots of time.

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