Once you’re at the airport and face a long flight delay there’s no need to feel powerless.
First defense – be prepared. Bring along what you may need to keep productive. That means traveling with a laptop for many and they’re getting smaller, easier on the shoulders when lifting heavy carry-ons. Be sure to carry your chargers and a selection of reading materials. An ebook reader stocked with your favorite publications is a god-send. Write out note cards and post cards. Bring Sudoku or a book of crossword puzzles.
Be gentle with your companions. Don’t take the delay out on your loved ones or travel partners. I’ve sat in several boarding lounges, close to strangers and witnessed arguments and cruel debates between couples. Many of us have seen parents taking out their frustration on their children, who are out of their element and need to keep mobile. Keep breathing deeply, take a break from your group, if you need to and calm down. It doesn’t matter who’s responsible for the delay ultimately. If you look for ways to make the “down-time” work for everyone, you can become a hero and rescue a vacation or business trip.
Always carry a few hearty snacks in your carry-on. Getting hungry or thirsty can lead to frayed nerves, so check in to see what your body needs while avoiding endless snacking out of emotional duress. There are many restaurants and cafes in most major airports but in the case of long delays, your favorite items may be gone. Healthy snacks are becoming more common but are also expensive or picked over. I recommend carrying a small baggie full of nuts and dates; perhaps another with sliced carrots and celery. They travel well when squashed underneath your other must-haves. Be sure to stay hydrated – that means avoiding alcohol and drinking water, not just a succession of syrupy lattes.
Get up and walk, at least stretch every hour or so. Many airports are initiating walking courses. I once led a group of Fiji-bound divers around a circuit in the LAX International concourse while delayed several hours. The exercise will help you relax, get your blood moving and warm up muscles that will then be better prepared for hours of sitting. Avoid back pain from sitting and practice some Flytime Yoga techniques.
Look for chapels or non-denominational prayer centers. They’re perfect for a quick snooze or a calming meditation.
Explore: Airports are constantly changing displays, vendors and restaurants. Check out a new area or concourse.
If you’re facing a delay of more than 4 daylight hours, ask at airport information to see if there’s a local bus or subway to get you out of the airport for a few hours. The change of scenery will lift your spirits. Just be sure to keep an eye on the time and allow for getting through security.
There are dozens of ways to master your flight delay. What do you do during long delays to keep your spirits lifted and feel empowered?