So more than once I have experienced flights being delayed…delayed due to weather, delayed to mechanical problems, delayed due to traffic congestion and even delayed due to out and out cancellation of the flight. Personally, nothing can be more frustrating and truthfully more stressful. A ten to fifteen minute delay, while frustrating is not the biggest of set backs. A two hour delay on the other hand can cause your whole schedule to be uprooted…completely.
Our trek back from New Hampshire was yet another on the list of many flights being delayed in my history of flying. Luckily for us, other than swapping our layover for an extended stay in the Manchester Airport, it didn’t really upset our plans. Ironically for me, the Dallas Fort worth International Airport seems to be my albatross. On three separate occasions I have been close to being stranded there. Once at 16 (my first solo flight), due to a delay in Atlanta, I missed my connection by 5 minutes. My rebooked flight was delayed by two hours only to be canceled and told that not everyone would be able to be accommodated on an alternative flight. Luckily I was but it was also delayed so it was starting to look like I would be spending a very long night there. While not as bad, I have also been there with a cancelled flight and given the line we can’t get you on a flight back to your city…do you want LA or San Diego? And there are several more interesting stories from DFW. Needless to say under all of these situations, I have been STRESSED! But after enough of them, I have also learned a few things.
1. Expect Delays. Okay so in a perfect world, flights take off, they land, and baggage arrives when and where they are supposed to and I would say that is probably the case most of the time. But the odds that you will have a delay happen at least once in your flying history are pretty good. So if you are traveling to, from or through areas that historically have delays, say the northeast during winter, try to plan your connections accordingly. It may mean for a long day of travel but hopefully uneventful. Give yourself a two or three hour window of layovers between flights if at all possible. Not only does this pad you for delays but, it also allows for you to go to the restroom, buy more affordable snacks and drinks if needed than what you get on a plane these days (Southwest being the only exception I know that still serves complimentary snacks), and to stretch your legs.
2. Don’t Panic When They Happen. So when your flight gets delayed, first breath. Look at how long they are saying your plane is going to be delayed and what the new arrival time to the destination is. Then check and see when your connecting flight takes off. If it is over an hour you should be fine. If it is under an hour, go to the counter.
3. Remember, It’s Not the Attendant’s Fault. Trust me she or he wishes your plane was on time too. When a flight is delayed or changes gates, that person’s work doubles or triples. That person did not cause the delay…they are not responsible for weather or malfunctions or air traffic congestion. I have seen so many people over the years act and treat the attendant like they were a personal punching bag. They get your frustration and they are there to help you as best as they can. You have heard the old phrase, you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
4. Ask Questions. As I said the counter agent is there to help you, so ask questions. Is this a hard delay time because the plane has taken off and is in the air or are you still waiting for a final confirmation of the actual delay time? Is it likely the gate will move or will the plane still be arriving here? It appears the delay is going to cause me to miss my connection, can we please put me onto another connecting flight? How will that’s effect my luggage? These questions and their answers will help get your travels back into check.
5. Hang Around Your Gate. Your gate attendant will be the one making the announcements related to your flight. You will want to be in earshot to hear what is going on.
6. Arrive at the Airport Based On Your Original Departure Time. I know this seems silly but even if you get a call that your plane is delayed, I highly, highly suggest getting there when your original departure time indicates. Things change, especially when delays occur and I have had a delayed plane actually take off right when it was expected to. Had I been late, I would have missed it.
With the busiest travel season approaching I wish all of you that will be traveling by air completely safe and uneventful flights.