For many travelers, airport delays are akin to going for a leisurely swim in a swirling vortex of scorching lava. People will go to extreme lengths to get on any airplane when their flight is delayed, wasting a lot of time and energy for very little return. It doesn’t have to be this way. Today’s airport is a modern metroplex, combining all the features of shopping mall, food court, museum, and classroom.
I spoke with my friend C.C. Chapman, an intrepid traveler who has spent the last several years hopping around the globe speaking at events and promoting books. C.C. has a tried and true view about surviving airport delays. Here’s what he had to say.
Part Time Vagabond (PTV): When you find that your flight has been delayed, what is the first thing that goes through your mind?
C.C. Chapman (CC): It always sucks when you first find this out. The level of suck depends on if I’m trying to make a connection on the other side, if I have someplace to be or if I’m on my way home. All of them make the news hard, but the key is to remember that there isn’t anything you can do about it and try to deal with it as best you can.
PTV: What is the first action you take?
CC: I usually go back to whatever I was doing and try to take it all in stride. If it is going to be a big delay and I’m going to miss a connection I check to see what the next flight is since I’m assuming I’m going to be put on that. Since I’m almost always traveling for some kind of business, not getting where I’m going on time has repercussions so I have to plan for those as quickly as possible.
PTV: How do you prepare yourself for the inevitability of a layover or flight delay, before you even get to the airport?
CC: I always make sure I have my iPad full of content to keep me busy. My Kindle app is always full of a variety of books and I almost always have a couple of movies and several episodes of whatever television series I’m currently watching. This allows me to pass the time no matter what happens. Also, make sure your batteries are always fully charged. You can’t always find a free plug and trust me that you’ll always be happier with charged batteries.
PTV: If you were to put together a Flight Delay Airport Survival Kit, what would be in it?
CC: Good headphones, iPad, comfy shoes so you can walk around the airport instead of sitting, water and a favorite airport snack (mine are swedish fish).
PTV: Aside from gadgetry you carry with you, what else do you do to entertain yourself on long delays?
CC: I love to people watch and an airport is a great place to do it. The variety of outfits and attitudes is sometimes startling, but it never gets old for me. Sometimes I’ll just kick back and watch the insanity of human nature unfold. I also never go anywhere without a small notebook. It allows me to brainstorm ideas or doodle no matter where I am.
PTV: Your flight gets delayed for 36 hours. No emergency is demanding that you get to your destination immediately. What do you do?
CC: Wow, do flights really get delayed that long [ed. note: apparently, they do]? I guess it depends on where I am, but I’d certainly get out of the airport if I could and explorer the city I’m in. I have no problem just hitting the street and seeing where it takes me and the great thing about the world we live in is with a simple tweet I could easily find plenty of things to do and people to meet no matter what corner of the globe I’m in.
PTV: What other tips and tricks can you provide for the stranded traveler?
Stay calm and be nice to people. No one likes to be stranded and it sucks for all of us, so being a jerk is not going to help anyone. It is NEVER the fault of the person behind the counter that you are stuck, so don’t take it out on them. Be courteous and it can go a long, long way to making the situation better for everyone.