I think we can all agree that being stuck at the airport is one of the worst things in the world. There's nothing more frustrating than hearing that your flight has been delayed or cancelled altogether.
I, like many other airline travelers, have experienced my fair share of long layovers and delayed flights.
The worst situation was when my sister and I were flying back home from a vacation in Jamaica. We had a connecting flight through Atlanta and when we booked our airline reservation we made sure we had ample time to land, make it through customs and grab a quick dinner before boarding our next flight for the last leg of our trip. Unfortunately, Atlanta had been hit with severe thunderstorms and as a result the airport was completely shut down. The captain of our flight explained that we were going to hover over Jacksonville, Florida until he received word on the status of the storms.
After hovering for about an hour, we had to land in Orlando to get more fuel and swap out our flight crew. This added another hour on to our travel time. My sister and I were frantically calling the airline we were on to see if they would bump us to the last flight heading home out of ATL. Luckily, the airline was able to accommodate us and we felt relieved as the plane took off and finally started heading to Atlanta after the storms had cleared and the airport had re-opened.
I guess the joke was on us, because when we landed we had just a sliver of time to catch our next flight. We sprinted through customs, breezed through security and hopped on the tram to make it to the terminal that our next flight was leaving out of. We ran so fast only to arrive to our gate to be told that the flight had just pulled back from the gate. WHAT?! My jaw literally hit the floor.
They didn't hold the plane. We were beyond furious. Frustration had set in not only for us, but for everyone else who was stranded in Atlanta. We were put on the first flight out in the morning, which meant that we had to spend the night at the airport. Ugh.
If I learned anything from this experience, it's that you have to make the best of every situation. Sure, we were dying to get home and I had a sunburn, but complaining wasn't going to get us home any faster.
So, next time you're at the airport and you receive an update telling you that your flight has been delayed or cancelled, I suggest you kill time any (or all) of the following ways:
You can find people from all walks of life at the airport and understandably so since people are traveling to all different places. Airports are one of the best places to people watch because of this. You can even turn it into a game and make up someone's life story. Just don't get caught staring at someone for too long. That's creepy and pretty embarrassing.
Browse around in the shops
Uhm, duh. This is a given. Who doesn't like looking at all the souvenirs in the airport gift shops? Half the fun is looking for a key chain with your name on it or finding the ugliest graphic T-shirt with the state's name slapped across the front of it. Personally, I like to flip through all the magazines that I find interesting or read the back cover of books to see if there are any that I think I might like for future reading.
Watching planes take off and land
Again, another given, but if you're going to be stuck at an airport, there's only so much scenery. Find the best place to watch the planes take off and land. You could even count them if you want.
Grab a bite to eat
Fingers crossed that the terminal you're in has decent food options. If you're going to be stuck at the airport, you should at least have a full belly. Pull a chair up to the bar, order some drinks and treat yourself to a nice meal. It won't help you to leave anytime sooner, but you might feel a little better about the situation after a margarita or two! Cheers!
Claim a spot at a sink in the bathroom and touch up your makeup
Hey, you've got time to kill. Might as well turn some heads as you board your flight (whenever that happens). Set up shop and put on a fresh coat of mascara or blot your face to remove any excess oil. You'll feel fresh and ready to take on the world (well, the airport in this case) when you walk out of the restroom.
Read a book, listen to music or watch a TV show/movie on your mobile device
If you have books, music or movies with you, you can pass a ton of time through entertainment alone. Find a comfy seat in the terminal and cozy up with a good page turner. Or, pop in your headphones and let the music help you drift away to your happy place. If the airport has free WiFi (most do), you can watch TV shows through apps or major television networks. If you're an Amazon Prime member, you can watch movies or TV shows through the Amazon Prime Video app.
Strike up a conversation with a fellow traveler
If you like meeting new people, an airport is a great place to make new friends. Ask someone sitting near you where they're headed or where they're from. Who knows, your conversation could turn into a 20 minute talk or even an hour long discussion. Misery loves company, right? You and all the others on your flight are all in the same boat, so you at least have a delayed/cancelled flight in common.
Walk from one end of the terminal to the other
Think about it, whenever you board your plane, you're going to be sitting for a while. Might as well stretch your legs and get some exercise while you can. Seriously. No one likes an aisle walker. Start your Fitbit and get your steps in! Moving walks don't count, so stay off 'em!
Ride the tram (if the airport has one)
Weeeeee! Remember when you were a kid and going on the tram at the airport was so exciting? Relive those memories and take a ride for old times' sake. You can even sit toward the front and pretend you're the conductor. Ah, all the nostalgic feels.
Take a nap
Sometimes, you have no other choice but to catch some Z's at the airport. Yes, the airport floor is gross, but would you rather sleep when you're exhausted or pull an all nighter and feel like a zombie the next day? Just make sure that your luggage is nearby and no one will tamper with it while you're getting some shut eye.
Have you ever had a long flight delay that left you stranded at the airport? If so, how did you kill time before you boarded your flight? Tell me in the comments below!