When a flight delays…and delays.
This week’s misadventure is one I’m sure most of you can relate to…the dreaded flight delay.
It’s, unfortunately, not that uncommon of an occurrence these days. On the one hand, I get it- there are hundreds of things that need to line up perfectly for your plane to take off on time, it’s actually pretty miraculous we can even do this in the first place.
In fact, on the day of my recent flight delay out of JFK, I was only one of roughly 160,000 passengers that were flying into/out of there on one of 800 flights! That’s ONE DAY! Seems like a lot to keep track of. And so things go wrong, which brings us to the misadventure…
It’s about a bazillion degrees and 100% humidity out. Maybe I’m exaggerating, you decide.
Either way, it’s hot. And I’m sitting in a plane with temperate air blowing on me. (Can you call air temperate? It was just air is what I mean, not hot, but definitely not cool. Just air).
I’m exhausted, I’ve just had an awesome weekend with my sister in New York City and, like the city, we didn’t sleep. At least not much. After arriving Friday morning from a red-eye, I catch a quick nap and from there we are off to spend as much time together as possible. It’s amazing- we have lunch, eat sweet treats, see some sites, I try Milk Bar, we see Taylor Swift in concert, and catch up with some old friends. By the time I make it to my seat on the plane I’m ready to collapse.
And I do, for about an hour. I mean I conk out. Down for the count. I’m sleeping like a log. And a rock. And that’s all the she’s really fast asleep colloquialisms I know. Were they enough to make my point?
So it’s an hour later and I wake up and glance out the window, expecting to see an ethereal view of the clouds- and I see a gate. WAIT. Are we still on the ground?
(Bet that wasn’t really a surprise since this is a flight delay misadventure, huh?).
The girl next to me senses my confusion and explains that we are still sitting here, but that they haven’t come on over the speaker to explain anything. That doesn’t seem good.
I check the flight status online (guess airplane mode doesn’t apply if you are still sitting on the ground, right?). It says we departed…helpful.
I should mention at this point that people are calm. It’s quiet, no one is rustling. I’m expecting outrage. Pillaging. Crying. Phone calls. I mean this is a flight of New Yorkers after all. But nada.
And then they come over the speaker explaining that there is a delay. lol. Duh?
They say there is “weather in the area” and that there is a delay on the tarmac, but we are now good to go. There’s a feel of relief in the air.
So we buckle up and put our phones back on airplane mode and sit.
And sit some more. Until they tell us that we have taxied too long and don’t have enough fuel to make it to our destination. So now we have to go back to the gate to refuel.
So we do. We go back to refuel. We’re still feeling good. No big deal, just get some gas and on our way!
But in the meantime, more weather comes our way. And now all departures are on hold.
So we sit some more. And I mean more. We sit another 2 hours. One the plane. At the gate. Not moving, fully fueled, but sucking away at that fuel once again.
Now people are kinda ticked. They are calling to see about changing connections. They are asking flight attendants what their options are. Babies are starting to cry. And, oh ya, it’s still hot with temperate air blowing.
I should insert a side note here that it is in this moment that I am so glad:
- That I have a direct flight. That used to never be the case (cause I’m cheap), but man is that a lifesaver right now. And
- That I have started meditation. I’m zen. But seriously. None of this waiting, hot, crying, general stress bubble of a plane has me worked up. I just accept the situation and take some cookies (Biscoff, MY FAVE) from the flight attendant.
This goes on, literally, for a total of 5 hours. 5 HOURS!
And in all that time, you can’t leave the plane (unless you want to forfeit your seat they say) and there is no food except the cookie packs. I’ll admit, as zen as I was feeling about “what will happen will happen,” I was having food anxiety about not having enough snacks packed. (One of the many lessons of this misadventure- always pack more snacks).
But, it could be worse. The flight wasn’t cancelled. At roughly 10 pm, we finally depart. We make it safely. After just over 10 hours total on the plane.
So what’s the point of me telling you this misadventure? Well, really I just still needed to complain about it.
But I also thought this was something most of you could relate to and hoped I could help you make your next delayed experience less bad by sharing my lessons learned:
- Bring more snacks! Seriously. Just be prepared for anything. They never offered us anything (even to buy) besides the cookies on the flight, 10 hours is a long time to not eat- make sure you have enough to provide for yourself.
- Bring entertainment. I know lots of people who are like “it’s only 4 hours, I’ll be fine.” Maybe you will be, but what about 10 hours, will you be ok then? We were lucky to have movies on this flight, but you won’t always, make sure you bring a book, download the airline’s app, or have your own entertainment ready just in case!
- Meditate! This is a lesson learned in life. It just makes you a more content and better person. Don’t be the person who yells at the flight attendant, huffs and puffs in their chair, or feels that crying is the only way to react. Be a zen bubble in a stress tube.
- Don’t be surprised. Delays happen every day. There will always be weather. There will always be crews with too many hours. Planes will always need to be cleaned and restocked (and somehow take longer than expected). A delay may happen to you- try to plan ahead by packing the items above and leaving buffer time in a layover.
- If missing a connection, call the airline for help. If you do need to re-book a connection, don’t wait to speak to the gate agent or help desk in the airport- get on the phone. It will be much faster as they will have more representatives available. (You can always call when standing in line to see which is faster too).
- And if it really gets bad, look into getting a refund. There are laws and airline policies in place for refunding you in the case of a flight delay. It all depends on the reason for the delay and where you are flying from/to (the EU has more passenger friendly laws, for example). You can find out more about flight delay refunds in this article.
So what’s your worst delayed flight story? Slept on the airport floor? Got stranded in a location for days? Sat on a stinky flight next a crying baby for twice the amount of time? Share with us in the comments, we can all commiserate!