What to Do When Your Flight Is Delayed

by Jeanne
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Delayed United Airlines Plane Flight Travel

Learning that your flight is delayed is no fun (read: Top 10 Airports With The Most Delays in the United States). Unfortunately, it’s become a regular part of modern travel. You can wish your hardest it won’t ever happen, but chances are that it will. 

If you end up delayed at an airport, you might begin to feel overcome with emotion. In addition to travel anxiety, you might feel angry, frustrated, or even scared depending on the situation. Rather than sit and stress yourself out, take action. Here are some things you can do if your flight is delayed.

Talk to Your Airline

As soon as a delay is announced, get in touch with your airline. Yes, it could end up being a short delay, but it’s better to get the ball rolling in case it lasts longer than expected. This is especially important if you’re trying to catch a connecting flight. 

One option is to stand in line and talk to customer service face-to-face. Sometimes this works, but it’s usually time-consuming and the agents may be distracted by other anxious passengers and unable to provide the help you need. Another choice is to look at rebooking options on the airline’s app or by calling their customer service phone number. 

We’ve found, however, that Twitter can be a great resource for resolving flight issues quickly. Send your airline a DM as soon as you’re delayed. In our experience, this has often been the fastest way to get your trip back on track. 

Let People Know

When a delay is announced, it’s a good idea to let friends, family, and other relevant people know what’s going on. Anything can happen — your phone could die, WiFi could go out, etc… — so it’s best to make contact right away. 

Of course, as things change, keep everyone updated on what’s happening. Sometimes, the people who aren’t traveling with you can be a big help. My daughter and I were boarding a delayed flight to Japan and we had no way of working on things after taking off. Our family members took over and we got caught up when we landed. 

Check Your Insurance Policy

Some travel insurance policies include coverage for travel delays. When buying travel insurance, be sure to scan the certificate (usually, there’s a link if you’re buying online – if not, buy travel insurance here!) for what the policy covers — and what it doesn’t. 

Typically, if you have coverage for delays, there are terms and conditions. It’s unlikely that you’ll be compensated for a 30-minute delay, for example, but a several hour delay might be covered. Also, if you plan on filing a claim, be sure to keep all of the receipts for items you purchase while you are delayed. This includes food, lodging, toiletries, and even clothing. 

Grab a Bite and Stay Hydrated

Yes, airport food is expensive, but it’s important to keep your belly full when traveling. The last thing you want is to be delayed for hours and then suddenly have to board a flight on an empty stomach. Plus, if you’re prone to getting hangry, eating a little something can help keep your emotions in check. 

At the same time, you want to make sure you are drinking enough. The dry air in airplanes and staleness of an airport can take a toll on your body. Keeping your fluids replenished can do wonders for your mood and your general sense of well-being. 

Go For a Stroll

Our home airport right now is Boise. It might be the largest in Idaho, but there isn’t a lot to see. Yet, when one of our flights was delayed, I swear we inspected every nook and cranny. We even discovered a little eatery that is often overlooked which has the best prices on tea and biscuits in the whole place. Now, that’s the only place we go for pre-flight sustenance!

Walking around can be good for keeping your mind off the stress of being delayed. It can also keep the blood circulating in your legs which is important while traveling. Look in the shops. Read a magazine. People watch. Just do whatever you can to occupy your time, but be sure to keep an eye on your flight notifications for sudden changes!

Power Up Your Devices

Trying to get in touch with relatives and airlines during a travel delay can kill the battery on your phone. By the time you get ready to board, you might look down and discover that you don’t have much juice left in your devices. When you’re on a flight without power outlets, that can be problematic. 

Always look for charging stations or power outlets where you can recharge your device’s battery. Be courteous, though. Remove your phone or tablet as soon as it’s done charging so that other travelers can use those resources too.  

Get a Massage or Adjustment

Have you noticed those wellness centers in airports where you can get a massage or even a chiropractic adjustment? Yes, they tend to be overpriced, but if you’re traveling with anxiety and become even more stressed during a delay, it can be a life saver. 

For just a few minutes, focus on your body. Put your phone away, take some deep breaths and let the therapist work out the kink in your neck. It’s hard to do, but don’t think about the money — see it as an investment in your mental health. We all deserve a little TLC from time to time.

Tell us, how do you handle flight delays? They can be really frustrating, and with travel anxiety, it can be even more unbearable. When these situations arise, do your best to be proactive, keep your mind occupied, and your belly full. You’ll be at your destination in no time!

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