5 Tips for Preparing for Travel Delays.
How Travel Misfortunes Helped Me Appreciate Traveling Even More.
During my semester abroad in London, our schedule was set up with two seven-week mini-semesters of classes and internships, separated with a weeklong fall break. I split my time between four days in Tuscany and then three days in Dublin, where I planned to visit friends studying abroad there.
The first days that I planned to spend there, went on as expected: going on the obvious tours, experiencing the nightlife and taking day trips. I liked my time there. I saw so much, experienced a lot, and definitely grew to really enjoy Dublin. My intended last day, allowed for more exploring that morning, so I could later catch a taxi to the airport in time for my flight.
By the time I arrived at the airport, I read the words “London Gatwick: DELAYED” in big, red letters; a trend that filled the board. I went to my gate, optimistic that it would eventually take off that day, and waited. Finally, at 9:30 p.m. we were able to board our newly arrived plane. As we boarded the plane, you could barely see the sky— the plane was surrounded by a thick, dense cloud of fog. In fact, tales spread of the last flight to London that left Dublin, arrived in London, but couldn’t land, so it flew back to Dublin, where it also couldn’t land, so it was diverted to Belfast. I hoped for better luck.
We sat on the plane for twenty minutes while the pilot kept announcing we were “in the queue,” and expected to take off at 3 a.m. Approximately five minutes later, the pilot was back to announce that the flight was cancelled, like most of the flights that night. We deplaned and I followed the long queue to Ryanair customer services, waiting for 30 minutes, while on the phone with my parents and my friend in Dublin, researching the next flights available and a hotel for the night. When I was about eighth in line, we learned the next Ryanair flight they could switch us to was TUESDAY AFTERNOON. Two more days? Definitely not planned.
I eventually found a morning flight on British Airways for the next day. I booked it and headed to the airport hotel. I soon learned that flight was also cancelled. I rebooked an afternoon flight— cancelled. And an evening flight— cancelled. So, I spent the entire day and two extra nights in that airport hotel. I definitely didn’t envision a two-day delay on what I had planned to be a fully scheduled three-day part of fall break. And while I enjoyed seeing all the city sights, that trip to Dublin and my numerous delays helped me learn more about myself as a traveler and what makes a trip meaningful to me.
That trip gave me so much more than any cheap souvenir ever could: it helped me appreciate the act of traveling and experiencing new places and cultures. So what, my flight was delayed and cancelled for two days– things happen; you can’t let one little travel misfortune affect your entire experience.
As I looked out the window from my hotel room, I could see what felt like the entire lush city of Dublin, and in that moment, I didn’t mind being stuck, because it led me to Ireland, and a truly magical experience in a beautiful city.
Finally, Tuesday morning, there was no news that flights were cancelled on Ryanair. I went to the airport that morning, was able to get on the flight leaving in less than an hour. I ran through the airport, found the gate (already boarding) and thanked my lucky stars the sky was clear and I was getting home as early as possible, albeit two days late. But, I wasn’t mad anymore, at all. That trip gave me a magical solo travel experience that taught me a lot about myself and seeing the wonderful Irish city of Dublin.
So, thank you Dublin for showing me I much I appreciate traveling, it’s a gift I never expected I’d bring back from Ireland.
5 Tips for Preparing for Travel Delays and Cancellations
1. Breathe. I know delays and cancellations when you have a packed schedule as soon as you land is not ideal, but just relax and know that these things happen regardless of how busy you are when you land. Wouldn’t you rather have a safe flight than leaving on time to poor conditions?
2. Be comfortable and stay calm as you wait. Pick up a book, magazine, computer or phone and find something to do to pass the time and keep you from being stressed out.
3.Let people know where you are: If part of your plan involves people picking you up from the airport (or if you gave someone your flight details), let them know immediately when your flight is rescheduled and then your anticipated arrival. And if you end up stuck somewhere, someone should know where you are whenever you’re traveling.
4. Charge your devices. Especially if you’re waiting all day or for a significant part of the day, you do not want your phone to die while you wait. You need to be able to reach people to update them on what’s going on, where you’ll be and when.
5. Stay Calm and Just deal with it. Don’t freak out and remember that these things happen and are out of your control, and safe conditions are worth the wait for any flights.