I am sure everyone knows about the incident at the end of last week that strangled the Chicago airports. The meltdown continues but this time it hit closer to home for me as my son is in Chicago trying to return to Orlando. So what advice can this seasoned traveler pass along to her offspring?
— If you have elite status, call the elite line first. It will almost always be faster than standing in a long line at the airport.
— For all others, call the airline customer service while standing in the airport line (always have the airline’s customer service number saved in your phone). Talk to whichever you get to first.
— Have an alternate plan if your flight is canceled or even delayed. Review the airline’s alternate routes, especially flights to hubs where there is a better chance of picking up a connecting flight to your destination.
— Don’t necessarily dismiss other airlines. While carriers are not required to book you on competitors, sometimes they do this for efficiency. It will help if you know the flights for other airlines so you can be proactive here. Just be aware this is not always possible if all the carriers are trying to get everyone out at the same time.
— Size often matters. The smaller your traveling party, the easier it is to arrange other travel. If possible, consider splitting your party to smaller groups to make it easier for airlines to accommodate you.
— If you are really stuck for a while, find the airport chapel for some peace and quiet. They are rarely noisy or crowded. This can be a great place to de-stress from your travel woes.
— But the single best advice I can offer my son – or anyone else – is be patient. No one at the airport or working for the airlines wants you to be stuck there. Well okay, maybe some of the merchants are happy for your extended visit but others are working diligently behind the scenes to get you out as quickly as possible. Walk around the airport. Some offer nice artwork or other exhibits. Buy a book or a magazine, find a location to recharge your phone/tablet/laptop, maybe download a movie or some new music you wanted.
As one who has been delayed on dozens of flights over the years and even stuck at airports twice overnight, I appreciate the problems but it does not do any good to dwell on the negative. Make the best of it and don’t let this ruin your otherwise great memories.
p.s. You can read Jack Canfield’s, co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, Foreword in my book, Business Travel Success: How to Reduce Stress, Be More Productive and Travel with Confidence as he shares what a passenger did when a flight delay was announced. The Foreword is viewable on Amazon.