It can be the ripple effect of a storm or a part that needs to be replaced that they’re waiting to arrive on an incoming flight or some other situation that is completely out of your control. Whatever the reason, when you learn your flight is about to be delayed for many hours, that is not the time to think about how you’re going to weather the situation. You should plan ahead.
Here are a few tips for surviving those dreaded crazy long flight delays.
Be prepared before you leave home. I don’t mean you have to try to figure out how to fit a sleeping bag in your carry on, but if you plan to have a few items with you, you’ll be in better shape than most to ride out the wait.
For women, think about incorporating a blanket scarf into your wardrobe choices so that it’s already in your luggage and can serve as a true blanket if you have to bed down on the floor or create a makeshift bed at the gate. Some fuzzy socks will keep your feet warm and a toothbrush and toothpaste will help you feel mostly human and not offensive to others, should you have to spend the night in the terminal.
Now more than ever before, airlines are looking for new ways to accommodate their passengers’ needs and stay ahead of the competition by coming up with new ways to provide faster, more efficient service. One of the most recent airline trends we’ve begun hearing a lot about is the DIY/self-tag options for luggage, and Edinburgh Airport has recently become the first in the UK to offer such a service.
In an effort to provide a more efficient and stress-free experience for fliers, Edinburgh Airport’s new SONIC Common Use Bag Drop technology enables passengers to print their own luggage tag, weigh their bags and send them off to the appropriate location. So far, the program seems to be living up to expectations – in fact, according to some of the articles we’ve seen, the SONIC system has cut the baggage check-in process down to under 30 seconds. The system is being run by Flybe and easyJet airlines.
David Wilson, chief operating officer at Edinburgh Airport recently said in an article on FutureTravelExperience.com, “We are very excited to have introduced this ground-breaking technology to help improve our passengers’ experience when they travel with us. We know that time is of the essence when checking in and we want to make this process as quick and stress-free as possible.”
Flybe and easyJet aren’t the only UK-based airlines to hop on the DIY baggage trend. British Airways recently announced that they will begin testing on electronic bag tags in order to speed up both flight check-in and luggage drop-off times. If the Self-Tag program and other self-serve programs like it continue to be well-received, we anticipate that many other airlines will begin to roll out similar programs.
- Edinburgh Airport terminal set for major expansion (scotsman.com)
- Edinburgh airport sees millioneth passenger in month (scotsman.com)
- Lug it or leave it: Baggage drop goes DIY (cnn.com)
The words “delay” and “layover” are apt to cause even the most seasoned air traveler to feel just a bit stressed out. Thankfully, airports are starting to recognize that they’re in the business of customer service and that nowadays, savvy travelers are apt to select layover airports based on amenities and comfort.
If you happen to find yourself stuck in an airport on a layover or flight delay, don’t spend your time stressing – instead, why not enjoy yourself? Here are eight of our favorite ways to not just survive, but actually enjoy a layover.
1. Do some shopping
Whether you’re interested in picking up gifts, shopping duty free or checking out designer wares, many airports are now increasing their retail options, making them an excellent place to get some shopping done! Even better? Denver, Los Angeles and Vancouver airports are all planning outlet malls next to their airport terminals.
2. Airline lounges
Think you can’t gain access to an airline lounge simply because you’re flying coach? Think again! Many lounges now allow travelers to pay per visit, making them a great place to kick back and relax.
It may seem like an oxymoron, but many airports are actually great places to squeeze in some relaxation. Listen to music, read a book, or take advantage of the free WIFI many airports now offer and watch a movie online.
4. Pamper yourself
Having a hard time relaxing on your own? Pamper yourself! Many airports now offer barber shops, salons, spas and massage kiosks.
5. Catch up with friends and family
In this fast-paced world we live in, it can be hard to find the time to catch up with friends and family. Why not take advantage of the down time and do some catching up? If your cell phone battery is low, fear not – most airports are now offer charging stations.
6. Meet other travelers
Airports, bars and restaurants can be a great place to meet people of all walks of life! Who knows – you may end up meeting a future client or love interest!
7. Squeeze in a doctor’s visit
Yes, it’s true! Many airports now offer clinics that conduct routine physicals and inoculations. If you haven’t been to the doctor lately, there’s no time like the present.
8. Go sightseeing
If you’re stuck on a long delay, venture out of the airport and do some sightseeing! Most, if not all airports have kiosks that provide tourism information. If you do venture out, just be sure you’re back in time to get through security.
Photo credit: PeterGarnhum (Flickr, Creative Commons)
Is there anything worse than missing your flight?
For the business traveler, it means scrambling to reschedule both your flight and missed meeting. For the leisure traveler, it means spending part of your vacation cooling your heels in an airport awaiting your re-booked flight.
So, how do you make sure you’re on your plane in time for take-off?
Obviously, you should try to arrive at the terminal an hour to an hour and a half before your scheduled departure. In this age of increased airline security, you need to factor in the possibility of long checkpoint delays.
One way to identify these delays is to utilize a free app recently made available by the Transportation Security Administration. The MyTSA app for iPhone lets you see which airports are experiencing delays or search for conditions at a specific airport. It can be downloaded to your iPhone at the TSA website (click the previous link) or via iTunes.
Online options for determining boarding times include Googling the “check-in cutoff” for your specific airline, or accessing SeatGuru.com and selecting the “Check-In” tab for the airline you booked. And while you’re online, don’t forget to print your boarding passes. This allows you to avoid the front counter altogether.
If you’re traveling overseas, it’s critical that you arrive at the airport at least an hour and a half before take-off. Not only are you likely to have more luggage to check-in and pass through security, the boarding process is more time consuming due to passport verification.
Speaking of transporting luggage through the terminal, a great way to avoid airport delays is to carry on a Travelpro rollaboard, avoiding both the time and cost of checking bags.
Constructed of state-of-the-art materials, Travelpro’s bags, totes and duffels weigh less and are more compact than most of our competitors’ luggage. This enables you to pack more belongings without exceeding the airlines’ weight and size limits. Most airlines limit passengers to two carry-on bags, which cannot weight over 50 pounds or exceed 22″ in length.
Also, be sure not to underestimate your commute time to the airport, regardless of whether your using the roads or public transit.
Finally, if you do miss the check-in cutoff, be polite to airline personnel. Most gate agents do have the authority to board you after the deadline (especially if you’re a regular customer of that airline).
So, you do have options when you’re squeezed by the check-in cutoff time . But, your best option is always not to cut it so close.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has joined the iPhone revolution in an effort to provide travelers with the timely information they need to avoid airport delays.
The free app can be downloaded at the TSA website, and can also be found on iTunes. The advantages of the MyTSA Mobile Application are described as follows on the TSA’s website:
To provide passengers with 24/7 access to the most commonly requested TSA information on their mobile device, TSA has developed the MyTSA mobile application. No matter where you are, you’ll have easy access to information you need to get through security and onto the plane safely and smoothly.
Since travelers have a lot of the same questions, the MyTSA app gives it to them, so they can ask before they ever leave home, or even once they’re in the airport. Travelers can find out if they can take an item in a carry-on bag, or have to check it, they can find out the on-time status of their flight, and even say wait times at specific airports.
MyTSA has these tools:
- Airport Status: See what airports are experiencing delays (related to security, not flights), or check for conditions at certain airports.
- ‘Can I Bring?’: Travelers can see if the items they plan to bring are allowed or prohibited. They can see if allowed items can be carried on, or must be checked.
- Guide: Travel tips, including tips on traveling with children, packing, traveling with food and gifts, dressing for airport security, and rules on carrying liquids and gels.
- Security wait times: Travelers can post their wait time at a particular airport, and see what other passengers are reporting.
Lex Friedman of Macworld has used the app. He writes:
I generally fly out of Newark airport (EWR). At this writing, My TSA tells me that there are no security delays at that airport in any terminals. The app even indicates that the last significant delay was at terminal A/3, with 11 to 20 minute wait times, and ended several hours ago. You can, of course, look up this information for any U.S. airport. You can also submit the wait time you encounter at the airport, to help other users of the app. (Just make sure you stick your iPhone back in your carry-on before you reach the front of the security line.)
It’s refreshing to get something free and potentially useful from the federal government.
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