Ways to Make the Most of Travel Delays

We have all been there – you arrive at the airport early, make it through the TSA lines rapidly and get the best seat at your gate…..only to have your flight delayed. Now what? Well, as long as you aren’t due somewhere in a timebound way, you can make the most of your delay! If you are due somewhere, now is the time to kick things into high gear and come up with your plan B, but that is another post for another time.

Rather than get vexed about the delay, you choose to view this as found free time. Remember that getting upset about something outside your control is as useful as a screen door on a submarine. So, what can you do? Here are my favorite ideas to make a delay a bit more enjoyable. Keep in mind, while these are geared towards air travel, they can apply to train travel, as well.

During a delay you can:

  • Catch up on emails – Use this time to read your emails, reply, and file them. If you are a winner at Inbox Zero, consider creating a folder structure. If you are working on business email, you may want to categorize by sender, client, project, etc. For personal email, consider filing by topic, like bills, home/house, children, pets, etc. Find what works for you and make it something you can commit to using.
  • Write your own thoughts – This is a perfect time to jot down ideas for a project, write in your journal, or maybe even create blog content. Even if all you do is write down your observations of those around you, you may be surprised at the creative spark it uncovers. Consider a journal like this or this to store your thoughts.
  • Walk the airport (art, exhibits, displays, stores) – So many airports have undergone massive renovations over the past 15 years or so and now have cultural displays and stores that focus on the local area. Some of the best include Hamad International, Qatar; Ben Gurion, Israel and a few of my personal favorites:
  • Eat a leisurely meal – If you have the time, consider eating an actual meal, not the usual banana and potato chip airport meal! Lots of airports actually have some really good restaurants, a few are even worthy of a Michelin mention. Some of my favorites are:

What not to do:

  • Don’t get sucked into the abyss of your phone – Why? Use this unexpected free time as YOUR time to do what you want to do. Soak up the world outside your phone/tablet/laptop. People watch, explore, and spend time with yourself. You’ll thank me, I promise.
  • Don’t shop with abandon – Airports have really stepped up their shopping game. Combine that with Duty Free and time to waste and it may be overwhelming temptation to spend money. Enjoy window shopping and buy those souvenirs for friends/family but don’t go overboard. If you see something you really want/need consider it for a few days and then, purchase on your return trip through the airport.
  • Don’t sleep on the floors – A, It’s icky and 2, you likely don’t need to, IF you can get into the airport lounge. Most lounges offer amenties like snacks, beverages, WiFi, and some even offer recliners, showers, and lockers. There are some easy ways to get access, even when you don’t have a ‘club class’ ticket. If you have a credit card that earns you air miles, it may come with a pass or the option to get one. You can also check out a 3rd party provider like Priority Pass. For an annual membership fee, you can get access to clubs all over the world.
  • Don’t miss your flight – When your flight is delayed things can change minute by minute so the best way to keep abreast of those changes is to download your airlines app. Once you are logged in you’ll get alerted to any changes in your flight. Delays are tricky and if an airline has an unexpected early opportunity to make up the time, they will take it so you have to pay attention.

There you go! Try these tips the next time you find yourself subject to a flight delay. What did I forget? How do you survive a flight delay? Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks for stopping by!