Using Flight Delays to Your Advantage

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How to pass time at the airport when your flight is delayed

You’re at the airport, sitting at the gate-side lounge. It’s nearly boarding time, but you notice that the airplane isn't yet docked at the gate. Just as you begin to wonder where it might be, a voice over the loudspeaker announces that your flight has been delayed, that the problems will be resolved within the hour, and that the airline apologizes for the inconvenience.

"Delay notifications are always posted to advise passengers on the status of the delay, while announcements usually are made every thirty minutes, until boarding approval is received from the flight crew"


Every seasoned traveler has gone through this scenario at least once and probably more than a few times. Flight delays have become an accepted part of the air travel experience – the norm rather than the exception. And as many of us know from firsthand experience, delays often beget further delays.

For many fliers, being delayed at the airport is a cause for stress and even anger. However, you can avoid all this annoyance and try to approach your delay time in a positive way instead.

Airport flight status board

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#1 Catch up on your work or your reading

A flight delay will only stress you out if you allow it to do so. If you look upon a delay as an opportunity, you may find it easier to handle. If you have a laptop with you, try catching up on some work. If you have no work (or don’t have a computer) a book will serve you just as well. MP3 player, iPod and portable gaming devices also make for great time-wasters while waiting for a flight.


Enjoy the opportunity to tour the airport!


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#2 Get something to eat

Airport terminals are full of restaurants and bars, and for good reason – they do great business, especially when flights are delayed. If you’re feeling peckish, join the crowd and get something to eat. This is an option you won’t have once you board your flight. It may be a good idea to take advantage of it while still in the airport, especially if it seems likely that you’ll also have to sit on the tarmac, before departure. Travelers with weak stomachs might want to avoid heavy meals, though. Salads or basic sandwiches work best as pre-flight meals.

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#3 Get to know your fellow travelers

If you’re the social type, why not take the opportunity to talk to the other passengers? Find out where they’re coming from and where they’re going. The airport, by its very nature, is a great place to meet people from around the world. By socially engaging other travelers, you may be able to relieve both you and other passengers from boredom or stress.

#4 Play a word game

The method only really works if you’re traveling with a companion. If you are, try playing a word game. Twenty Questions is a classic word game that is tailor-made to occupy long stretches of downtime. The last letter/first letter match game, in which you have to match the first letter of your word with the last letter of your opponent’s word (usually sticking to a particular theme) is also a popular choice. These sorts of games are not only mentally stimulating, but useful ways to pass idle time.


"There are some things in life which we have no control over, cancellations & flight delays are one of those things!"

Packing a laptop or book in your carry-on may come in handy during delays.
Packing a laptop or book in your carry-on may come in handy during delays. | Source

#5 Realize that there’s nothing you can do to affect the situation, eventually, you'll reach your destination

Business travelers who are running late for an important meeting or a similarly major event, stressing out over a flight delay is an understandable reaction. If you urgently have to be at your destination city, relax, and keep in mind that complaining will not speed along your trip. Losing your temper and screaming at the flight agents will only cause you more stress. The airline staff are just as frustrated as the passengers – flight delays mean that they get to stay at work later than usual. They’re doing their best to fix whatever problems might be causing the delay. If you are missing an important business meeting, let someone know you’re stuck at the airport. It's as simple as making a phone call or sending a text.

Flight delays are ubiquitous, so the best way to deal with them is to simply accept that they will happen and to use them to your advantage. And who knows? If your attitude is positive enough, you might even look forward to your next flight delay!

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Comments 16 comments

ComfortB profile image

ComfortB 4 years ago from Bonaire, GA, USA

These are very great ideas mentioned here. Practicable. should help melt away the frustrations that comes with flight delays and cancellations.

Voted up and useful.


Jangaplanet profile image

Jangaplanet 4 years ago Author

Hi ComfortB, thanks. As someone who often travels, I've become accustomed to the usual inconveniences, especially flight delays, cancellations, mishandled luggage and overcrowded planes! We got to make the best out of it. :)


penlady profile image

penlady 4 years ago from Sacramento, CA

I like these tips. It's like they're needed now more than ever because flight delays seems to occur more. Voted up and useful.


Jangaplanet profile image

Jangaplanet 4 years ago Author

Hi penlady. Thank you, I appreciate it. Flight delays and cancellations seem to be inevitable, but when they do happen, I'll sometimes take the extra time to get some exercise by walking from terminal to terminal or have a drink and relax at the lounge. :)


CrisSp profile image

CrisSp 4 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

That's a very positive attitude to handle things that are inevitable for us. I like your number 5--there's nothing we can do on the situation and hence, yelling on the GSA's won't help. Thank you for emphasizing that they're as frustrated as the passengers because truly, a delay means extended working hours for them that is not so favorable either ways. So, as you said, relax...read, have a cup of coffee.

Great tips, good write. Very useful and will be sharing.


Jangaplanet profile image

Jangaplanet 4 years ago Author

Hi, CrisSp . Thanks! How many times I've heard the announcement “ Your flight xxx has been delayed and will be departing… at an indefinite time..." But I've become accustomed to them...I almost expect them each time I travel. Yelling, getting upset won't really help anyone. There are so many ways to cope with flight delays! I for one like to walk around (What a great way to exercise!) Thank you for stopping by and sharing, much appreciated. :)


Louisa Rogers profile image

Louisa Rogers 3 years ago from Eureka, California and Guanajuato, Mexico

I assume delays and then am pleasantly surprised when flights leave on time! I also rummage around and find newspapers from all over the world to read. Thanks, enjoyed this.


Jangaplanet profile image

Jangaplanet 3 years ago Author

Hi Louisa Rogers, you are most welcome and thanks for dropping in, much appreciated. I've become accustomed to flight delays! :) But.. there many things to explore around airports! A collection of national and international newspapers, that can become a great hobby for most travellers! :)


freecampingaussie profile image

freecampingaussie 3 years ago from Southern Spain

Hi ! I enjoyed your hub as we will be doing a lot of flying soon ! I always have something to do so I don't get bored . We always leave plenty of time so a late flight won't cause us stress ,I am amazed at people who have flights booked that has them on such a tight schedule that they are late for a wedding/funeral/meeting if the plane is delayed a while .


Jangaplanet profile image

Jangaplanet 3 years ago Author

Thank you, freecampingaussie. I agree, there is always something to do! I think flight delays will always be a common plague when it comes to airline travel. It stresses out mostly those who count on on-time arrivals for business, family or urgent meetings. For Leisure, it's less stressful. Thanks for stopping by, much appreciated. :)


Escobana profile image

Escobana 3 years ago from Valencia

Hey Jangaplanet and gorgeous writer:-)

While having some trips planned this year to see some more of this beautiful world we live in, I noticed your Hub. Very good one!

I especially like the idea of getting to know the people you travel with. The whole idea of having your flight delayed never really stressed me out. It's part of travelling by airplane and I am fortunate to not have had many delays.

From the moment I take the taxi to the airport, my travel mood starts and you can't get the grin of my face. Next week I'll be seeing Paris for a long week-end.

Last time I went was in 2005. Would be nice to have my flight delayed if I found you to be there at the gate:-) I'm sure I would take up on your advice and socialize with a beautiful Italian.

Do you have any trips planned for this year?

Up, interesting and shared of course!


Natashalh profile image

Natashalh 3 years ago from Hawaii

I think number five is the best. I had a flight delay last year that had me pretty upset for a while, but then I realized it was pointless. So many people were yelling at the poor folks behind the counter, but they couldn't make the plane arrive on time. It delayed me a day going to see my man and I only had a couple of days to visit him before he went out to sea, but I made it their eventually and all was well in the end. Getting your blood pressure up about a flight delay doesn't do anything good at all.


Jangaplanet profile image

Jangaplanet 3 years ago Author

Hi Escobana! Thank you! You know, the chances of seeing me in some airport are very high considering I tend to attract many many flight delays!! Most of my friends think I'm weird but I enjoy delays in airports! And most airports today really look like miniature cities, and just like a city if you look hard enough you’re bound to find something to do or talk with someone interesting! IT’S ANOTHER FLIGHT delay! in fact, most of the time.. I've been presented with an opportunity to meet interesting people! Right now I do not have any trips planned, but Paris sounds great! :) Lucky you!


Escobana profile image

Escobana 3 years ago from Valencia

Have some spare time maybe next weekend? We could meet at Charles de Gaulle (immense airport), then stroll down the Seine, and have a glass of wine at Quartier Latin?

Only need to buy a ticket because the rest is all for free....naturally:-)

My ticket only cost 135 euro...I'm guessing yours would be a little more expensive:-(


Jangaplanet profile image

Jangaplanet 3 years ago Author

Yes I'm free next weekend! :) ( how I wish I had some spare time). Charles De Gaulle, Just looked it up, it is immense! wow! it covers an area of 32 km. Your offer is tempting! My flight ticket there is around 900,00$ :)


Jangaplanet profile image

Jangaplanet 3 years ago Author

Hi Natashalh, We've all been there at least once, and the more we travel, the more we are bound to run into an occasional delay and sometimes a complete cancellation as well. But why stress out! I think that the calmer we stay, the better off our entire air travel experience will be! Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your experience, I appreciate it. :)

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