You look at your upcoming flight schedule and see a long delay between two connecting flights. You are used to getting off one flight, stopping at the first “flight schedule board” to find your next gate, then running to that gate, and getting there see the passengers already boarding the flight. If you had stopped to look around, you might have noticed that airports can really be quite attractive with lots of enticing shops, artwork by local students, and interesting architectural features. It is fun to try to distinguish the different construction cycles by the architectural changes, because it seems to be happening all of the time.
So think about this travel delay as a time to relax a bit. Grab something to eat or drink, listen to the music, watch other travelers running, and stop by the nearest restroom to brush your teeth. If you are traveling with others, gather in one area and just talk after you saunter to your next gate. Here’s how you can turn a disastrous delay into a mini-vacation-within-a-vacation.
How about that book that you have told everyone that you have every intention of reading, but can’t find the time? You now have time to make that phone call for the car rental at your final destination.
Plan your emergency strategy ahead of time
If it is one of the crowded holiday seasons, you can almost be assured that there might be a delay. Hopefully, you have had the forethought to purchase travel insurance. Does the coverage include delays other than weather-related? These are seldom covered.Let’s just agree to assume that a flight delay during holiday travel is inevitable. The only thing more stressful than a delay is Googling “what to do in the event of a travel delay” seconds after you find out your plane has been delayed. While it takes a little extra planning, getting your logistics sorted out ahead of time will let you start enjoying your surprise airport vacation sooner.
Consider travel insurance—since we’re assuming you’ll be delayed, it’s going to come in handy. Most airlines’ flight protection policies and conditions of carriage don’t cover weather-related delays, so check on the extent of your coverage from any rewards credit cards, or consider buying from a travel insurance company like Travel Guard. Just like that, you could while away your extra-long travel delay lounging in a hotel robe, enjoying room service, and watching a popular movie from two years ago—at no extra cost.
Even if you have travel insurance, your airport vacation won’t last forever, so you should stay on top of your itinerary changes. A delay can affect everything from car rentals to hotel reservations to tours you may have booked, so keep those contact numbers (or email addresses) handy so that you can alert rental and travel agents of your change of plans and rebook as soon as possible, if necessary.
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Finally, add key travel apps to your arsenal, like the all-in-one TripIt and TripIt Pro. These apps will help you navigate your terminal, send you updates and notifications on your flight, and some can even help you easily rebook your flight online so you don’t have to wait in line.
Maintain your zen Once they’ve announced that your flight has been delayed, don’t panic! If you find that you do need to relocate your center of calm, find the nearest yoga or meditation room. Often complete with mats, wood blocks, and sometimes even instructional videos, yoga rooms are popping up in airports all over the world. These days you can get your “ohm” on in San Francisco International, Chicago O’Hare, Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, and more. USA Today reports that we can expect to see an increasing number of airport yoga rooms in the coming years. Most are free to use, but a few are part of larger fitness facilities or lounges and may require a small fee (which, to us, is worth it).
Head for the lounges Even if you’re not a member of a rewards program or rewards credit card, the best thing you do when facing an indefinite delay is to buy a day pass to an airport lounge. Escape the fluorescent-lit and echoing halls of the terminals to be cocooned in the style and comfort of plush couches, curtained windows, Wi-Fi, and available electrical outlets. Depending on the airline and location, your closest lounge may offer free food and drinks or shower facilities, and all lounges come fully-equipped with peace and quiet. There’s never been a better time or place to dive into that bestselling book you’ve been meaning to start, accompanied by a glass of champagne, of course. Most lounge day passes start around $50.
(Don’t) Sweat it
Can’t shake that flight delay anxiety? Work it off in an airport gym. Airport gyms have long been popular with business travelers whose hectic schedules make it hard to fit in exercise, but gyms are lifesavers for weary, delayed travelers. AirportGyms.com will help you locate fitness lounges and centers in airports across the United States and Canada. For airports without fitness facilities, the site lists nearby gyms and the fastest way to get to them, which is usually a short taxi ride. Stretch your cramped legs and sweat out all that lethargy—just remember to pack your gym clothes and shoes in your carry-on!
Spring for the spa
If there is ever a perfect time to treat yourself to a massage and a manicure, this is it. We’re not just talking about massage chairs, either. Many major international airports and airport hotels around the world are home to top-quality spas that offer a full range of services, from quick-fix massages to longer, full-body treatments that target common travel complaints from dehydration to achy muscles. If you have the time, airport hotel spas offer a more comprehensive sanctuary experience, but if your plane may take off at any time, Be Relax and XpresSpa both have locations onsite in multiple terminals across the country. You’ll be so relaxed and rejuvenated, you might just “forget” to get on your flight.