Preparing for delays

No matter how much or how little you travel, flight delays are inevitable. Of course, the more you travel the more you are impacted. I always thought that the worst delays were in the winter due to snow, but a flight attendant friend told me they are worse in the summer. The combination of sudden lighting storms and holiday travelers is a recipe for severe delays. While there’s not a lot you can do to avoid them, there are several ways to prepare so that they are as bearable as possible. Best case scenario you are in an airport; worst case you are stuck on a plane when the delay hits. Either way, the following should help.

Power up. No matter how short your trip, bring your chargers!! On day trips I have often thought, I don’t need my phone charger—I’m gone less than a day. But when I’m delayed and have to use my phone or iPad to watch Netflix I am super glad to have that charger.  Also bring a mobile charger (and maybe a DC-USB charger). Try to have your devices charged before you get on the plane, but if you get stuck on the tarmac you have ways to charge.

A Jackery

A USB DC charger





Bring entertainment. An eReader is a great thing to have during a delay, with hundreds of books at your fingertips and the ability to buy more instantly. And may I just say (especially after my last few delays), thank goodness for Netflix! Being stuck in an airport (or sitting in an airplane on the tarmac, omg) is way more fun if you’re catching up on your favorite shows. I just finished Dance Academy and The West Wing, and now I’m binge-watching Continuum (it’s awesome, you should check it out). Of course if you have work you should probably finish that first. Unfortunately, my laptop is so old that my battery only lasts about 45 minutes. If there is no plug available I will usually get as much work done as possible before it dies and then enjoy some TV.

A Kindle Paperwhite







Snacks. I can’t say this enough—keep snacks in your bag at all times. You never know when you’ll be stuck on a plane that was scheduled to take off two hours ago. The last time that happened to me the flight was supposed to be only 45 minutes in the first place and there was no food to be had. My almonds or Kind bar may not be the most exciting thing, but when I’m hungry with no meal in sight I will eat them gladly.

A KIND bars






Wear layers. Planes are often freezing, and it’s very tempting to wear long sleeves and pants on travel days. However, when a plane is stuck on the ground I have found they typically turn down the air conditioner (or turn it off completely, ugh), and planes quickly get sweltering under those conditions. It’s easier to wear a dress and bring a pashmina and cardigan to wear when it’s cold, instead of trying to stay cool in long sleeves and pants.

A Pashmina






Be comfortable. I always like to have my glasses with me, even for day trips. That way if I get stuck in the airport I can take out my contacts and be more comfortable. For day trips I will take a few small toiletry items with me for the same reason—face wipes, moisturizer, and a disposable toothbrush.

A Yes Face wipes

A colgate wisp





Have patience. Delays suck, there’s no doubt about it. Unfortunately for frequent travelers there is no way to avoid them. Take a deep breath, watch a TV show, drink a glass of wine, and remember you will be home soon!

Readers, how do you prepare for delays? Anything specific you keep in your bag just in case you’re stuck at the airport or on a plane?


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  1. Above all… scream like hell over Social Media that your flight is late. It’s 2014! no excuses!

  2. I always bring snacks but before boarding I stop for a banana/apple and a cookie just in case I need reinforcements on the plane. I bring a regular paper book (no power needed) and a few magazines to share as a delay annoys me but my seatmate staring ahead and constantly looking around is worse – I’ve given many magazines away this way.

  3. I am a student pilot who also flies commercial regularly for business and pleasure. Delays used to exasperate me. However, learning to fly a plane and knowing the conditions in which you do NOT fly (thunderstorms can tear small planes apart), and the reasons for the regs, has made me more patient of delays. I do not fight with bad weather. I also take snacks, reading material, etc, but above all cultivate patience.

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