Delayed flights are an inevitable part of travel. As a frequent flyer, I know delays can happen at any time and for almost any reason, from inclement weather to flight crew issues. While flight delays are frustrating, they don’t have to ruin the trip.
How you handle the situation often determines your mood for the rest of the trip. Because flight delays happen often, I consider it my job to make the best of the situation, for me and other passengers.
I travel frequently, especially for business. When my flight is delayed, I like to use this time as an opportunity to meet people.
For instance, I once was at the Philadelphia airport when my flight to Germany was delayed. So, I decided to get something to eat. At the restaurant, I started chatting with the man next to me. As it turned out, he was an officer in the US Navy, as were the two other men sitting with him. They were on their way to Iraq to be part of a newly formed Riverine squadron that patrolled the rivers in Iraq, similar to how it was done during the Vietnam War.
As I talked with the men, I thought about their commitment, service, and sacrifice, and wondered what I could do for them. As a frequent traveler, I sometimes get space-available upgrade tickets from the airline we were traveling on. I happened to have four upgrade tickets at that time that were due to expire the next month. So, I gave each of three Navy officers an upgrade ticket. We were all fortunate enough to fly over to Germany in business class.
The three thanked me very much and continued on their trip. To my surprise, the wife of the senior officer sent me a note a couple of months later with some memorabilia from her husband’s squadron, including this picture!
Because I’m an avid traveler, I’ve learned to expect these delays. However, not everyone has learned this patience. Whenever I’m delayed, I try to use the time to pay a kindness forward. I know from experience that one unhappy passenger can make the entire flight unpleasant for everyone around him.
My flight-delay suggestions? Spread some cheer, especially when it’s least expected. Offer someone a seat upgrade if you have one. Buy someone a drink and share a conversation. Invite someone to get a bite to eat and pay for their meal. See a fellow passenger with a book by one of your favorite writers? That’s a perfect introduction to a good conversation.
How can you pay it forward and change the outlook of a disgruntled traveler? What do you do to stay calm and collected when you experience travel delays? Share your tips!