How well do you navigate travel delays? If you travel, you will experience delays.
Here are the seven best tips I have discovered for navigating those pesky delays when they occur:
1. Be prepared – Preparedness is a Core Value at Creation Technologies and it certainly pertains well to travel. I always carry a good book in my briefcase plus more on my Kindle, charge my device batteries the night before and take a snack and green tea.
2. Expect the unexpected – Line-ups, computer’s going down, mechanical challenges … if something could go wrong, it will. Adopt a positive mindset and be prepared to go with the flow.
3. Redefine success and create diversions – By taking control of the situation as best you’re able, you will feel better. Take advantage of the “new opportunity” and catch up on reading and emails or strike up a conversation with a fellow-traveller who looks stressed and try to lighten-up the situation while sharing a smile. Success is no longer arriving on time and now may be enjoying the journey, helping others, catching up or doing whatever helps you feel like you are in charge of your time.
4. Allow buffer time and arrive at the airport early – It helps to have buffer time to navigate delays. I confess, I seldom arrive at the airport early as I just can’t bring myself to do it. If I was to arrive an extra 30 minutes early for my ~80 flights a year, it would consume a whopping 40 hours of my life annually. Further, I seldom check baggage as I just don’t want to spend more time waiting for luggage or losing it.
5. Fly early in the day – Booking a flight that leaves early will help to avoid cascading delays that may occur later.
6. Stay calm and polite – A calm and polite passenger is considerably more likely to receive assistance from a travel company team member than someone who is stark-raving mad! Keep calm and carry on.
7. Have fun – Yes, I said Have Fun! This may seem impossible but can be done if you have the right attitude.
While I don’t always follow these tips, a few Wednesdays ago I encountered a significant delay and they really paid off. What could have been a miserable day turned out rather well.
Tuesday night, there was a spectacular electrical storm in Lexington, Kentucky. I rather enjoyed it as lightning and thunder has fascinated me since I was a child. The storm continued throughout the night and awoke me several times. Given that it was predicted to pass through the Mid-West on Wednesday, I wondered how my flights would go.
Wednesday morning, I arrived at the Lexington airport and just before boarding discovered my flight to Chicago (on route to Denver) was delayed due to weather. I fly a lot and while Chicago is a convenient hub in good weather, over the years I have experienced more flight delays there than at all other airports combined.
Departing Lexington four hours late, I missed my connection in Chicago and was rescheduled on a later flight to Denver. As the storm re-surged, my rescheduled 4:05 pm flight was delayed numerous times. Eventually, I left Chicago around 10:30 pm landing in Denver just before midnight. When boarding the flight, the gate agent who was clearly not having a great day, gave me a small grin in response to my smile.
After waiting on-board for a ground crew in Denver (they were busy with other late-arriving flights), I picked up my rental car. At the rental-car check-out, the young man noted that it was after midnight and I was running rather late. He asked how I was doing and when I told him that I was “doing great” he laughed and gave me a big smile!
I drove to my hotel in Golden, Colorado (the drive took almost an hour given the fresh snow and ice) and was in bed a little before 2:00 am. I enjoyed a solid 4.5 hours of sleep before a productive day in the Denver area.
Andy, a member of our team, was originally going to meet me at the Denver airport and as we were texting and chatting throughout the day he kept reminding me to keep smiling. Andy also travels considerably and knows the tips!
It took 18 hours to travel from my hotel in Lexington to my hotel in Colorado and according to MapQuest, I could have driven it in 17 hours. As eventful and unpredictable as Wednesday was, it was actually a good day. I wasn’t stressed out, was productive and accomplished my newly-defined goals.
I have learned the hard way that stuff like this happens and determined early Wednesday that I was, as my colleague Pat says, going to “make it a great day.” I decided to smile at everyone and cheer up people along the way. My plan was to get caught up on emails and do some reading. Success was redefined as being happy, cheering up others and ending the day smiling no matter what time I finally made it to Colorado.
Have you experienced travel delays? Do you have any helpful tips?