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How well do you navigate travel delays?  If you travel, you will experience delays.

2013 05 28 7 Best Tips for Navigating Travel Delays Image

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?

12 Comments to 7 Best Tips for Navigating Travel Delays

  1. Arun Mathur's Gravatar Arun Mathur
    May 28, 2013 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    8th Tip:

    Close your eyes, meditate and connect with God. This always works for me.

  2. May 28, 2013 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Hi Arthur,
    Good tips and like the positive approach behind all of them. Endorse fully! I’d also add that since my luggage has a mind of its own, and frequently travels to locations without me….I always wear travel clothes that I could work/train in if needed. I also throw in spare undies into my purse. When I miss sleep because of travel delays, I make a point to not share any “poor me” stories with others because they’ll drag me down in spite of myself! When travelling with my husband, I throw one outfit into his suitcase just in case. Early to airports is key and I call it dedicated email/internet research time. Thanks!! Cheryl

  3. Brendon Mar's Gravatar Brendon Mar
    May 28, 2013 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Thanks Arthur for the generous tips. Ever since I was young we would always go to the airport early and leave for the early flight. Now I know why, not only to arrive earlier and spend time before going to bed (check out the hotel or going to the mall before) at the destination but also to beat the delays. I will apply all these 7 tips next time I will travel. After reading your post sure made me smile! Keep it up, always something very delightful to read!

  4. Khalid Mahmood's Gravatar Khalid Mahmood
    May 28, 2013 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Nice tips. Most of these are also good for planning road trips or even I would say are very useful for day to day activities and planning.
    Thanks for sharing good points. I love it.
    Take care & be smiling

  5. Muhammad Zahid's Gravatar Muhammad Zahid
    May 28, 2013 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    That is a good piece. I enjoyed it. Personally travelling helps you take a fresher approach to an issue we face whether as a software engineer or a CEO like you. And furthermore flying up in the sky and looking at clouds makes the connection with God rather smooth.

  6. Jul 28, 2014 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    Between Dallas and Houston just forget flying and drive.

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