When I started working full time, I started traveling more. My job entails a fair amount of travel out of town, not to mention the trips for fun I choose to take. With this increase in trips came something not so fun: an increase in experiencing flight problems. I can tell you countless stories of delays, close calls to the gate, and unfortunately flight cancellations from the last several years.
On my trip to New York in June I experienced one of the worst flight fiascoes in my life. My flight home was delayed by six plus hours due to weather back home, I witnessed flights to Chicago being cancelled left and right, and ultimately I made the choice to rebook my flight for the following day before my original flight ended up being cancelled a few hours later.
No one likes to alter their plans due to something like this; I’d had a nice relaxing evening planned out before going back to work the next day. This turned to a hurried evening then one wrought with a late arrival home and smaller sleep time before being ruled out completely.
We’ll call a spade a spade here; flight problems suck. When you are organized enough to book a flight at a specific time, and then it doesn’t take off/land when it’s supposed to? The nerve. Unfortunately in times like this it is what it is, and I’ve pulled together a few lessons to better approach situations such as these in life.
1. Some things are out of your control
When I planned my trip I booked flights to line up with how I wanted to bookend the trip; a not too early departure on a Thursday at 11 AM, and a flight that would get me home on a Monday in time to cook dinner and decompress before unpacking and preparing for work the next day. The cancellation of my flight meant two pretty crappy things: taking another day off of work and incurring a handful of unexpected expenses from additional time away from home.
Did this frustrate me? You bet. But after freaking out for a few minutes I took a deep breath and told myself this was out of my control. Unless I wanted to rent a car and drive through the night, I physically could not be in Chicago for work the next day. I emailed my boss (a perk of having your work email on your phone) to explain the situation. Then I let. It. Go. Why worry over something you cannot control?
2. Everything in life costs more than you think it will
As I mentioned above, I had a fair amount of unexpected expenses from this experience. There were extra food costs for my prolonged time in the airport and additional night out of town. The cab fares to get out of then back to the airport the following day. And the big one; the bill to stay in a hotel overnight.
Now I’ll stop here to say this wasn’t a must. I certainly could have roughed it and slept in the airport overnight. But here’s how it went down. My friend and I looked at each other and agreed to stay at the airport for another 18 hours would be pure hell. Maybe if the time frame was shorter, or we weren’t in one of the worst airports in America (seriously I hate you, LaGuardia). In a situation like this there’s being money savvy and then just being stupid for the sake of saving cash. Did I like paying an extra $200 on my trip (because of course the hotel options were not cheap)? Of course not. That completely blew. But thinking back I would still make the same decision to get out of the airport and have a quiet place to sleep before returning the next day.
I wish I had better advice for a situation like this. I’m not afraid to admit here that in my position, a financial pull like this one is something serious. I’m someone that tries to stick to a pretty tight budget, and I financially plan for bigger events like weddings and vacations. Really what it boils down to is-it is what it is. Praise be for savings, and you better believe I was cutting expenses for a few weeks after to recoup for the extra spending.
3. Plan ahead
Pack an extra book, or better yet, have a few options on your kindle. Put games like heads up and trivia crack on your phone (and always pack your charger in your carry on). On that note fly only with carry on whenever you can as it cuts down on costs, time spent at the airport once you reach your destination, and hassle if you end up changing flights. Trust me you don’t need all those shoes! Throw a few travel friendly snacks in your bag to cut out unhealthy airport meals. I love homemade trail mixes, Larabars, and bananas.
Some may call it jinxing the situation, but it’s a comfort to be prepared if your flight is delayed. If anything you’ll have a book to read down the road and some extra eats for later on in your day!
This wasn’t my first flight cancellation and unfortunately I feel that it won’t be my last. The flight I took a week after this one was delayed three and a half hours. I just read a terrifying story on another blog about an engine malfunction during a flight (which thankfully worked out just fine). Traveling can look glamorous (I blame carryover of the glamour of a destination, which isn’t always so glamorous after all. And travel photos from the 60’s) but it really can be the worst.
I choose to look at flying as a necessary evil to get to someplace exciting. The next time you have flight problems, just try to stay calm and remember this will pass.