This week several airlines went through a catastrophic hiccup with a worldwide network failure of the Amadeus Altea system, one of the Global Distribution System or GDS that many carriers as their reservations system. The outage caused several flights by different carriers serious delays or worse grounded. This created delays and cancellations for many travelers inconvenienced and it took this no-frills airline three days to catch up.
When people travel, most of us do not want any glitches or mishaps, especially if we are traveling on business running on a very tight schedule.
There are other reasons why flights are delayed. Often the aircraft itself is delayed coming from another city. Other reasons could be mechanical or weather-related issues. Depending on the reason, wait time can vary. So what do you do if this happens to you? On a recent trip to Austin my return flight was delayed three hours. These are the things I noticed some people do at the airport when their flights are delayed.
Check with the gate agent for the next available flight – This is the first thing travelers should do especially if you are booked on connecting flights. Chances are if your first flight is delayed, you will miss your connecting flight. Check with the gate agent for the next available flight to your connecting city to avoid missing your connection. This could save you a whole lot of time and trouble. With this, be sure to be extra nice to the gate agent so you can get to the next available flight. Being grumpy never helps.
Book your flight with another airline – major carriers such as United Airlines and American Airlines has reservations system that shares flight and inventory information amongst them for scenarios like these. Some of these airlines would even purchase the new tickets for you for compensation of the long delay. However, Southwest Airlines’ reservation system works independently from them. Normally an airline should tell you how long he delays would be. But for seriously long delays, you can always head to another airline counter for the next available flight.
Hang out at the airline lounge – most frequent travelers already do this and they take good advantage of the complimentary items and services airline lounges offer. They also have a departures board where you can check the status of your flight. The receptionist at the lounge can also help with checking availability for other flights to your destination.
Check out the duty free shops – Did you forget your toothbrush or cellphone charger, or perhaps you need to buy some last minute gifts or souvenirs before heading home. Here’s your chance to get these things and other travel essentials before boarding, and for a very good price. Here you can also get snacks and reading materials for long flight.
Eat – Studies show that our taste buds and palettes acts very differently once we are at cruising altitude. This is why most people complain about airline food. It’s not the food that tastes weird or funny. It’s your tongue acting differently. So before boarding, it’s not a bad idea to have breakfast, lunch or dinner at an airport restaurant or café, to avoid going hungry on the flight.
Work – or to some of us, blog. This is the perfect opportunity to catch up on email at the same time charging your phone or laptop at a charging station at the airport or airline lounge. Buying WiFi on board can be pricey and most airports nowadays have free WiFi for waiting passengers, so take advantage of this.
Chat, talk – I often see a lot of people on the phone or simply sitting next to their travel companions while waiting at the airport. This idle time is often perfect to catch up on things about friends and love-ones. If you contact them by phone, I recommend calling not texting. Hearing your voice is far more satisfying from the other person’s perspective.
Plan your itinerary – going on vacation for a short time? For those who like to plan things to do every minute of your vacation in advance, why not do it now. This would be the best time to buy admission tickets in advance at some of the sights you want to visit avoiding long lines.
Walk – Yes, walk! The good thing is some of the above activities involve walking. If you will be hopping into a long flight, its best to exercise your legs now to avoid leg cramps. Don’t just sit by the gate, get up and walk around!
Regardless of what you do, be sure to look at the departures board and listen to PA announcements for updates. Some airlines would offer flight status updates via text or email aside for their regular announces they do at the airport. Whatever you do, do not sleep or take a nap. You can do that on the plane the minute you take off. I have seen people at the airport miss their flights because of much needed sleep. Safe travels!