What to do if your flight’s delayed

Flight delays are an inevitable part of travel. Whether it’s due to weather, plane problems, or a follow-on effect from an earlier flight, one thing is for sure, it’s completely out of your control. While it’s easy to get frustrated in this situation, it won’t get you anywhere and only ensures that you – and everyone around you – won’t have a good time. Instead, learn how to approach a plane delay like a pro.

First things first, it’s important to ascertain why your flight has been delayed. If it’s a knock-on effect from an earlier flight arriving late, it’s unlikely your flight will be cancelled altogether and you’re probably looking at a maximum of a few hours. If however, it’s related to weather or mechanical issues, you could be in for the long haul or potentially a cancellation.

It is also wise to speak to any airline officials at this point to find out which alternative arrangements may be made. If your flight is cancelled or significantly delayed your airline should offer alternate transport, food vouchers and accommodation, so make sure you put your hand up for this. You may also have access to additional compensation at a later point. Particularly if you have travel insurance!

Once you have obtained these vital details the best thing you can do is accept the situation and make the most of your extra time on the ground. Here are 15 things to do that beat sitting and sulking:

  1. Go through and clear out your email inbox
  2. Buy a trashy magazine and be thankful you’re not a celebrity whose every move is scrutinised
  3. Distract yourself with a good book – now’s a great time to browse the book shop
  4. Buy some cards and play a game
  5. Sort through your photos and delete any you don’t want
  6. Upload your travel photos to social media or send to friends – they don’t have to know you’re stuck in an airport!
  7. Contact a friend you haven’t spoken to for a while – it’s easy for life to get in the way but what better time than now to reconnect?
  8. If you can access wifi, download an audiobook, catch up on your favourite Netflix show or start learning a new language
  9. Peruse the duty free shop – now’s the perfect time to test out a new perfume or headphones
  10. Find a quiet area and do some stretches or rest your eyes
  11. Research your destination and make a bucket list for your trip (or if you’re heading home, make a to-do list for when you’re back)
  12. Buy yourself a glass of wine, or your drink of choice
  13. Take yourself for a nice meal, most airports actually have good restaurants now
  14. Get your nails done, or find a massage chair and some spare change
  15. Make a new friend. After all you’re all in this together and you never know the friendship may last far longer than the flight delay!

Two final tips: depending on the nature of the delay, I wouldn’t stray too far from your gate; the worst outcome would be to miss your delayed plane altogether.

As a wise person once said, if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel. Should your airline choose not to cover you for delays or cancellations, travel insurance is the perfect plan B so long as you keep all your receipts and don’t spend excessively.

What’s your favourite way to make the most of your time in transit?

Written by YourLifeChoices Writers

YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.

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