Life – it’s unpredictable and doesn’t always go as we planned it. This has never been as apparent in the travel industry as it has in 2020. Life in 2020 has thrown a curve ball at all of us and our planned travels. How are you adapting and trying to be positive in this crazy time?
Even before covid-19 there was always a chance of something to disrupt travel plans, just on a much smaller scale and certainly not happening to everyone in the entire world at once.
Transportation can be so unpredictable, whether you are driving, flying or taking a train, there is always something unpredictable that can happen.
We’ve all dealt with delays when flying, they are annoying and can definitely throw your schedule off track. I’ve gone months and even years with no delays or delays so minimal that it didn’t even affect me much.
But then there are the times when you have major delays. And how you handle these situations can make your trip awful or not too bad. Years ago when flying from Tampa, where I was living at the time, to Boston to visit family, I had a layover in Philadelphia. The plane landed in Philadelphia to dark skies with storms threatening in the distance. After getting into the terminal, I found out that my connecting flight wasn’t just delayed due to the weather, it was cancelled and the next flight they could put me on was 8 hours later. No one wants to spend 8 hours in a busy airport! I was in my 30s at the time and ran into an older lady in her 80s and another lady in her 50s in the same situation. We decided to all go and get some food and keep each other company for the 8 hours. The three of us were from different generations and had absolutely nothing in common, but to this day, that is the best time I have ever had in an airport and surprisingly those 8 hours flew by. Good company always makes a bad situation better! I didn’t do a bad job of handling that delay.
Flash forward to last December, I was flying home from Gulfport, MS after visiting for the weekend for a half marathon. I woke up that morning to a text that my flight out of Gulfport was cancelled and they needed to reschedule my flight. The new flight included two stops one in Dallas and one in DC. Not only would I be flying all over the country to get home (Dallas is in the opposite direction from Mississippi to Boston), but I would be getting in much later too. I started off with a good attitude knowing there was nothing I could do about it and just grateful I had a lot of books on my kindle to keep me busy.
My flight arrived in Dallas and my connection, like most of the flights in Dallas was delayed. They kept delaying it more and more and I was then worried I would not make my connection in DC. Luckily there are a ton of flights from DC to Boston, so I was able to get rescheduled on a later one. By the time my flight left Dallas, it was the same time I was originally supposed to be landing in Boston, it had already been a LONG day.
I arrived in DC and was glad I was able to reschedule to a later flight, since the earlier flight was leaving 10 minutes after I stepped in the terminal. I was instantly happy with my decision and decided to go grab a drink while I waited for my later flight. Well then I got a text stating the flight was cancelled. I realized then that I made a bad decision changing the flight.
Being tired after a long travel day, knowing I would not get home that night and mad at myself for making the wrong decision, I did not handle this cancellation well at all. They claimed it was due to weather in Boston, yet my parents said there was no rain, snow or wind in Boston that day or night at all but that the next morning there was supposed to be a snow storm. I was of course afraid it would take all day to get home the next day due to this storm. I ended up getting in a slightly heated discussion with the gate agent. Not my best moment, but she put me over the edge when she tried to tell me that I would be safe sleeping in the airport. I was alone so sleeping with no one else to keep an eye on things like my purse, didn’t sound safe to me!
Luckily I had some Hilton points saved up and was able to use them to get a free room near the airport so I could get a few hours of safe sleep and then head back to the airport and hope my 6am flight took off.
The next morning was much better, after 3 hours of sleep I went to the airport and my flight took off and landed in the middle of the snowstorm in Boston and I was home and working by 9am. It was a long, tiring, frustrating day and everything worked out well, so I definitely could have handled it better and should have, it wasn’t anyone’s fault, especially not the gate agent. I spent years working at the front desk of hotels, so I know exactly how awful it is to deal with an upset customer.
Looking back at these two examples, I hope I can handle them all like the first one going forward. Have you had a flight delay or cancellation (I’m sure you have), how have you handled it?