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Delays, Breakdowns, and Meltdowns: How to Handle Yourself When Your Flight is Cancelled

pojoslaw / iStock / thinkstock.com

pojoslaw / iStock / thinkstock.com

Maybe I’m not the best to write this, but the last time we had a delay, breakdown, and meltdown (yes, I had a meltdown), we did get a night at a resort with dinner, breakfast, and a flight out the next day.

Delays are inevitable if you travel often enough and there is really nothing you can do about it. That doesn’t mean I don’t throw a fit—heck, I can throw a fit at the drop of a hat but it really does no good. Delays are acceptable occurrences for airlines, be it for mechanical or weather reasons—but just try once to be running a little late on your own and boy do they get huffy. Just because I spent a little bit too long in the concourse bar, I found my bags lying on the tarmac and got a very stern admonition from the gate agent. I tried to blame it on the weather but she wasn’t buying it.

Now these also are inevitable but usually fixable. Several times I’ve been on a plane that pulled out from the gate, and pulled right back up, which is a tease that I think they enjoy all too much. Once on a trip to Mexico the Captain and his co-pilot Tennille announced that we couldn’t even pull out of the gate because the radio was out. Now I was perfectly fine with pushing on as I brought my own tunes with me, so if they deem it that important I guess we’ll wait. I know when I taught my kid to drive, the radio was the first, most critical adjustments to make—so who am I to judge. Luckily the problem was resolved, radio contact restored and off we went.

Here’s where it gets tricky and the meltdown starts to brew. On a recent trip back from the Caribbean we observed about 8 or 9 guys hanging around the front landing gear on the plane we were waiting to board; not a good sign. It slowly became obvious the problem was serious when they announced a delay. Now faulty landing gear seems a tad bit more urgent than the radio so I was very understanding. Well, minutes stretched into more minutes and my vast travelling experience brought me to the conclusion that this plane wasn’t flying today, especially when I overheard a crewman say, “This plane isn’t flying today.”

The problem is: you can’t just take just bail out and rebook something else until they officially cancel the flight. When the crewman—who, due to my vast traveling experience, I took for a mechanic because he had greasy hands and his shirt tag said “Mechanic”—reiterated that the plane wasn’t flying today, you would think they would cancel the flight. Still it took almost an hour for the announcement. In the meantime it got very ugly with pushing, shoving, pleading, begging, and other things I’m not proud of.

If you have a smart phone, which I’m not smart enough to own, you should immediately contact the airline for other flights to your destination. Otherwise, you’ll be at the counter with me and it is not pretty. They have to put you up for the night and provide meals if it is a mechanical problem and they can’t get you out that day. If it’s weather related, you’re screwed. If that’s the case, you should get right on the internet and book a room before that sweet old lady next to you out-types you on her smart phone and gets the last one. If all else fails and you’re stranded at the airport in a snowstorm, hopefully you can outrun that sweet old lady and at least grab that last bar stool on the concourse.


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