As a busy, professional speaker, the tale I’m about to tell is not unique. I’m stuck in Baltimore after my flight from Philly to MSP was delayed, delayed and then finally cancelled after 5 hours of waiting yesterday. The only way to get home was to drive 2.5 hours to BWI and get on a plane later the next morning. I hope it doesn’t rain. There go all my appointments for the day.
While I’m stuck, here’s an article to help you get through the inevitable problems you will face when you too are stranded in a strange airport in the middle of the night.
Here’s my number one tip: be extra nice and courteous to the counter people. They get a lot of grief from 99 percent of the people on line. If you greet them with a smile and a pleasant attitude, they will move mountains for you.
1. Carry the toll-free numbers of all your travel partners, i.e. airline clubs, car rentals and hotels. You’ll want to call them to make plans. You don’t want to have to be delayed even more because you can’t find those numbers, especially when you are stressed out.
2. Call the toll-free hotline. If you are a member of the airline club, you’ll get priority. The folks on the phone do the same things as the folks at the counters. So you’ll avoid waiting in line behind 200 other people.
3. Be patient. The folks on the phone are doing the best they can. They might be searching for many options to find the best flights. Be upbeat and cheerful.
4. Get the names of people who make promises to you, i.e. there’s a room at the hotel, or you can bring your car in later than printed on the contract without penalty.
5. Ask for anything you can get. For example, free meals, free hotel rooms, free ground transportation, upgraded seats. Sometimes you can get these. Sometimes you can’t. If you don’t ask, then you never will. I got a free night hotel and vouchers for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
6. Keep you daily planner with you. If you need to cancel or rearrange client appointments for the next day, you’ll be glad you did.
7. Keep your meds and essentials with you. Don’t pack them on the checked luggage.
8. If you don’t have to check luggage, then don’t. If you have your bag with you, you have more options to change planes at the last minute. I waited about an hour to retrieve checked bags and had to run around the airport to do it.
9. Recharge your cell phone and laptop whenever you can. You never know when you’ll find your next working electrical outlet. Many outlets in airports don’t work! Look for charging stations. They are great!
If you follow these tips, you might make the best of what could be a very bad situation.