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Flight Delays: Cope or Mope?

Could there be two more dreaded words in the traveler’s vocabulary than “flight delayed”? This week, it’s been all over the news: It’s officially the worst time for flight delays in 13 years. To put that in perspective, the last time we had it this bad, O.J. Simpson was white Bronco-ing it along the Los Angeles freeway.

A few weeks ago, I dealt with a flight delay by taking out my cell phone and calling friends in my contact list who I hadn’t talked to in awhile. It ended up being a really nice way to reconnect. That I could actually enjoy a flight delay definitely freaked me out a little, but it also showed me that the best way to deal with something I had absolutely no control over was to just surrender to it.

Make no mistake–if I could choose somewhere to spend my free time, it wouldn’t be at the airport, but as someone who’s not willing to give up her travels, I’m stuck there on a fairly regular basis. I’m willing to bet that as passenger capacity increases, airports can only become better places to spend time in—after all, a captive audience makes for good business. If we’re already able to drown our flight-delay sorrows in an airport-bar martini, maybe one day our airports will have movie theatres, yoga studios, speed dating, and bowling alleys.

For now, I guess I’ll be waiting out my delays by composing the perfect grievance letter to the airline, catching up on Lindsay Lohan’s rehab progress with a lingering visit to the magazine rack, or searching for commonalities in all the people reading the latest Harry Potter book. What else is there to do? Since flight delays are here to stay at least for the near future, do you cope or do you mope?


My name: Rachel Berg.

Favorite way to get around: By Venetian gondola during starlit high tide, gliding past decaying and slightly spooky palaces, with perhaps a bottle of prosecco placed between the gondola seat cushions.

View that took my breath away: Unable to sleep in the mystical city of Sfat in Israel, I wandered outdoors predawn and was treated to a purple-on-purple sunrise below the mountaintop that seemed to emerge feet-first through ground-level clouds.

Greatest travel lesson learned: Sunny weather isn't everything. Some of my best travel memories involve go-karting through a deluge turned mud-fest in Mexico, drinking tea in the cold Denali tundra, and watching electric thunderstorms roll through national parks out West.

Most challenging travel moment: Getting leveled by altitude sickness in Cuzco and realizing that my body was forcing me to slow down and rest despite the fact that there was so much to do and see.

Travel ambition: To see the northern lights.



Last month I was stuck for close to 2 hours on a plane on the tarmac in the middle seat of the last row in front of the bathrooms. If I had to be delayed, I would have preferred to be in the airport where at least I could have walked around and bought something else to read. So to answer your question, I can cope on the ground, but mope on the plane!


My happiness levels during delays depend on whether the airport offers free WiFi or not. If they do I can waste many many hours online. If not I will pay to get online and still waste many hours, but I’ll spend the first hour complaining to the people around me about how exorbitant it is to get online. They aren’t usually very sympathetic.

Nothing But Bonfires

Being stuck in the airport tends to bring out all my worst qualities: complaining, whining, raging, an addiction to tabloid magazines, and absolute powerlessness in the face of Caramellos.

I’ve found Sudoku helps, although I’m sure a yoga studio would too. It would have to be soundproofed, though — I can’t imagine anything putting me off my downward dog more than “WE WILL NOW BEGIN BOARDING ROWS 10 AND UPWARDS! ON EVERY FLIGHT EXCEPT YOURS!” blasting from the speakers every five minutes.


I hate delayed flights. Usually I just head for the nearest location of Sam Adams bar, but on occasion I’m lucky enough to find an empty outlet and a Netflix disk in my carry-on so that I can watch a movie whilst I wait.

They should definitely put more diversions in airports. What about a Wii gaming center? And the bowling alley idea is brilliant, Rachel.


I always bring card games with me. Not the usual deck of cards, but games like Gloom or Guillatine. Interesting, random, usually considered underground games that can be played with anything from two to six or eight players and don’t take a very long time to play.

Then I tend to snag ANYONE who looks as bored as I am and convince them to play card games with me. It’s been a great way to pass the time.


I love one day Admiral’s Club passes. Of course my longest delay this summer was in Baltimore and they don’t have one, or a bar in our concourse. Painful. No outlets, my ipod ran out of power. My Blackberry and 10 magazines saved the day.


Lindsay Lohan reading material isn’t enough to get you through a 2 hour delay on the tarmac — I need Lindsay herself in the seat next door to really go from mope to cope!


Spent 3 hours on the tarmac in Turin today as our target airport had a snow storm. Then when we got to the destination airport we had to wait 1.5 hours on the tarmac for a parking space to be de-iced! It is the worst thing ever to sit on a plane on the ground, going nowhere for such a long time.

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