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This is a request from a friend of mine. As someone who has flown a lot, on a budget, I have a lot of experience with delayed flights. It’s particularly stressful when you have a connection that you cannot miss and through no fault of your own, your flight is delayed. I include some tips for avoiding this kind of situation in the future, tips for relaxing when your flight is delayed, and tips for making your connected flight when your flight is delayed.
Know your flying rights
It is completely awful when your flight is delayed. Whether you’re en route home or going on a dream vacation, nobody wants to be in this situation. I want to first note that it’s so important to know your airline rights depending on where your flight originated and where it lands.
If you are flying to/from the EU and your flight is delayed more than three hours, you are open to receiving compensation. If you’re offered some amount of money at the airport, you may be forfeiting your right to appeal for the late flight later, so check your rights in the applicable situation.
There are a number of external providers who will help you apply for flight delay compensation while taking a percentage of the cut. You can easily do this on your own, but it’s nice not needing to worry about the paperwork yourself after all the stress of a delay.
Some airports have a minimum amount of time between connections. For instance, Munich airport requires that the connection time between flights is at least 45 minutes (2018). If you suspect that your connection time is less than the minimum, see what the options are.
One tip for avoiding this situation is to ensure that your itinerary is booked as one itinerary, so that the airline is responsible for getting you to your destination. Just ensure that you catch all your flights on your own. Their delays are their problem.
If your connection is tight or the destination is far enough that it could be problematic, avoid disconnected flights and/or ensure that your flights have at least 1.5+ hours of waiting time in between. I refuse to do a transfer that is scheduled to be less than 40 minutes at this point. It’s not worth the stress!
If you’re stuck for a significant amount of time, try to make a day out of it
I know, delays are miserable and you want your travels to be over. However, check if it’s possible to at least do something at your unintended destination. At Amsterdam Schiphol, I’d say that six hours is more than enough to do something. It depends on the destination, but at least get a good meal or a shower outside of the airport. It makes a world of difference!
Tips for making your connecting flight if there are delays (if possible)
Sometimes, it’s impossible to make your flight if the delay is significant enough. A few times, I’ve been able to make my very tight connection by using these tips.
When you’re at the airport or once on the plane (at least halfway through the flight), ask your flight attendant about the status of your connecting flight and/or where the terminal for your new flight will be located. I like to know this information, but it’s not always possible. At a minimum, find out what gate you’ll be docked at when you land.
Within your seat pocket, you generally have a map of the airports within the airplane magazine or on another sheet of paper. I recommend plotting your route to get an idea of what you’ll need to do to catch your flight (e.g. go through security and head towards Terminal 2). It calms me when I do this and saved me a few times.
It’s not always possible to know this in advance, but I always make sure to wear a comfortable pair of shoes. The reason is that I like to be ready to sprint across the airport. Similarly, I find that a carry-on backpack makes it easier to sprint.
Be sure to pay attention to the flight announcements close to landing. In some cases, they’ll offer a rebooked flight ticket to people on certain flights as you leave. Take it just in case. In other cases, you’ll need to check the flight board as soon as you get off the plane then sprint to the nearest transfer desk. (KLM and Lufthansa have self-service transfer desks in some airports.)
Tips for relaxing
Lastly, relax. You can’t do anything while you’re waiting for a flight that is delayed. I recommend downloading a nice ebook, finding a fun game to play (that works offline), doing a crossword puzzle, or even catching up on the news. Simply, do anything that will take your mind off the flight situation.
A lot of people find that ASMR is a great way to relax. ASMR sounds weird, but a lot of people listen to these soft sounds on a daily basis for relaxation. Click for ASMR apps available on Google Play / Apple.
I find that a good puzzle game can keep my mind off a delayed flight. My only advice is to ensure that you have a power bank as games can wear down your battery. Especially if your flight is delayed, you need to have a working phone.
My go-to way of relaxing during a delay is to download a list of things to write about. I turn off the wi-fi, put on music, and just write endlessly. Not everyone is a writer, but I find that writing distracts me well! Just don’t put on the music too loud and check occasionally if others are moving as it’s often a sign that something is happening! Best of luck!