Stuck on a Langoliers-type flight: Tips for how to get through bad flights

Happy Travel Tuesday!

In the past three weeks I have had, what some may refer to as, bad flights. In one such flight, my plane circled our intended airport for 40 minutes and then eventually diverted to a different city 90 miles away. At some point we all came to the realization that we were circling. But it had been a while it dawned on us. It is amazing how the body can be fooled so high up in the air. Looking out the window one could see the heavy dark clouds below. I just thought that was the general dark cloud that tends to follow me. We circled and circled some more till we did not have enough fuel to last another 40 minutes of circling. We landed and waited it out and took off again. I was starving and past my limit of airplane work. I most assuredly didn’t want to think of work anymore that day as I was trying to make it to the opening session of a work conference. My thoughts kept wandering into the “how boring would the session be” and how long could I go without eating. The flight attendants kept offering pretzels to satisfy our hunger but no free cocktails. Bah humbug on them. Eventually, I did make it to Miami and the conference; although, I did miss the opening plenary. The reception did have a boring speech so I still got to get my boredom on. Lucky me. Who gives a boring speech when people have wine in their hands. Something so wrong there.

 

After that trip I got to enjoy another lovely (meaning bad) flight. My premium paid seat was taken away and I was placed in the very last row of the flight where all the people who had been treated badly were placed. There was a guy smoking in the bathroom, a pregnant woman near vomiting because of the smell, a guy that was hallucinating and a refugee family that could not speak English. Instead of trying to help them navigate the flight experience (they didn’t even know how to open the pretzel bag and kept trying to take my alcohol through the arm rest slits) the flight attendants pretended this family didn’t exist and barely showed any compassion. Those of us in the last row starting buying rounds of alcohol for each other. Meanwhile, I was working on yet another grant. It is not a good thing to write a plea for money when things seem to be conspiring against you. Although, the cocktails certainly did help smooth some of that experience over.

 

Besides cocktails, here are some other tips for getting through these crazy flights.

 

1. A twitter account. Tweet your rage. Go ahead and tweet at the airline. They do respond. Not always productively, mind you. But they respond. I once had my flight rebooked through a twitter exchange with Delta Airlines. That was quite impressive. I once waited in a hotel check in line for an hour although there were only four people ahead of me. I tweeted my outrage and the hotel responded. Although, they were still very lame.

 

2. Food. Never ever get on a plane, regardless of supposed flight time, without food. However, I would caution against hot and spicy turkey jerkey. I was starving on the flight and ate my grapes. Then we kept circling and circling some more. Finally I tore into the jerkey. I love spicy food. Apparently, my long-hungry empty stomach just couldn’t take a whole bag of spicy jerkey. After eating the bag, my stomach was in agony. Despite my snack mistake, it is always good to have food on hand. On the flight where I was in the last row, they had already run out of their over-priced boxed meals. Just be a boy scout and always go food-prepared.

 

3. A sense of humor. Things can go badly. Things can be really bad. However, if you give into negativity, the flight will be even worse. I have seen people get so agitated on flights, losing their cool, and eventually causing the flight attendants to threaten an emergency landing. You have to laugh at things. A tight space 30,000 feet up in the air is mot conducive for filling one’s body and mind with rage. Laugh it off. View the new flight videos where they instruct you on the mechanics of the flight while they insert random silly things such as ducks into the video. Laugh it off or write a blog.

 

4. Serial television episodes. Yes, is great to watch a movie on the plane. However, in case a flight time gets surprisingly elongated, serial episodes will distract your mind more so than a movie. The episodic nature of the viewing will help maintain your interest. Me, I have 15 episodes of Veronica Mars, on my Ipad. I get hooked into the viewing experience and forget that the flight is a wacked out one.

 

5. Commiserate with others. I generally like to be left alone on a flight. I work and watch my videos. I tune out my neighbors. On a bad flight, however, your seatmates are your potential lifeline. When in the back row, I offered the first round of drinks. Thereafter, we bonded in our common misery and wished each other many more happy travels.

 

6. Carry a flickable item. Huh? Yes, carry a barrette, a rubber band, a scrunchy. Tap it when you get agitated or nervous. That little movement can be distracting and gives you a jolt of tiny energy. Thus, you redirect the anxiety you feel into a physical jolt of energy tricking yourself into attributing that biting anxiety to the flick.

 

7. Pay for wi-fi. Yes, considering length of time-flight, the price of wi-fi can be a bit steep. However, it is soothing to be able to communicate in real-time with others out on the ground. I love writing emails with the subject header of “hello from up in the air.”

 

8. Get your blood flowing. Stand up. Walk to the restroom. Do dome tight-space Pilates stretches. Eat dark chocolate. Seriously. Research has shown dark chocolate helps with poor circulation. So, lets see. Dark chocolate has caffeine, sugar and helps get the blood flow moving. Can we get a petition going to substitute those stale pretzels with dark chocolate. It will make us feel good and help make the flights be smoother.