Tales from Gate and Runway

December 26, 2007

in Airlines, Airports, Reader Tips, Travel, USA

Three friends, three holiday flights home, 18.5 hours of delay. Hear their survival advice after the jump.

First flight: Boston-L.A.

Situation: due to a snowstorm in Boston, flight was delayed by an hour. Then plane waited 1.5 hours for de-icing and another 30 minutes to take off. Total delay: 3 hours.

Advice from this traveler: “Bring lots of snacks, a long book and to make sure your cell phone is charged” to call your friends or family on the other end with updates.

Super-smart tip: register yourself AND your friends and family at the airline’s website for flight status updates, arrival and departure times sent to email or mobile phone.

Second flight: Memphis-Boston

Situation: flights delayed in Memphis due to snowstorm in Boston. 2.5 hours after intended departure, plane began boarding. After first class had finished, passengers were ordered off plane. Further delay of 1.5 hours. Passengers boarded onto plane, plane pulls away from the gate and turns toward runway . . . and pilot announces a necessary return to the gate with an additional 2.5 hour delay because another plane had skidded off the runway. 15 minutes of waiting at the gate before someone could be found to man the jetway. Everyone deplanes into gate area. All airport facilities have been closed for four hours — there is nowhere for passengers to buy food or drink. A gate agent takes passengers’ change to purchase snacks and beverages from employee vending machines in a secured area. At 12:30 a.m., passengers were hurriedly boarded onto the plane which finally took off, arriving in Boston at 3:20 a.m. Total delay: 6.5 hours.

Advice from this traveler: “Travel light, but bring stuff to do, some food, a change of underwear, deodorant and your toothbrush.”

Super-smart tip: “if your flight is delayed, try to find out when the crew times out, because that can be the difference between waiting around for hours for a cancelled flight, and waiting around for hours before actually departing on the plane.”

Third flight: D.C. to Wisconsin via Detroit

Situation: 9 hour delay in Detroit

Advice from this traveler: travel with a spouse or friend with an airport clubs membership (or perhaps beg someone to take you as their free guest).

Nota bene:  no matter how much you’ve paid for that membership, airport clubs generally close for the night — so if you end up sleeping in the airport due to weather delays, don’t expect to do so in their lap of luxury!

Tip of the hat to Erika, Patricia and Jennie.

{ 2 trackbacks }

No-Budget Travel Failures « Less Than a Shoestring
12.01.08 at 3:23 pm
Fly Smarter: Know Alternative Connections « Less Than a Shoestring
12.03.08 at 4:03 pm

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Joyangel123 12.28.07 at 10:01 pm

Good to Know. But I think the airlines should have emergency workers to deal with their customers needs whenever they arise. They have been doing this for a long time now and these delays are more commonplace than every now and then.

Airline services should include making people as comfortable as they can during such delays. A new system is definitely needed.


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