Flying is typically the quickest way to get from point A to point B so it’s usually a no-brainer for parents who are traveling a long way with their kids. What do you do when a flight gets cancelled and you are stuck in an unfamiliar city with the littles though? Here are some tips to turn the seemingly problematic experience into a positive one.
Wait a little while longer
Now that your flight has been cancelled, you’ve probably already been sitting in the airport for hours with squirmy, hungry, tired kids. It hasn’t been fun for anyone. There is a line 50 people long to talk to the attendants about making arrangements now that the flight has been cancelled—don’t join it. You may have to wait another hour before it’s your turn, so why not spend that time breaking out the snacks and playing with action figures on the floor instead? Your little person has probably already been stretched to the limit for today, so spend time interacting with him is truly the best use of your time. Eventually the line will get shorter and you can get everything sorted out.
While you wait, spend a few minutes contacting family members to let them know that you are safe and that your plans have changed. In addition, give the hotel you are staying at a ring and update them on the situation so it isn’t a surprise that you won’t be checking in on time. Keeping the important people in-the-know will keep everyone from worrying about you and the family until things have been sorted out.
Kids get hungry. Hell, after sitting in the airport for the past five hours, you may in fact be ready to nom off your own right arm. Especially if the line to speak with the airline representatives is long, feel free to break away from the gate for ten minutes an hit up the nearest Hudson News for a bag of chips and a can of soda. All family members will appreciate a little food in their bellies.
Once the moment finally arrives and you get your turn to chat with the poor airline rep, be firm, yet polite. They should be able to offer you alternate options on flights or book you a stay at an airport hotel if they can’t get you out until the next day. Be sure to inquire about a meal voucher—they should give you a meal at a local restaurant or a full-service place in the airport for the inconvenience. Always remember though, it’s not the attendant’s fault that the flight was cancelled, and they have been dealing with tired, frustrated customers all day. They want to be able to help you out, and they are more likely to amiable if you are.
Free flight anyone?
Airlines are notorious for overbooking flights just in case not every passenger makes it to the gate. This means that when everyone does show, not everyone gets to fly. The airline attendants will usually start by asking for volunteers to take a different flight; you want to be that person! If you are prepared with snacks, toys and movies, hang out in the airport for a few more hours with the kiddos and get vouchers for free flights for the family’s next trip.
Shauna Armitage is a parenting blogger, a freelance travel writer and the co-founder of Pure Wander Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @CarpeCalamus