What To Do When Your Flight Is Delayed, And You're Stuck At The Airport For Hours

For most of us, Thanksgiving means family gatherings, over-eating and, if you're traveling, inevitable flight delays. If the unavoidable strikes again this Thanksgiving, as it's almost guaranteed to during one of the worst times to travel of the year, here are a few things to do when your flight is delayed.

Few situations feel as crappy as making the cold, crowded trek back home for the holidays, and then facing major delays that cut into an already measly three-day excursion. Before you Planes, Trains and Automobiles yourself to a neurotic mess, accept the inescapable by making the best of the undesirable situation at hand. Easier said than done, but the sooner you can achieve the final stage of grief and accept that you have no control over the flight delays that are piling up in domino effect, the sooner you can get to utilizing your excess of dead time in a positive manner.

Be it two hours or two hours that extends into 10, the delay can be an opportunity to finally do things you otherwise wouldn't make time to do. Catch up on your Netflix queue, or with friends and relatives you forgot to call back. Curb your growing frustrations by allowing yourself some "me time" you might otherwise feel guilty for. Put the extra hours to good use by taking care of the messes in your life, be they digital or material, so when you do finally make it to your destination you'll be a new and improved you.

1. Watch your favorite show (or start a new one, you have time)

Knock off a few more episodes of your favorite show, or if you're really committed, start up the first season of a new show you've always been meaning to get into.

2. Treat yourself

You deserve a little tender loving care. You woke up at the crack of dawn, spent an hour in security, stepped aside to have your bag thoroughly checked, and still made it to the gate early only to find your flight's been delayed indefinitely. Have a masseuse, or a chair, work out the stress knots that are building up in your back. Finish it off with a mani-pedi to give your early airport excursion purpose (and have something nice to admire during the impending hours of wait time).

3. Window shop in duty free

Take a stroll through the brightly lit, marble floored duty free aisles, and admire luxury lipstick gift sets and night creams. Feel like you escaped the dreary terminals of the airport as you walk through a provocative world of fragrance campaigns and mountains of stacked Toblerone bars. Spritz yourself with Chanel, and imagine a much chicer airport situation.

4. People watch

Few places are better for people watching than the airport, especially during the holidays when flights are being delayed left and right. Grab a coffee, and situate yourself comfortably with a first row view of passersby and take it all in. You'll see individuals at the various first four stages of flight delay grief you yourself were experiencing just hours before, but now you'll be observing from an elevated place of zen.

5. Read a book in the bookstore

Once your eyes need a break from a screen but you're still looking for a good story, head over to one of the airport's many magazine and book stores, and grab a page turner. If you don't feel like dishing out inflated prices for a paperback, post up right there and read to your heart's content.

6. Indulge in some old-school fun

If you're with company, it's time to bring back Hangman or The Alphabet Game. For those traveling solo, pick up a newspaper, and try your hand at a crossword puzzle. Nothing speeds up time like wracking your brain over "Dullsville," four letters.

7. Make calls and catch up

Remember your cousin who texted last week, but you never responded? Or you college BFF with whom you always make failed plans to Skype? Or how about your dad, who you'll see if you ever make it onto an airplane, but who would greatly appreciate more than a terse text updating him on your flight status? Hit them up now. Thanksgiving is the time for reconnecting with loved ones. Pro tip: keep it more "Hey, how are you?" to family members and friends you haven't spoken to in a while, and less Adele's "Hello."

8. Clean up your life

Nothing feels better than a clean inbox with just the important stuff, and zero unopened emails. Use this down time to delete those Twitter updates and Bed Bath & Beyond promos. Once that's clear, go through your wallet and do the same. There's no reason you still need the drugstore receipt from the water bottle you bought last week, or the punchcard from the coffee shop that only exists in your college town.

9. Look for displays and expositions

Many airports showcase temporary expositions and permanent awe-inspiring installations. During your typical airport visit you're too busy rushing between gates or grabbing a snack before your flight to take in some of the cooler design features around you. With the newfound time on your hands, why not explore the airport to discover some of these worthwhile offerings?

10. Use the departures and arrivals screens as inspiration for your next trip

It doesn't hurt to daydream when the situation around you is turning into a nightmare. Next time you're checking your flight status on the departures board, let your eyes wander across to other destinations, and fantasize about your next trip.

11. Hit up the airport bar

Finally, my favorite go-to on the list: wheel your carry-on over to the airport bar, and order a cold one to drown your sorrows. You'll be posted up among other disgruntled passengers, so chances are you'll make friends, at least for a couple hours, with other stranded souls in the same superlatively sheisty situation.

Images: Pexels; Giphy (12)

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