As people fly home for the holidays, many of us are gearing up to deal with the wonders of modern air travel, from bewildering duty-free areas at airports to chatty neighbours on planes. One particular annoyance for literally every flyer? Flight delays. Almost everyone who flies regularly has experienced them, and flying at the same time as a bunch of other people, compounded by the fact that bad weather is more common around the holidays, means that folks who are planning on air travel this next week should be prepared to play the waiting game. A delayed flight can derail your holiday through missed connections, car and hotel snafus, and all kinds of domino-effect problems. Luckily, however, science gives us a few clues on the best ways to deal with flight delays, both by proactive planning and taking strategic action at the airport itself.
The most important thing to remember about flight delays is that the airline representatives at the gate or check-in desk have literally nothing to do with why your flight is delayed — and yelling at them or otherwise being nasty is not going to help you get to your destination faster. Etiquette pays. The second important thing is, if you're flying during a time where delays or cancellations are common, to get travel insurance before you fly which may cover you in the event of a delay. Beyond that, here are some tips and tricks taken from studies of airlines and human behavior to help you cope when the departures board suddenly says "DELAYED."