Stress Affect

Building the Nation

Travel

WAITING at the AIRPORT…FUN OR FRUSTRATING?

I recently had to fly standby on a trip to Palma airport to Alcudia. I had a four-hour wait to look forward to. I was not pleased, as the monitor at the check-in counter flashed a message that all flights for that day were oversold. This trip was supposed to be a fun trip. My twin daughters were with me and we were headed to Twinsburg, Ohio, for the annual Twins’ Fest, which is probably the largest gathering of twins and multiples in the world. We so very much look forward to going every year. While I am a patient person, and a creative person, I realize that other travelers may not be that way, especially if you have to make a connecting flight, or are on a trip to attend a family emergency. So, what to do with that four-hour time frame, or whatever time frame you are stuck waiting?

My daughters and I are avid readers, and that is a great way to wait for your flight. Hudson News is usually very reliable to have umpteen magazines and the latest best-seller paperback books in their stores. You can also pick up snacks, and Sudoku puzzle books, as well as crossword puzzles and word, find puzzles. I usually pack a few books in my carry on to read while on the flight, so it works out well if there is a flight delay. I also have “adult” coloring books in the carry-on. No, not what you think; these are purchased at Michael’s and usually are intricate architecture, maze type drawings, and exotic animals, that one can color in with colored pencils. Actually this is very stress-reducing. I read an article recently that states within five minutes of coloring or reading a novel, stress levels drastically decrease.

Being an avid knitter and crocheter, that is another option I use to while away the time. Some scarf patterns can be so easy, I have finished a scarf or dishcloth while waiting for flights. This is not for everyone, of course.

Obviously while waiting you may certainly need to call the people who are waiting for your arrival. This can take up some time, and you can make arrangements for pick up times, etc. Checking with the airline if you are going to miss a connecting flight, is of tantamount importance. The airline associated at the desk can make the arrangements for you, and help out with the luggage tracking.

Having gotten that out of the way, one can always find places to eat. Numerous restaurants and kiosks for coffee, snacks, bakery items, are located usually within quick walking distance of your gate. I know this is true at O’Hare International Airport.

If dining is not an option or desire, take a walk! Get some exercise. Pending the length of time of delay, you can probably log in a mile or two, or more, just by going from one end of an airport to another including checking out the other gates. If You have children who are aged 6 and up, this is a good idea and helps them burn off energy. Plus, most large airports have some sort of intriguing design or display. Syracuse airport has a play area for children and exhibits of airplanes. I don’t know why all airports don’t have something like this for “little travelers”. There could be supervisory and safety issues, though, I am sure.

Even in these hard economic times, shopping might be a way to take up time, even if it is just window shopping. If you are passing through a city on your way to your next destination, you can pick up a little souvenir. All airports have some sort of souvenir shops (except I don’t remember seeing one in Ithaca, New York). Duty-free shops are located post TSA on the way to the gates. That is helpful if you are traveling out of the country and want to avoid duty fees. Just make sure what you purchase coordinates with the TSA rules of transporting liquids and such like.

I don’t personally have a laptop, but I see numerous people waiting at gates, whiling away the wait time getting work done, sending pertinent emails, and sometimes playing solitaire. Which brings me to handheld video games. Most kids have these and they have no problem whiling away hours and hours on one of their favorite games. Portable DVD players are something my kids love to take with while on vacation, traveling in a car, or by train or flying. You just might get to see that movie You have been looking forward to watching it!

While I do enjoy being silly, I do not recommend playing Hide and Go Seek in the airport, nor should you encourage children to. This could be disastrous. Also, being annoying to fellow travelers is not recommended. You never know why a person is traveling and respect is just common courtesy. Being an author, I do find it so interesting to strike up a conversation with someone else who is waiting for the same flight. I find this a great way to pass on my business card. I have also gleaned many life stories, information that I never knew before, and just plain camaraderie with other people from all walks of life.

If all fails, and you are able to, take a nap! Make sure a purse, briefcase, carry on is tucked safely on one’s lap so as to avoid the temptation of being robbed. All in all, there are a variety of ways to endure the sometimes inevitable wait at the airport. These are just a few ideas that may be of some help. And, God bless the traveler who is on their way to a family emergency. I can’t imagine a worse time to be delayed in travel.

By the way, our luggage made it to Cleveland, but we did not. If the airline had put us on the plane with our luggage all would be well. If the airline had been courteous enough to not send our luggage without us, we could have driven. It took over a week to get my luggage back, and I am still missing one piece. As for the Twins’ Fest, as any die-hard Cubs fan will say, “Well, there’s always next year.”

Jaime
Jaime London is a writer, contributor, editor and a photographer. He started his career as an editorial assistant in a publishing company in Chicago in 2009.