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Subject to Change (Part 3)


After five days, my lost luggage appeared on my doorstep waiting to be unpacked and put away. In like manner, I will unpack the last of my personal lessons and put this topic—Subject to Change—aside. Practical tips follow.

Tips for Managing Air Travel Chaos

Stay near your gate

Change can happen quickly, and you don’t want to miss the flight wandering through the nearest bookstore.

Gather as much information as possible

Ask intelligent questions pertinent to your situation. (Examples: Where is the inbound aircraft coming from? Is it in the air? When will it arrive here? Do we have a crew? Are you showing weather delays? What is the mechanical problem that needs repair?)

Be aware that rumors abound amidst airport confusion

Not everyone wearing a uniform actually knows what is going on.

Get on the phone

In some situations, you might get faster service from a call center than from a beleaguered desk agent.

Stay alert

When delays continue to plague your prescribed flight, be prepared for a cancellation (looms)

Just wait

If you are on a stand by list, stay put in the boarding zone. You just never know. This tip came from a gate agent, and proved worth its weight in gold. On yet a different trip in January, a mechanical problem threw my whole itinerary cross-country itinerary out of whack.

Desperate to get home, I held spot #11 on a standby list of 11, for an already overbooked flight. Tempted to give up and console myself with a nice meal, I conferred with the airline personnel managing my gate.

“Should I just accept reality and leave?” I asked.

“Sure, you can do that, but you might want to wait. You just never know what will happen.” Truer travel words were never spoken.

The maxed out plane loaded, and the gate agent began calling names from the list of stand by passengers. Imagine my exhilaration when I heard, Deborah Thompson!

The agent smiled and handed me my boarding pass with these parting comments, “Congratulations. I am glad you got on. Many of those on the list ahead of you did not wait. They left. Now enjoy your flight.”

Be nice, even if no one else is

God wants you to be a blessing in the midst of the brouhaha. And be sensitive to those around you; not everyone wants to chat, and not everyone cares to see the latest photos of your grandchildren.

Consider the elements

Weather will always influence your travel plans. And just so you know, air travel in the summer is subject to thunderstorms, and air travel in the winter is subject to icy and snow. Both have the potential to close airports and ground aircraft. Count on it. And in such cases, the airline is not obligated to cover your expenses.

Think quickly but not carelessly

When it is your turn at the desk, be clear and concise with the agent, Though a line waits behind you, don’t be pressured to act in haste. Once given the alternatives, ask the Lord’s guidance. Then act; make a decision.

Enjoy the confusion

“Never let a good crisis go to waste.” (M. F. Weiner) With that conclusion, I officially bring Subject to Change in for a landing.

Living With Eternal Intentionality®

What is your best tip for managing airport chaos?

How did you learn this lesson?