Five Ways To Survive A Travel Delay
It’s bound to happen: one day you’ll be heading home from vacay only to be faced with a delayed or cancelled flight and unexpected hours to fill. Here are my best strategies for making a good time out of a bad situation. 1. Chill Out
Sounds simple, but if I had a dollar for every traveler I’ve seen throwing a fit at the announcement of a delayed flight I’d be wearing those designer ballet flats I’ve been coveting for two years. No, the airline doesn’t have a personal vendetta against you. Yes, the check-in agent is sure you’re a very important person with lots of important stuff to do back at home. But these things happen. So take a breath, force a smile and stay calm. After all, if a late or cancelled flight is the worst thing to ever have happened to you, you’re a very lucky person.
2. Call Up
See that long line of impatient people at the counter trying to get the lone harried agent behind it to re-book them on another flight? There’s no need to join it. Instead, call your airline’s toll-free number, explain the situ, and have the agent do it for you. I used this strategy at the airport in Martinique last summer and scored a confirmed seat on the next flight and headed off for a planteur before the first passenger in line had been processed.
3. Switch Off
If you’ve arrived at the airport bleary-eyed and exhausted, spare your fellow passengers your bad mood and get thee to the nearest VIP lounge. My favorite Caribbean cloisters – Graycliff Divan in Nassau; Club Kingston and Club MoBay in Jamaica; and the Executive Lounge in St. Maarten – don’t even require membership in an airline frequent flyer program. Just pay a day fee (starting at a very reasonable $10) and you’ll enjoy perks such as air-conditioning (not always a given in the Caribbean), an outdoor deck, complimentary Wi-Fi, free drinks, and fast track service through Security. At SXM, they even have free conch fritters, chicken wings and meatballs!
4. Get Out
If your delay’s more than three hours, instead of bemoaning it why not make the most of your “bonus” vacay time? With your new boarding pass in hand, you’re free to leave the airport and explore. In Grenada, you can literally stroll across the road to beachfront Aquarium restaurant at Maca Bana hotel for a frosty Carib and a dip in the surf. If you’re stranded at the airport in St. Maarten, you’re less than five minutes from an Amstel Light on the sand at Karakter, a school-bus-turned-beach bar steps from the runway. In Mo’Bay, I’d kill time with a quick cab ride to Scotchie’s for a half-pound of jerk pork and an ice-cold Ting. And at the tiny terminal in St. Barts, you’re right in the thick of the St. Jean beach hotel and restaurant hub. But I’d be tempted to stay put at the airport in Belize. Jet’s Bar in the departure lounge serves some of the best rum punch I’ve ever had in the Caribbean, and after a couple (OK, one) I’d be happily slumped in a plastic chair for the duration.
5. Shop On
Retail therapy is my go-to diversion, delay or not. There’s good shopping at airports Nassau, where I like My Ocean’s handmade soaps, body lotions and candles. On the long shopping concourse at Mo’Bay’s Sangster International you can snag official Bob Marley merch at the Tuff Gong Traders store. And in Tortola, I always make time to stop and shop at Aragorn’s Art Studio, a two-minute walk from the airport at Beef Island. Stuck in Providenciales or Grand Cayman? Sorry, but you’re out of luck. Surprisingly, both these pricey destinations have woefully pitiful shopportunities.