So today was going to be part 3 of my states series. But with what is happening at Hartsfield Jackson Airport, I had to change my game plan for the day.
I wrote a post a little while back on last-minute travel where I was talking about our plans to spend Christmas in Texas. The fire at the airport has changed all of that.
I woke up this morning to a flurry of emails and notifications from the airline. Our flight was scheduled for tomorrow and it has been canceled.
First, let me tell you what I know (which isn’t much). The airport had a fire that burnt up the backup generators and caused an extended power outage. Power was restored at around midnight EST and now the real work begins. Passengers were stuck on planes and in dark terminals for hours (according to reports). People have to be let off of there planes and collect their luggage while at the same time others are most likely flooding to the counters to get their tickets fixed.
Hartsfield airport is the busy airport in the world, seeing an average of 275,000 people each day. And with Christmas a week away, I can only imagine how packed it is today.
So what I am about to tell you may not apply to you but I would like to share some things I have learned about dealing with travel plan upheaval.
I know this sounds simple but it is usually the first thing we do. When you allow yourself to panic, your brain loses some ability to use logic. Just a few years back O’Hare airport was threatened. Someone called and said there was a bomb (there wasn’t as far as I know). Why am I telling you this? Because it affected flights from all over the country just as this current situation is about to. This particular event happened the day before my mother’s funeral and a cousin of mine and his wife (living in New Jersey at the time), had their flight canceled and couldn’t come.
He began to panic and called my aunt (his mother) while we were at the viewing. In his panic, he actually thought I would be angry with him for not making it. He offered to send me pictures of their boarding passes and his frequent flyer statement. This sounds silly now but at the time, this is how his brain reacted to the panic he felt.
Panic can also make you angry. One thing we often forget is that the people working in the airports are not magicians (nor are they at fault). They can not wave a wand and make an airplane show up and take you where you want to go. I have learned that being nasty and rude doesn’t get you very far. I used to be a very stressed out traveler and now I simply watch others failing the same way I did for years.
Keep calm and be patient with the airport employees and the TSA. They still have to do their jobs by a set of rules and safety standards (that may cause you to have to wait a bit longer). Understanding that everything they do, they do to the best of their ability and they are working as fast as they can, makes life easier for everyone.
I will admit that I was not fully prepared for our flight to be canceled. I have no backup for our Christmas plans (yet) but I did buy trip insurance. Travel insurance is different from trip insurance and I recommend both. So as of now, I do not have a plan for Christmas but at least I am not out any money. I will be receiving a full refund for my fights, hotel, and rental car costs.
Airport problems are becoming more and more common. With overbooking to save the airline money and weather patterns like we haven’t seen in decades, having a backup for something important is always a good idea.
I have a habit of emptying out our refrigerator before an extended vacation. There is nothing worse than coming home after two weeks and having to throw out a bunch of produce because it went bad while you were gone. I still recommend using up perishables before a trip but now I have to go to the store.
About a year ago we were traveling through London. We had just spent ten days in South Africa and our return flight was connecting at Heathrow airport. The connection was short (about 90 minutes). Our plane coming in was delayed due to weather and long story short, we missed our flight. We were able to get on the next flight out (about 4 hours later) but this caused a delay in everything we had arranged in Chicago.
Do You Need the Airport
I know that flying is super fun and all but could you drive where you are going? If you can, this can save a lot of headaches. Believe me, I understand that you can’t drive to Hawaii or Jamaica but technically, I could drive to Texas if I really wanted to go that bad. This is also a question for if your flight is delayed. If the delay is long (more than 4 hours) you could store your luggage and go explore the city you are in. If that isn’t an option, you can still walk around the airport.
With the power outage In Atlanta that would have been difficult but this situation is quite rare. With that in mind, a portable charger for your phone is something to consider. If you have no power this can be a lifesaver. And let’s face it, most airport terminals don’t have enough outlets to go around anyways.
Here is a list of things you can do to be prepared for this kind of inconvenience.
- Be nice (it isn’t their fault)
- Don’t panic (this only makes things worse)
- Buy trip insurance (and travel insurance)
- Carry some cash (No card machines if the power is out)
- Pack a portable charger (so your kids don’t go crazy)
- Be flexible (take another flight or change your plans altogether)
- Drive (if you can)
- Don’t leave your house empty of food (only perishables)
- Take something fun to do (that doesn’t need electricity)
- Don’t let this ruin your trip (even if it is completely canceled, life goes on)
Anything I missed? Let me know in the comments below.