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April 23, 2014

While Waiting For Your Delayed Flight

So you arrived at the airport terminal 3 hours before your flight because yo wanted to avoid the traffic and the long queues at the check in counters. Then while at the predeparture area, you start hearing that dreadful announcement, "your flight will be delayed due to blah blah blah..." You look at your watch and realize you have another hour and a half of waiting for your flight. What do you do? 

You can rant about it, complain to the ground personnel or ask questions which you are pretty sure they can't and won't answer anyway. There has to be a more productive way of waiting for your delayed flight, which is actually a more common phenomenon while in the Philippines.

It has to be said though that our Philippine airports are the worse place to wait for a (super) delayed flight. I wouldn't mind waiting for a delayed flight if I am in Changi airport or Dubai. International airport. There is so much to do and so many places to go to while inside their airport cum mega mall. Thus, if you find yourself in a Philippine airport, whether it is NAIA or any domestic airport, the waiting can be agonizing. Or maybe not. 

To make the wait less tormenting, 

Tip No. 1: Distract Yourself. This is where your cellphone or iPad can come in handy. Make sure that yo have enough apps to entertain you while waiting for your delayed flight. Puzzles like sudoku or the now popular 2048 game which I find very addicting can keep your attention for hours. There are other dependable games like Plants versus Zombies or the now rare collector's item Flappy Bird. Or you can take it slow and just pretend to be a farmer and sow and harvest in FarmVille or any similar game. 

Tip No. 2: Nap. Nothing beats sleep time. It's like fast forwarding some lull episodes in your life through REM cycles. It can be uncomfortable sleeping inside an airport terminal but when the body has to go, it has to go. The key word here is Power Nap. You cannot go into deep sleep unless you risk being left behind by your plane which has happened to some people. You might want to bring a neck pillow with your carry on bag. Of course nothing beats sleeping on your travel buddy's shoulder. 

Tip No. 3: Massage. There are spas and massage corners in our airports, at least in most of them. Some are massages provided by blind masseurs. The price can be costly but a good 30 mins or 1 hour of body massage can actually make you forget about your earlier rant. You can choose to do foot massage or a head and scalp massage. I would prefer an upper back massage.

Tip No. 4: Read. I think it is imperative to bring a book or e-book while you are traveling. It can be your old time favorite pocket book or that old book you have been wanting to read but couldn't find the time to do so. Reading can distract you from the stress of waiting. If you haven't brought one you might want to visit a nearby book shop which is usually found in major airports. You can buy a cheap book or browse over some magazines. You can bring or buy the day's newspaper to keep you updated. 

Tip No. 5: Surf. Most airports provide free wi-if and internet albeit slow. You can access the airports free internet service and browse the net. Check your Facebook or tweet. Browsing the web can be  a good distraction. Watch a movie or video clips at YouTube. If you have spotify in your iPad or iPhone you can listen to any music for free and even create your own playlist. 

Tip No. 6: Write. If you are keeping a daily journal or blog, maybe it is time to write. Write about anything. Write about what you are currently feeling. Write about your interest. For example, I am writing this blog entry while waiting for my delayed flight. :-)

Tip No. 7: Eat. Really, there is no stopping this one. Food inside airport terminals can be very expensive. A full meal with rice may cost you 200 pesos which you can buy for 60 pesos actually if sold outside the airport. Some small kiosks would sell rice toppings for 100 pesos but this does not come with drinks. You might need to shell out an additional 25 pesos or 80 pesos to buy bottled water or a soda. 

Tip No. 8: Conversations. Nothing beats having real conversations with real people, face to face. If yo are traveling alone, try getting into a conversation with a stranger or a solo traveler just like yourself. You may ask for tips or advice regarding your destination from a home bound local or share expectations and plans with a fellow first-time traveler. For all you know, a simple conversation can lead to an expansion of your social capital. 

I hope that in the near future the Philippine government can do something about its airports and other ports of entry that will make them more traveler-friendly. Of course, this will require a lot of investments but if we are to market the Philippines as the next hot tourist destination, we've got to do something with the first thing they we will see: our airports. 

Meanwhile, authorities and airlines must work together to ensure that delayed flights are a thing of he the past, an exception to the rule rather than the norm like with some airlines. 

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