How to Cope When Stranded on a Plane

Bad weather, mechanical problems, and delays in general can all leave you stranded on a plane. In the unfortunate event that this happens to you, here's how to cope.


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    If possible, avoid the potential of being stranded on a plane. Frequently monitor weather conditions at your departure airport as well as at your destination to ensure that you're aware of any possible conditions that can keep planes grounded. This includes snow, ice storms, thunderstorms, heavy rain, heavy fog, etc. If any of these conditions are impacting the airport or your destination, try these solutions:
    • See if there are any later flights on the same airline to your destination. If the flight is cancelled or suffers a lengthy delay before boarding, you may be able to change flights for little to no cost (depending on the class and airline policies).
    • Have a ticket agent check for flights to your destination on different airlines. While a last-minute booking on a new airline may cost you more, if it is the only option available in the next few hours or even days, take advantage of the opportunity.
    • As a last resort, wait out the inclement weather conditions. In the unusual event that your flight is boarding at the onset of a slow-moving storm, the chances of it being delayed on the tarmac are very likely. It will be worth the inconvenience if the plane does get stranded and you waited behind in the terminal.
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    Understand that your rights as a passenger are very limited. In the unfortunate event that you do end up stranded on a plane, in most cases, there is virtually nothing you can do in your benefit. Unjust as it seems, passengers have often been arrested and taken into police custody simply for attempting to leave a stranded plane without authoritative permission.
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    Keep your cool. When stranded on a plane crowded with impatient people, the last thing you want to have is a meltdown. Don't demand answers or compensation from the flight crew. Instead, stay calm, relax in your seat and wait for further information.
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    Pass the time. If the flight is scheduled to be longer than half an hour, it's likely you've brought a few items to pass the time, so you may as well use them now. Listen to music on an iPod, play games on a portable gaming device, knit, start that novel you've been wanting to read, make a phone call, strike up a conversation with the person next to you, etc.
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    Resist the urge to use the restroom. Unfortunately, the lavatories on many stranded aircraft are often out of order or too foul-smelling to use. If you are able to hold it in, try your best to do so.
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    When you are eventually permitted to deplane, take reasonable action against the airline for your trouble. If the circumstances that kept you stranded were repairable but the airline did not fix them, see if you can get a voucher for a free flight on a different date, or if you don't intend to fly the airline again, demand a refund.

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Categories: Air Travel | Flying Comfort and Enjoyment