Stranded! An Airport Survival Guide

Survival Tips 5-7
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5. Take any plane that gets you closer to your final destination. We discovered this by talking with many gate agents. Even though our scheduled non-stop flights to Boston and D.C. from Miami were canceled, the agent re-ticketed us for a flight that day to North Carolina. Of course, our onward connections from Raleigh-Durham were canceled, but we had made some progress and had a warm hotel room waiting for us.

6. Don't leave the airport without being confirmed on a flight to your final destination, even if it's a few days away. You can be wait-listed on many flights but ticketed for just one. This is crucial. In Raleigh-Durham we stood on more lines until we had confirmed seats for flights on Wednesday and were wait listed along with hordes of others for planes on Monday and Tuesday. Without a confirmed seat, you fall to the bottom of the endless stand-by list.

7. Go back to the airport the next day even though your ticket may be for days later. Situations change and flights open up. Chances are it will take hours to reach an airline agent by phone. Bring your bags with you to the airport, and be polite when checking on the possibilities. Everyone is frustrated and yelling doesn't help. By showing up at the airport on Monday (bringing books and work to do) and re-checking with gate agents, we were moved to late flights out on Monday evening. We called the hotel, canceled the room, boarded our planes, and breathed a sigh of relief.

Our strategy helped. Our delay cost us 40 hours, but others we met at the airport faced four days of being stranded.'s resident family expert Candyce Stapen has written the book on family travel, having authored some 1,400 travel articles and 27 books, 26 of them on family travel. She is the winner of the 2004 "Caribbean Travel Writer of the Year for North America" award and a three-time winner of the Society of American Travel Writers' Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism award. Her articles have appeared in publications including Nick Jr , FamilyFun , Parents , Better Homes & Gardens , Conde Nast Traveler , National Geographic Traveler , and the Family Travel Network , among others. Her book, the National Geographic Guide to Caribbean Family Vacations is available from

Published: 11 Apr 2005 | Last Updated: 7 Nov 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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