Monday, January 16, 2012

Marcy's Travel Blog- Turning Airport Delays Into Adventures!

This is another "once upon a time" story, though not that many years ago.

The flights were all delayed! Snow blew as ground crews desperately tried to clear the runways. The wind was so strong that snow was recovering the runways as fast as they were clearing them!

I sat at the gate, waiting for our delayed aircraft to arrive. I was part of the  crew waiting to work the inbound aircraft to San Fransisco. The announcement came over the loud speaker- there would be an estimated three hour delay! .

The  passenger tensions were immediately mounting! "When would the airplane we were suppose to take land? Where was it now?? What if it can't get in? Don't you have a spare? When would it take off? When were we going to finally get to our destination?" Some were yelling at the gate agent, who looked a bit like a trapped animal!

It was not a pretty sight!  Often, when the weather goes bad, the airline gets blamed. Though the air crafts are equipped with the latest technology, dangerous landing conditions are just that. Mother nature has the last say!

A family of four, Mom- Dad- and two young children were in a huddle in a corner of the boarding area. I heard the children yell "YES!". Then they proceeded to go to the moving walk way that was situated next to the gate area. The children and father walked the moving walkway quickly, and yelled "ONE" when the got to the end.

I asked the mother what was happening. She told me that the kids were getting restless, so they were promised they could to go to the airport  McDonald's if they could walk the moving walkway 10 times- counting correctly. She said this would be a special treat, because they don't normally get "fast food".

I asked to join them. The father and little ones grinned and said "Sure"!  (I figured it was more fun to get some walking in then to listen to people loose their minds at the gate area!)

Down the walkway we went. The little girl was about 5 yrs. old, with her brother being around 3. When they'd get to the end, the big sister would whisper the correct count in little brother's ear- and they'd both shout out the number!

Now we were at #5, walking quickly- when we were joined by a gentleman,  I'd say was in his 60's. We got to the end, and he shouted out the number with the kids! Unbelievable! The people at the gate were all watching now. A couple said "That looks like fun!" and joined us! Some of the people in the gate area couldn't help but grin as the children plus adults yelled #6!!

A young man who looked like a college student joined in for #7-#10. The father then asked "Where are we going?" to which the children shouted  "MCDONALDS"!!! (I'm not sure- but I think at least one adult shouted it too!) They all laughed.

I watched while this family, plus some new found walking buddies headed to McDonald's. The tension at the gate seemed to have dissipated!  A few people wandered off to other airport restaurants, I got my exercise in, and the gate agent finally got a break from angry passengers.

I don't know if those parents ever realized that their creative handling of a long delay actually made the situation better for all who watched.

Rule of thumb: -Stay cool.
                          -Even with today's technology, Mother Nature has more say.
                         - If it's out of your control, go with the flow!
                          -Know that it will all work out.
                          -Be creative in finding ways to handle a tough situation!
                          -Even make it fun!

One of my very favorite Flight Attendant friends use to take the time during a long delay to wander the concourse, looking for people in need of help. He would passing out junior wings to the children, help people find gates, and answering questions. I always felt honored to go along on those walks. He would brighten up so many people's day! And it felt GOOD! A smile- a helpful comment- a little gift of junior wings for the children- helping the elderly get a wheel chair or help to a gate-- all brightened someones day. To do something positive in a negative situation seems to create positive within ourselves! It was energizing!

For the parents of the family who came up with a fun game for the children- and those of us who chose to join in - I say BRAVO!! They were wise and creative parents who taught not only their children- but an entire group of people- that life can be an adventure-- even with a three hour weather delay!


theshaun said...

Bravo too you too for pointing the obvious: life can turn on a dime, and hopefully people wil choose the positive not the often negative......

Jim said...

A good place to check for airport delays is