What to do When… You’re Stuck in the Airport at Christmas

If you rely on some sort of transport that transcends cars, buses, trains, unicycles, a strong man’s back, and so on, you have inevitably felt the crushing fear of not getting home due to your host country’s inability to deal with a few inches of snow.

Sorry, I mean three whole inches. Of course I sound derogatory. In fact I sound mean. But seriously, after weathering the “storm” in London on the lovely bed I call my suitcase, with the drama and disappointment of flight after flight getting cancelled (my mother’s unyielding efforts on the phone with the Delta people were especially prolific; the woman is a snake charmer), I am wholly disenchanted with airlines, airports, hot air balloons, helicopters, helicopter pads, jet packs – in fact anything that can be derailed by a little precipitation.

So what happens when you are stuck in the airport for an indefinite period of time and the days get crossed off closer and closer to the big 25? You have a number of options.

Harass the airline people. Got a phone? Cool. Call them and give ‘em hell. At the airport? Walk up to their desk and give ‘em hell. Pull every card you have: broke student, family, terminal illness (haha, get it? I’m an awful person), pulling at those heart strings until he or she types feverishly on a computer and finds you a seat on a flight that changes four times with a 12 hour layover in Detroit and lands you home for Christmas.

If instead the airport is in anarchy and all the airline people are conspicuously absent, find a friend in London, Edinburgh, or whatever city you are flying out of. No, do not go to the airport bar and pull some poor unsuspecting stranger into being your sexless landlord. I mean be at the helm of your social media empire and wait for that sympathetic message offering you a warm bed and some treacle pudding. Note: treacle pudding not always included, and bed is subjectively warm according to UK standards of warmth (aka always 5 degrees centigrade less than you think).

If you cannot find a friend, familiarise yourself with the airport because that is your new home for the next 24 hours and more.

Stock up on food and water. The Café Nero people will leave. The Café Rouge people will leave. So STOCK UP WHILE YOU CAN. The winding line out of W. H. Smith can seem intimidating, but all you need is a cardboard box and a stiff elbow. This is a dream junk food situation. Right now your health is not what you need to think about; fill that cardboard box with all the disgusting, processed carbohydrates that you have only dreamed of or only consumed under the influence. Remember to supplement the crisps, hula hoops, [insert other ridiculous name for snack food currently on the market,], with TONS OF WATER. The airport might have a water fountain, but it is guaranteed to have been claimed and conquered already. Buy water. Loads of it.

If the airport is giving out any free swag, GO GET THAT SWAG. This will inevitably just be those silver aluminium foil blankets that make a horrible sound when they crinkle, but they will actually be warmer than nothing when you are sleeping on top of your suitcase to protect your possessions.

Now, this final stage requires one indomitable force to get you out of that airport and into your childhood bed. Having acquired your fortress of charged technology, junk food, and water, sit back on your rolly chair, make sure your suitcases are safe, and call you mother. If she is anything like mine, she will get you a bajillion flights, constantly exhorting you to run to the gate. Yes, there might be disappointments along the way. Flights will get cancelled leading to inevitable tearful tantrums in front of strangers (after the first two it stops being awkward since everybody is on the verge of breakdown at this point). Do not give up. Listen to her. She will get you home.

In the meantime, busy yourself with alternate routes. Can you get a ferry to Dublin and fly from there? Can you Eurostar to Paris, switch to the train to Brussels, then train to Amsterdam and fly from there? You’ll be dope at geography and the general infrastructure of European cities!

Of course, if these steps don’t work and instead you have been shafted irrevocably, go check out London, Edinburgh, or whatever city you are trapped in. These cities are more than their lack of de-icing fluid. Leave the airport if you can. It’ll sure be more fun than hoarding sweets, crying into the phone, and dealing with the nervous tensions of a few thousand disgruntled people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.