This was supposed to be Sisters Weekend. I even have the itinerary to prove it!
All I wanted yesterday was to hop on my Southwest flight, get my free cocktail for Southwest credit card holder appreciation day and head HOME. In addition to Sisters Weekend, I had planned a family party, a college roommate reunion AND Mama and Papa Flo time.
Instead, I spent roughly 7 hours at the airport watching fellow frustrated travelers as flights continued to be delayed and eventually canceled. Due to several cancellations all the flights were booked until Sunday. Not the best Plan B… or use of my vacation time from work and flight cost for what would turn into a very short trip.
Although I was one of the angry people at Southwest last night, the cancellation truly was weather-related somewhere between NYC and Chicago. After I got over the fact I won’t be going home this weekend, I realized Southwest did a pretty good job of helping me through the situation. Here’s how:
Take advantage of resources – I signed up for Southwest text alerts where I’m updated if the gate/departure time changes. With my current StupidPhone status and dicey service in the airport these texts were a lifesaver. There was also a more mature group of travelers near me that were full of questions about how people found out about the delays/cancellation.
Once I heard of the cancellation I immediately called (800) I-FLY-SWA and had a rep on the phone within 2 minutes. Cynthia was extremely nice and patient as I tried talking into two phones (with Mama Flo on the other). She explained options and I avoided the line of 50+ people at the desk.
Be assertive – I dropped my “loyalty to the airline” card (always have a fantastic experience, why fix what ain’t broke?) and emphasized being a credit card holder. This little mention secured me a courtesy hold on a flight until I could finalize plans. (I later canceled by phone and received a full refund.)
Airport interactions aside, there is plenty to gain from simple people watching. Here’s what I took away:
Say hello – The camaraderie that occurs at an airport is unique. Friendships form over shared frustration, interests or simply cocktails. Who knows who you will meet before boarding your next flight?
Don’t get a leg tattoo – I saw more than I care to count and can honestly say I did not see one that appeared normal. I’m all for self-expressions, but maybe rethink those creativity liberties.
Keep yourself busy – I caught up on writing, had a great call with a rising PR pro, checked into social media and checking in with family and even hung out with a pal experiencing similar travel woes. Had I just sat there focusing on the negative it would have been a much longer and trying experience.
How do you handle a rough outing at the airport? Several hours in an airport taught me a few lessons, any to add?