If you have flown recently, it’s very likely you have experienced, delays, cancellations and/or schedule changes. More so than ever before. Since March of this year, over 500 737Max planes have been grounded. That’s a lot of planes taken out of service, with no date, as to when they will be flying again, if ever and how long it will take to replace 500 aircraft. Dozens of these planes are sitting in Boeing’s employee parking lot.
Airlines don’t have 500 spare planes sitting around in hangers. They are flying every plane that is safe to fly. However, if the TV doesn’t work, or the seat won’t go back, there isn’t time, to send that plane, out for non-safety related repairs/maintenance. Unfortunately, you’ll just have to deal with it, for now.
If it seems bad now, just think about how Holiday Travel will be impacted. You will have to have the patience of Job, bring lots of things to entertain yourself and the kids. Maybe finally use that Yoga room at SFO. Load meditation tapes on your phone and take lots of deep breaths. Remember there’s nothing you can do, so try to make the best of it. Getting upset with airline personal, who have been dealing with this, every day since March, is not going to make it better for anyone. Random acts of kindness will go much further, than upset rants.
So, what are some practical things you can do to take some of the stress out of flying these next several months? The #1 thing you can control, is your arrival times.
Some of us can remember the days when you ran through the airport and got to the gate 15 minutes before take-off. Those days ended with 9/11. Now minimum 1 hour before domestic and 2 hours before international. However, that can depend on the airport. Some move people through security with efficiency. Others are slower than molasses. TSA PreCheck helps with domestic flights, not with international departures. It’s time to arrive even earlier.
If you fly a lot, you may want to get a credit card that gives you access to airline lounges or sign up for Priority Pass Get to the airport early. Enjoy the lounge, do your calls and emails, there. Have something to eat and drink. If there’s a delay, you are comfortable waiting it out.
International Connections need to be, at bare minimum, 2 hours, 3 hours is even better. In Europe you must go through security again. If it’s London Heathrow, add even more time.
Returning to the US has many variations. Some international airports have US customs there. You are able to clear customs before you get on your flight. You can do that in Canada, Ireland, The United Arab Emirates, just to mention a few. If you are clearing customs before your flight, you need to allow extra time to do that. If your first touch down in the US, is not your final destination, you have to clear passport control wherever you land. Plan 3 hours. Bags can take time to get off the plane, then you have to recheck them for your connecting flight. Several flights can land at the same time, creating a huge backup. Global Entry helps to avoid the huge lines and move you through more quickly.
Your connecting flight could very well be in a different terminal. You may have to take a train to the other terminal and go through security again. I missed a connection in Seattle because our jet-way broke. It took an hour to move the plane to another gate. That extra hour delay, caused us to miss our connecting flight to SFO. We had to wait 5 hours for the next flight.
The good news is airports are getting to be nicer places. Many have great local restaurants, interesting museum exhibits, lovely shops. You can get a massage, a manicure, do some yoga stretches at SFO. Think about it as beginning of your trip; enjoy what is there to make your time less stressful.
Your vacation just started earlier. Who doesn’t like that?
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