Surviving Your Flight – Advice for Stormy Delays

As an avid traveler myself, I have had my fair share of crazy travel situations, especially with how unpredictable the weather can be.... Where does this happen the most? In an airport! Right?! We all know someone who has a crazy story about surviving a ridiculous night in an airport, but what about their advice for next time? Be prepared so that when your flight is delayed, you can travel a little easier. I've rounded up some travel bloggers who are ready to share their stories of how they survived their weather delays and how you can too!

HUGE shout out to all the bloggers who shared their stories with me. Their stories are seriously crazy! Enjoy them so and hopefully you learn something from them too!

Snowing in Boston

Meghan - that's me!

I was so excited recently to go on a trip to visit friends in Boston. I even got to the airport 30 minutes earlier than I usually do just to make  sure I wouldn't miss the flight due to long lines for TSA at BWI. I once almost missed a flight because of the long lines, but that's another story...

Well, this did not go as hoped. I get through security - 30 minute delay. It was snowing in Boston and so there were a reduced number of flights able to leave. That's fine, I head to the airport bar for a terrible margarita. Then another announcement - an hour delay. Still annoying, but I will get in before 1 am so it will be okay. We start boarding the flight, are all settled into our seats, but then as we are getting set for take off, another announcement... The airline has no idea when we are going to be able to take off. It could be one hour or two, due to weather they weren't sure when we would finally be taking off. The airline tells us that we are able to get off the plane, but if they get the green light, then they are taking off and not waiting!

Guess how many people got off - that's right... NONE! We stayed on. I was eventually able to fall asleep using my pea coat as a pillow, but I was so uncomfortable. I woke up periodically as they announced repeatedly that they were still waiting for us to be able to take off. We didn't end up taking off until around 2:00 am! I felt so horrible for my friend who was picking me up. He was waiting for hours for me to get on my plane, then hours for me to land. Luckily, he was able to sleep while he waited. I didn't have as much luck and was stuck in an uncomfortable airport chair on a budget airline for about 5 hours. We landed around 3:15 am and I was not in a bed until 4 am. I was so mad at myself because the whole time, I own a neck pillow and did not bring it on this late night flight! Never again!

Advice: Always bring a neck pillow so you can easily fall asleep on flights - especially when they have a major delay!

Rainy in Hokitika

Sarah from Sarah Sees the World

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Recently my flight home from Hokitika to Wellington following the annual Wildfoods Festival was delayed.

We'd boarded the plane and all was looking good for take-off when the Captain announced one of his instruments wasn't working. We sat on the tarmac a further 10 minutes or so while he talked to the engineer on the phone and tried to reset whatever wasn't working.

We were then told to disembark and head back into the terminal. A new plane would have to be found.
The airline flew in a new plane and crew from Wellington and we only experienced a 3 hour delay (during which time the staff were awesome and we were fed twice (a pack of snacks with a bottle of water followed by pizza, chips, softdrinks and alcoholic beverages).
Being on a day trip to a festival in summer however I hadn't planned on being out into the evening. Additionally it had rained and we were all a bit wet, cold and over it. It was freezing inside the terminal and I wished I'd had some warmer clothing with me as well as my phone charger as my phone was flat!
Advice: Always be prepared for delays with extra clothing and keep your phone charger in your carry on luggage!


Shanghai Storms

Sarah from The Winged Fork 

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My trip to China was an official one for a luxury exhibition in Shanghai; 3 hectic days with 60 meetings, but overall a good experience. On the last day as my flight was in the evening, I headed out for bit of shopping, and noticed that unlike the sunny 3 days before, it was dark and rainy.

Later that day, I boarded my 150-seater flight at 5 pm along with some other international delegates. As we waited for our turn to head onto the runway and take off, we noticed that the rain got heavier and it was much windier too.  I could see some of the larger aircraft taking off and landing.

Our wait turned out to be really long, and we were later informed that due to a storm all the smaller aircraft were grounded.  We could actually feel the entire plane bouncing up and down with the force of the wind. After about 3 hours of sitting in the tarmac, people started to get restless and agitated and we were let off the plane. The attendants asked us to wait outside and promised to keep us updated.  However, that update never came.

The airport was now a mess with all flights grounded, hundreds of people everywhere and no real answers as to where to go. About 10 to 12 of us grouped up and elected 2 of us to find out what was happening. The language was a big issue as the airline/airport staff knew only Chinese, which made getting information more difficult.

The only flight out was the next evening on another airline as our airline only flew alternate days. The airline staff had no clue if the flight was re-scheduled, but we found out from our friends back home that the flight was rescheduled for 7 am the next morning. However, the airline staff had no clue about this.

By 9 pm, we got our luggage back and found out that people were being put up at airport hotels. We decided to take up the airport hotel option, but were taken by coach to hotels an hour away, as the ones close by were full. Upon reaching there, we realized that because of the number of people stranded, getting rooms would be an impossibility, and so hung out in the lobby for a few hours.

Some of us decided that it was better to go back to the airport and wait there, in case the flight was really at 7 am. We managed to get 2 taxis back to the airport, slept on the floor for a while and waited till check in. The counters opened only at 5.30 am, after boarding and waiting for a bit, we finally took off at 8 am, relieved to be going home. Sadly, the few members of our group who had stayed at the hotel were nowhere to be seen!

Advice: Always double check if your flight is really rescheduled! You may take off sooner than you think!

Two Days in Istanbul

Becky from Becky the Traveller

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I was traveling home from Nepal, via Istanbul for my connecting flight back to the UK. It was a bumpy touch down into Istanbul, I did’t really pay much attention.. that is until we exit the plane and it’s snowing.

After a couple of hours hanging out in the airport, I board the next flight, a bit delayed but that’s ok. The snow is falling thick and fast now, wow I can’t believe it. So we just have to wait for a flight slot. We wait and wait, then the announcement comes on that you dread. The flight has been cancelled!

What happened next I can only describe complete chaos. No one in the airport had a clue what was going on.  I gave up on them, sorted a visa and jumped in the hotel queue. Little did I know, that I would be spending the next 2 days in Istanbul with nothing but my hand luggage.

It turned out I was well prepared for my unexpected stopover. I had a toothbrush, deodorant, phone charger and travel adapter. I had been flying back to a cold UK so also had my jacket with me.

Although I do wish that the space I had filled with gifts (4 Nepalese hats, children’s trousers and lanterns) had something more useful. Maybe some more clothes or my lovely warm down jacket. But hey it was a little adventure and I had always wanted to go to Istanbul!

Advice: Prepare just in case. Pack your toiletries in your carry on!

There you have it! Now you know lots of ways to survive your weather delay even before it happens! Come prepared - make your lives easier. Delays can't always be avoided, but some of the stress can. What are some of the things you have dealt with during weather delays? I'd love to hear others stories too!

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  • Amazingly, from all of my travels, I’ve never had any delayed flights from weather like the ones you had (knock on wood). At most, maybe a two hour delay at most and the only time I had a one day delay, I was put in a hotel, which I then went out to explore my unexpected layover. My wife is always the one prepared with the pillows, toiletries and extra clothes and I’m sure one day she’s going to be laughing in my face

  • miieloise

    Excellent advice! I’m never too annoyed when they delay a flight for security reasons – that’s better than taking any risk! Your advice are really good. I always pack items to survive a couple of days (also very useful when your luggage arrive later than you!).

  • That was really smart of you not to get off the plane! I wouldn’t have either! Flight delays are inconvenient, but I would always rather be delayed than fly though a storm. I did that once and really, really hope I never have to do it again!

  • Maegan white

    We have dealt with weather delays as well. It’s always at the worst time! (like 1AM) We remind ourselves to be patient bc we can’t control the weather lol

  • Stephanie Mayo

    All great tips and advice! As a carry-on traveler I always have all my gear with me so thankfully I’m usually pretty prepared!

  • Anna Hammerschmidt

    Weather can be so unpredictable! Those are some crazy weather stories!