Flexibility: Be prepared to bend a little.

When we embark on a for pleasure trip, we are often excited, filled with anticipation about the adventure we are about to begin, or the people we are about to see. Whether you are traveling to a place you have never been, or in my case, traveling home to see my family for a special occasion, the feeling of excitement is overflowing and we are generally in a super fantastic mood.  That is, until something out of our control goes wrong and our exciting adventure turns into a little bit of a nightmare.

When we travel there are a number of hiccups that can occur and we need to not only anticipate them but also be prepared for them.  A few hiccups that can come your way are lost baggage, missing flight, weather delays, mechanical delays, or not having the correct travel documentation.  Most of these issues are completely out of our control and some are out of the control of everyone, including the airline.  One of my most recent adventures traveling home to Toronto for my sister-laws bachelorette party was one of those trips where things didn’t go as planned.

After booking my trip, I made sure to assign my seats (aisle of course) for my entire trip immediately, check-in when it was time, arrive at the airport in the necessary time to clear TSA to be at the gate with my carry-on (really the only way to travel) ready for boarding and double checked my connection.
All went smoothly, until it didn’t.  I am one of those travelers that likes to follow the flight path of the airplane when available on the backseat entertainment screen.  Maybe it is because I am an ex-flight attendant and know things can change in the air, or possibly because I am that person that even when traveling to work I like to use my GPS device to see what time I am arriving.  Either way, I was tracking our trip from Daytona to Atlanta and about two-thirds into our trip I noticed that we  did a little bit of a circle and our arrival time had changed.  This peaked my curiosity as I knew I didn’t have much room for error in catching my connection.  We soon received word from the flight deck that there was some inclement weather in Atlanta and landing was not an option.  In addition, we were going to need to land at an alternative airport to refuel and hopefully get back in the air to make our way back to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.  Looking at the time I knew that there was no way that I was going to make my connection.  This was not my first rodeo so I knew that waiting until I arrived in Atlanta to figure out my next course of action was a bad idea.  Utilizing WiFi I determined that there was no other options to Toronto that evening but that their was an early morning flight on another airline that would ensure that I not miss the reason I was traveling home. As soon as we touched down at the alternative airport I was on the phone with Delta making arrangements to get on that early morning flight.  I was so quick that at first the agent I was on the phone with couldn’t see that my plane was going to miss my connection.  I also informed her very politely that although we were unable to land as scheduled, due to weather, we actually diverted to refuel because we were unable  to wait in the air until the airport was cleared for arrivals.  After waiting on hold for an extended period of time and the agent finally receiving word that my flight was not going to arrive as scheduled I barely was able to secure my spot on that early morning flight before having to turn off my phone for take off.

Upon arrival in Atlanta, I was not in a mad dash like the other passengers trying to reschedule their next flights if they were continuing on.  Arriving at the time we did, I suspect that the majority of those connecting missed their connections.  Once I deplaned and in the terminal I checked my email for the confirmation of my morning flight and I scoped out where I was going to hang for the night.  I had been informed that most of the airport hotels were full and leaving the airport for only a few hours to have to return seemed silly.  It wasn’t the first time I had been stranded in an airport, nor would it be my last.  I was super glad that everything I needed was in my carry-on.  I was able to wash my face, brush my teeth, pull out a sweater to keep me warm and utilize my iPad/iPhone charger.  I made friends with a fellow female traveller purchasing a bottle of water and we found a place that the two of us could get a few winks but feel safe.  Surprising enough, the airport is super loud even when there are next to no travelers in the terminal.  Between the cleaning crew, retail & restaurant restocking there wasn’t much sleeping going on.

Before the sun came up I was able to head to the gate of my departure.  After waiting for the gate agent to arrive, I was informed that although I had a confirmation on the flight, the initial airline that I was suppose to travel, had not released me to the new airline.  They informed me that I needed to get in contact with them to do so or I would miss this flight.  In an attempt to ensure I was not going to miss this flight I immediately headed to the nearest customer service area and phoned customer service at the same time, covering all basis.  I was able to get someone on the phone first and my issue was rectified.  Now I just needed to make it back to the gate and hope their were still seats available.  The universe aligned and I made it on the plane to Toronto.  I was the last to board, and was assigned a middle seat but I made it.  Thankfully my trip back to Daytona was hassle free.

Bonus:  After take-off from Atlanta to Toronto, my seat mates asked if I would sit in the aisle seat so they could sit next to each other.

Whether you are a seasoned flyer, or taking your first trip it is important that you understand that things may happen.  Getting angry with the airline employees for something they had no control over, isn’t going to get you any sooner to your destination.  But being prepared and bending a little in a situation that you cannot change, may make a horrible situation a little more bearable.

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