Ever have to spend a night in an airport unexpectedly? There are a few things that you need to know.
I can now promote myself as an expert after my recent all nighter at ATL. On my 3 leg trip back from Spokane this past Monday I found myself in that unwanted situation – flight delayed until the next morning because the runway lights at the Asheville airport were not working.
Yes, you kind of need runway lights to land, especially at night.
If I had gone to a hotel I would have gotten maybe 3 hours of sleep . That is if I could sleep. So I opted for the “just stay in the airport” option.
So this is what I learned.
Be aware of your safety. I buddied up with a bunch of other folks on my plane. We hung together and even though we were strangers at the beginning I made 30 some friends by the end of our adventure. We watched luggage for one another, got coffee for one another and just generally kept each other informed of updates.
Sign up for alerts from your airline. I get current updates on my phone from Delta both by email and by messages for things affecting my flights. I was one of the only ones in the group that was getting the gate changes and time changes before the gate agents were even announcing them. It helps to know what is going on.
Airport maintenance occurs between the hours of midnight and 5 am. It makes sense. Do construction work when the airport is least busy. Unfortunately for us the major renovations (have you been to ATL lately? ) were occurring in the A concourse where we spent most of our time. We had to dodge ladders, lifts, hundreds of construction workers, bathrooms were closed and there was a lot of noise as well as flashing emergency strobe lights. If you want to sleep this is not the place.
If you need food get it early. Most of the shops and restaurants close by midnight and don’t open up again until 6 am or later. If you are hungry grab something early.
Ask your airline for blankets, pillows and snacks. Delta was happy to give us all some nice blankets and pillows as well as had lots of snacks and waters available at their Help counter. In the morning before our flight took off they had huge containers of coffee, yogurts, pastries, fruit and more for us as we waited to board. The delay was not their fault but they took the responsibility and knew that passengers with coffee are happier than passengers who have been deprived of their early morning cup of joe.
Try to remain positive. It isn’t easy when plans change but honestly – it’s just life. (Hmmm. That sounds familiar.) Realizing that some things are out of my control is the best way for me to deal with things like this. By CHOOSING to be positive in a less than wonderful situation I was able to support others who had less knowledge of how these things work. Now I admit that the 4 gate changes had me a little miffed since we ended up, as I had predicted, back at our original gate where our plane sat all night, but I hope my attitude was better than the majority of passengers. Bottom line. We made it home safely 8 hours late.
My go to advice is always this. Pack an extra pair of underwear. In your carry on. Because things like this happen. Air travel is not perfect but I always feel better knowing that I have clean underwear for some reason.
Oh and next time I am going to do this because then I will go viral. Come on – this is genius, don’t you think? Hat tip to Ann for the link.