Surviving as an Airport Refugee

Fortunately I’m outside the U.S. and have been spared this week’s American Airlines MD80 grounding fiasco (and somehow even managed to dodge last week’s United 777 bullet).  It appears that while American really blew the communications on this one, the issue here is really FAA incompetence and c-y-a.

But I couldn’t miss passing along Wendy Perrin’s Top Ten Things to Do When You’re Stranded at an Airport (Family Edition)

10. Go on a family scavenger hunt through the terminal in search of: emergency diapers, juice boxes for sale, a newsstand that has not run out of The New York Times, and an empty electrical outlet.

9. Use the cot and blanket supposedly provided by AA to make a fort. (You can build a wall out of leftover McDonald’s Happy Meal boxes.)

8. Buy ten packs of Starburst Fruit Chews and use all the colorful little blocks to build towers, castles, and parking garages.

7. Ride anything that moves: the train between terminals, the escalators, the shuttle bus to the long-term parking lot. As for the baggage carousel

6. Count the number of red bags you see circling, then the number of blue bags, then the number of green bags . . .

5. Didn’t bring a stroller this trip? While you’re down in Arrivals, rent a Smarte Carte and have the kids push each other around in it. This should kill 15 minutes before it gets too dangerous to continue.

4. Return to your gate via the endlessly fascinating security X-ray checkpoint, where your kids get to watch more bags ride the “flat escalator” through the “tunnel” and practice tying and untying their shoes. This should kill another 30 minutes.

3. Use the $500 travel voucher supposedly provided by AA as a paper airplane.

2. Vow that the next time you fly you will give in and buy the kids Game Boys.

1. If all else fails, ask the Hare Krishnas if they need an extra tambourine man for the next 12 hours.

Now, Wendy does say

If I were one of those stranded passengers, I’d be buying a one-day pass to the Admirals Club for $50 and waiting out the delay in the club lounge.

My own tip? Buy a refundable internatioal first class ticket with the carrier offering the best lounge at your home airport (this really only works at international gateways with airlines offering 3 classes of service). Visit the first class lounge, raid the buffet, take a shower, in a limited number of places you might even get a massage… Oh, then when you get your travel sorted out refund the international ticket. Heh.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. It’s sad that you don’t see anything unethical about your tip. In my opinion, its the equivalent of theft.

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