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7 Things You Need To Be Prepared For and Survive Being Stranded at an Airport

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With the holiday season quickly approaching, many of us will find ourselves in airports as we fly to our destinations to be with family for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Keeping your family safe while your travel should be a top priority, and these seven things will help prepare you for your holiday travels.

Getting stranded at an airport is the absolute worst! On an American Airlines flight, this very scenario happened and stranded dozens of passengers who had to sleep in the hotel lobby. Most of the passengers said that they were exhausted and still had connecting flights to get back home.

7 Tips That Will Make a Potential Airport Stranding More Bearable

Related: How To Stay Safe While Traveling Aboard

While many like to thoroughly prepare for traveling with all of their favorite traveling accouterments like that comfy travel pillow, forgetting these items might make your worst-case scenario even worse! So here are the 7 things that will make a potential airport stranding more bearable:

1. Know your rights. According to, “the U.S. Department of Transportation, passengers are normally informed of their rights to compensation when they are involuntarily bumped from a flight. If your airline arranges alternate transportation, compensation varies depending on how long after the originally scheduled arrival time that you make it to your destination.” Here’s the breakdown:

  • If the alternate transport gets you to the destination within an hour of your original arrival time, you are entitled to no compensation.
  • If you get to your destination one to two hours after the original arrival time, you are entitled to 200 percent of your one-way fare that day, up to $675.
  • If it takes more than two hours of your original arrival time to reach your destination domestically, the airline must compensate you 400 percent of your one-way fare, up to $1,350. The same applies also if alternate transport is not arranged for you.

2. Inform your credit card company about the situation. If you booked with a credit card, some card companies could reimburse your meals and lodging during these times.

3. Book a hotel right away. In addition, the cited article states, “once you know that you’re getting bumped from a flight, an immediate call to a hotel is suggested. When a hotel knows there are travel troubles, they can hike the price of a stay.”

4. Stay in contact with your airline. Tied up phone lines and a long queue at the counter will most likely keep you from talking with a live airline representative.

5. Have extra money. If you are stranded and given a hotel voucher, sometimes the hotels are filled to capacity and there are no other rooms. You may have to find a room in a different hotel. Plus cash will help you buy food or some water if you find yourself hungry or thirsty.

6. Have a carry-all bag with critical items. There may be no telling how long you’ll be kept inside your terminal. With that, the following items are the most needed: high protein snacks, an empty water bottle, a change of clothes, a warm sweatshirt, toothpaste and toothbrush, headphones, earplugs, phone charger, and a book. Having an empty water bottle will save you so much money because you can fill the bottle up from a water fountain. Bottled water can be pricey at airports.

7. Choose your territory. If you cannot find additional lodging, it’s time to choose a spot in the airport. Look for some space that no one is holding up and get there as fast as you can and set up your domain. If you are held up for more than just a few hours, you better be in a place you can call yours! Get all your baggage and secure the area and snuggle up for the long haul – that travel pillow will definitely come in handy!

BONUS TIP: Take this time to practice your situational awareness skills. This is perhaps the most important thing you can do while traveling, and it applies no matter your destination, stranded or not.

Always pay attention to your surroundings and stay alert! If you are looking down at a map or have your nose buried in a guidebook or your smartphone, you will make an easy target for criminals. Keep your head up, watch what is going on around you, and acknowledge people. Project a strong and aware demeanor. Most criminals look for people who look fearful or weak.

When you enter a new section of the airport, take notice of everything. Notice the people around you. If you see a suspicious person or item, you may want to take action immediately to remove yourself from the situation and possibly notify others of the potential threat. This is an optimal time to spot exits you can take in the case of an emergency.

No one likes to imagine that the worst will happen on a family trip for the holidays, but the truth is: anything is possible. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best!

Share your favorite traveling tip with the community below!

Happy holidays! And safe travels!

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