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The 5 Emotional Stages of Enduring a Flight Delay

January 27, 2014 at 10:35 AM | by | ()

January 2014 has been quite the banner month for travel disruptions, with thousands upon thousands of flights delayed or cancelled. And the month’s not even over yet!

On the bright side, at least all this weather-related trouble has likely toughened up casual flyers and instigated some good travel practices, like checking flight status before leaving for the airport and considering itineraries that avoid airports prone to winter weather warnings.

Still, there comes a point at which nothing more can be done but to endure the delay and hope Mother Nature rejoins your side. For times like those, we present the 5 stages of Flight Delays*

· Denial
Denial’s not just a river in Egypt, but that familiar feeling that, despite The Weather Channel freaking out and departure boards lighting up red with cancellations, that somehow your flight will still be fine. It’s all good—no worries so long as your status reads “on time,” even if your 6th sense says no way, no how.

· Taking offense
This can’t really be happening—your flight did end up among the delayed. It’s almost like the airline is targeting you specifically, because you’ve had a rough day/week/year and why can’t just one thing go right? Does Mother Nature care about you at all? Why do you feel so alone in this dilemma? Won’t anyone help, or show even a twinge of compassion?

· Anger
You’re never flying again! This is the worst thing that’s ever happened, ever. You’ve never dealt with more incompetent people and the airline operating your flight is never seeing the inside of your wallet again. In fact, this whole situation is outrageous—how dare an airport in a location with real winters not have the runways cleared and operations normal when the radar looks threatening? Perhaps you’ll head to the airport bar for some commiseration.

· Bargaining
You’ve been to the airport bar. You’ve waited what seems like a reasonable amount of time before giving your flight a second go. First stop is the gate desk, where one poor airline employee is fending off travelers still stuck in step 3 (anger). “Perhaps you can re-route me on another, operating flight,” you ask. Unable to have that wish granted, next stop is a phone call to the airline, where you’re met with a hold time of “45 minute or more.” Not worth it. Final stop is an airport hotel, where you’ll attempt to negotiate a last-minute discount rate despite their being nearly at capacity.

· Acceptance
Finally you take a long look at your day and realize it’s not the airline’s fault after all, and that the flight crews and gate agents are worse off, and there are hundreds or thousands of other travelers in a similar situation as you and the world hasn’t ended. So long as there’s a warm bed and the promise of a future flight, it turns out that flight delays aren’t that hard to handle after all.

*(This is an updated and more detailed version of our original story from 2008)

[Photo: Jaunted]

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