So are you ready to finally go home for the December holiday? Well I am here to tell you that if you’re traveling during winter from Stockholm, you’re probably going to have your travel plans disrupted or destroyed. Worst comes to worst , you might even get stranded on the way to your final destination. It can be a frustrating, scary, and disappointing to say the least. So in the spirit of Christmas and love for mankind, I’m here to share my experiences, as well as some tips and tricks to get through it all.
Planning ahead can be a life saver when you’re stressed, and crying in the middle of the airport. First consideration, is to make sure you set travel alerts for your booking. All airlines have some method of letting you know if there are expected weather delays for your flight.
Second consideration is bringing along an adapter the fits the contacts in the countries your flying through. They make these universal ones that work everywhere in the world, but I just have my U.S. , U.K. and EU on me as that’s where I travel.
Another good idea is to pack a refillable water bottle, an emergency snack, tooth brush, deodorant, and that scarf you’ve been using all winter. The scarf may sound weird, but airports are cold, and bright, so it’s nice to have a sleep mask/ neck warmer on you.
When You Find Out Your Flight is Delayed/Cancelled
Someone has just broken to the news to you, that you’re stuck. First things first, be mad , cry, and then take a deep breath. For me this happened half way on my trip home to L.A. Upon hearing this news I was a ball of tears, as this meant that I was going to have cancel my big bridal shower back home. I was absolutely heartbroken. But I blew my nose, complained on snapchat, and then started trying to do something useful.
This delay has probably happened because the airplane people felt like it is unsafe to fly or land in bad weather, or leave with a broken plane. So basically they’re trying to keep you from dying, and even though airport life sucks, at least you’re not dead (#blessed ).
Now that you’ve calmed down, get on the phone to your airline RIGHT AWAY. The flight attendants will often redirect you to a service desk for re-booking (which could be miles away in a big airport), but often there’s a super long slow line, and you can get faster re-booking over the phone. So while I was standing in that line, I hopped on the airport wifi , and Skype called the airlines customer service. This ended up being a life saver, because everyones flights in Heathrow were getting cancelled, and the re-booked flights were filling up at lightning speed.
Know Your Rights
One of the scariest thing when your stranded, is that you feel powerless. But you aren’t powerless, the airlines do have to take care of you. So it is good to know exactly what they are responsible to do.
Here are your rights in the EU:
- For delays of two hours of more the airline must offer you free meals and refreshments, plus two free telephone calls, telex or fax messages, or e-mails.
- If your flight is delayed until the next day, you have to be offered a hotel and transport between the airport and where you are staying.
- If the delay is five hours or longer and you just want to cancel your trip, they have to reimburse you the cost of the ticket and give you a return flight to your original place of departure.
In my situation , the airlines did give me a food voucher of 140kr when my first flight in Stockholm was delayed four hours. When I finally arrived in London , having missed my connection, they did not offer vouchers for my food and hotel, but gave me a paper pamphlet of information on how to be reimbursed for the cost of my hotel (200 pounds per day) and my food (25 pounds per day) .
If you’re like me , and a poor student, there’s no way you have that much money to pay for a hotel even if they will reimburse you. Luckily, I was able to call my parents to book a hotel for me online and pre-pay for it. If that isn’t an option, it is possible and usually safe, to sleep in the airport. In that situation, I usually find a nice corner by an outlet, and make a bed of jackets with my bag as my pillow. This is where that scarf sleep mask super comes in handy.
*UPDATE: Jan 9th, 2017* In addition to the above required help from the airline, it might be possible for you to apply for a flight refund as well. Here is the website in english and swedish that can help you.
Find The Silver Lining
All in all, I found myself stuck in London for a 24hr period. I decided that I might as well take the time to see some sights there and treat it like an unexpected extra trip. My hotel was around Kensington gardens, so I checked out the gardens and the palace. Then walked around the Chelsea and Hyde park areas. In the end , I got a chance to see areas of London I hadn’t been before, and got a bit of exercise before my long haul flight.
Finally you’re going home, for real this time!! Get to the airport early to check in, and make sure your bag got re-routed onto this new flight you are on. Also be sure to save all of those hotel, travel and food receipts if you’re getting reimbursed. No you can finally just sit back and relax. So snap some cool photos for your Instagram, and make it to your destination all in one piece. Good Luck!!!