An airline representative picks up the loudspeaker hopefully to announce I will be boarding any minute. She explains that there is bad weather at our destination and the pilot instead will be landing in Wichita. “Don’t worry. We won’t leave you in Wichita,” she says as she puts down the microphone. What? Wichita?
New travelers tend to panic in instances like these, frightened that their travel plans are not following the print-out itinerary. As I boarded the plane, I accepted the fact that I would probably be spending my Friday night in Wichita. I was actually half excited to call home and say, “Guess what? I’m in Wichita”.
The pilot gets on the loudspeaker, telling us the cruising altitude, flight time, etc. He never even mentions Wichita. Was that woman crazy? Did she intend to have the whole plane thinking they would be trapped in Wichita for the night?
People who travel daily, weekly, or monthly do not succumb to the initial travel panic, as most have heard it all. Last Friday, I never had heard someone say that the airline would not leave passengers in Wichita, while proceeding to not tell you how they will go about getting you to your destination. Sadly, those that do not travel often allow the freak out to exhaust them before reaching their destination. New travelers, here are some tips you can chant softly in your head should any travel plan head south without you on board.
It sounds simple enough, but it may be the hardest tip to follow. When the airline has lost your bag, your plane is delayed, you miss your ferry, you are going to miss your connection, or the last bus of the day in the middle of Bogotá leaves without you on it, don’t panic. Travelers waste their energy getting angry with ticket agents and bus drivers.
Passing through Venice last summer, I remember a major train delay due to some problem with the tracks. Most of the schedules were completely out of sync. A young American guy rushed up to closing train doors with a backpack the size of a small sofa strapped to his back. The fashionable Italian conductor shook her head through the glass doors at him as he tried to open them with the train pulling away from the platform. As the train pulled away, he began cursing and hitting his hands on his head in frustration. Sure, it is frustrating, but I guarantee he made it to Rome later that day in time for the pub crawl.
Things happen and your travels are not always going to be as smooth as sand. Accept the problem and move on. You will get your bag back eventually. The airline will get you another flight if it is their fault. Another train will come. You can’t control the weather in Milwaukee so just accept it.
Always Plan As Though Something Could Go Wrong
Lost luggage ends up being one of the biggest headaches for new travelers, the idea that someone has their bags or those suitcases are floating around somewhere, lost forever. While it does happen that a bag can never be found, that headache does not need to occur on delayed baggage. Always carry an extra set of clothes and necessary toiletries with you in case your bags should be lost. On domestic flights this is less of an issue, but when traveling internationally, it is always a good idea to throw in a change of clothes in your carry-on bag.
People in the Travel Industry May Say Ridiculous Things
The travel industry can be filled with power tripping agents. Sometimes ticketing agents will say something you don’t always want to hear such as your bag is 0.1 pounds overweight and you have to pay $50 extra.
I have had Italian airline workers single me out of a whole plane, while pouring out my makeup and personal items on a table. I asked the woman if I had done something wrong. “No we don’t think you are terrorist. Just random.” Same thing goes for TSA. They will say and do the most ridiculous of things. New travelers may not encounter those crazy comments or power trips on their first flight, but you can bet if you make travel a regular part of your life, your mascara may be fondled.
However, not everyone in the travel industry is out on a power trip. You may find people extremely cooperative, making your travels painless. I once had a pilot on a delayed flight from Florence to Frankfurt park passengers not at the gate but a faster location for making connecting flights. I sprinted to my gate with yoga pants falling down, hoping I didn’t miss my connection all the way back to Denver. Sure enough, I was the last person to board, but if the pilot had parked the plane where he was supposed to, 50 or so people making connections would have missed their flights.
If you do find the opposite, it is easy to blow your top. I know this all too well possessing a redheaded temper. It is best just to bite your tongue and try not to be a hot head. Just like the woman who told a whole plane full of people Wichita was the next stop, those ridiculous statements make for great travel stories.