But you should never have to. Here are the best strategies for surviving a very long holiday flight delay.
My son’s connecting flight was cancelled and he got stuck in Houston airport overnight. He tried to sleep in the chapel, but security kicked him out. They told him the chapel was for praying only.
In July I had the misfortune that I used Air Canada to enter and leave Quebec. On leaving our flight from Quebec (at 6am) to Toronto was delayed and as a result we missed our next flight. We waited over 12 hours in Toronto for our flight AC8749 to leave. Our gate changed 5 times. Our flight AC8749 did not arrive into Charlotte (NOT DULLES IAD which it was originally scheduled) until just after 12 midnight on 7/18 and therefore missed our flight to Charleston SC. Additionally in Toronto I was told there would be someone from Air Canada to help us with a room for the night because we knew we going to miss our next flight. There was nobody from Air Canada there to meet us. We were supposed to fly out on an American Airlines plane to Charleston but it was already gone. The person closing the door after arriving was a tarmac person and had no idea or even the phone number for customer service. Given it was already about 12:30am we decided we had to sleep on the chairs until the morning. We got another flight on American Airlines AA1657 in the morning OF 7/18 to Charleston (CHS). Canada has a system if you complain to the airline you must get a response. I did file a complaint with Air Canada and this is the response I got."We reviewed your case for flight AC8445 YVR - YXT, on 2023/07/17, and found that the length of delay was under 3 hours. Unfortunately, this means you are not eligible for compensation." Are you kidding me? I immediately responded to this mis-accuracy and finally on 11/11/2023 I received notice that they will refund us $715 that I am still waiting for. While I am ecstatic that they finally saw how we were mistreated, it will never change my mind that I will never fly with Air Canada again
I have. Returning to Dubuque, IA from London, my flight was diverted to Dallas. I asked the AA staff to book a hotel for me in Chicago, because I knew I would not connect with the regional flight 'You can do that in Chicago,' they said. Arriving in Chicago around midnight, the airport was abandoned, no one at any airline desk. I went to the hotel board and began calling; every hotel was booked. I found a luggage cart and put my bag under my head and slept on it until the porter who needed that cart woke me in the morning. It was all very annoying. I now live in Chicago and at the moment, I am booked on a direct flight to Paris this Wednesday and those flights do not leave early in the morning, so I can only arrive 3 hours early at O'Hare and cross my fingers.
We have always left the airport if there is a flight delay to stay at an airport. We are too old to sleep on the floor and the lounges we have access to don't allow you to sleep in the lounge. We had a high status Hilton account so we were fortunate to get a room. We stayed in a Chicago Hilton and slept four hours, which we were glad for. We went back to the airport, where there was another delay. We were annoyed because we could have slept longer!
Actually, whether or not the airline will supply rooms or meal vouchers depends on the reason for the delay. They are not obligated to do anything due to weather, only if it is a mechanical or airline employee issue...the converse is true for the travel insurance. They cover weather related delays or cancellations, but they will require you to submit your claim to the airline first if it was the airline's fault. I travel extensively. Unfortunately, many times, even if either offers a room, it's not worth it leaving the airport , (let's say at midnight) to return for a flight very early the next morning, as it is unlikely that you will actually be in the hotel for more than 4 hours since you have to reenter through security. the airline will purposely push these delays further and further away to create just such a situation So yes, I have slept in the airport.
My night at the Pittsburgh airport was due to logistics. I could get a ride TO the airport for my 5 AM flight at 9 PM without inconveniencing a friend more than the drive. It really was not too terribly bad. I just sat, read my book, dozed, walked around, and dozed. No one bothered me and it beat getting up at 1 AM (or asking a friend to) for the 2-hour drive to the airport.
Thank you for the timely tips! As a fairly seasoned traveler, I still picked up some nuggets of wisdom. I have also spent the night in an airport, but not for many years and hope to keep it that way. We are heading to Germany, the Netherlands and France for Christmas Markets the day after Thanksgiving. Wish us luck! Because of your article, we signed up for MedJet. I have always felt inclined to do that. We finally went for it this morning, after a dear friend of ours used it to fly from Italy to their home in Australia a year ago, when she became seriously ill. It's so scary, but you never know when you're going to need assistance. And, when you make that significant investment, you hope you never need it! Happy Holiday Season to you, Christopher and family, and to all your wise readers from whom I learn each article!
Unfortunately I can relate to several of the situations here. I’ve had to stay overnight at an airport when my flight was continuously delayed, and not canceled. I’ve also had to share a hotel/motel room with strangers due to lack of inventory and reluctant airline staff to get any room accommodations after a flight was canceled late and the employee wanted to go home themselves. It was a lousy situation for everyone.
Now, I always make sure I have travel insurance to cover these situations and at least reimburse the costs when there are these unpleasantries. It greatly reduces the stress level when the airline comes up with excuses knowing the cost will get covered in any event, including transportation to/from the hotel. As with anything travel related, get everything in writing and take detailed written notes for all conversations including whom/when/where/why.
You haven't lived until stuck at an obscure China Airport. Weather and flights are no longer taking off. Slept on a table after much discussion with the other 15 people in our tour with our "Minder".
Don't even ask about the hole in the floor bathrooms. It's memories that makes OTHER airlines NOT a problem that we get upset about.
My husband & I had to spend the night at Logan International Airport (Boston) in October 2017. Our United Airlines flight home to San Francisco was continuously delayed until very late (no crew, I recall) and were NO hotel rooms available anywhere in or near Boston for them to put us up. The airport departure level closes & empties out completely overnight. United gave us cots and blankets, but the only space on the ground floor was next to the baggage carousel-- which runs ALL NIGHT LONG! Very noisy & cold. And the only food available late at night at was a Dunkin Donuts, a very , very long walk away.
About 15 years ago, we were invited to a wedding in Lima, Peru. We decided to go to Buenos Aires and Iguassu Falls first.
After that we returned to the airport in BA to take our flight to Lima. The plane was boarded, but they asked all the passengers to disembark for a short while to fix a problem, which turned out to be failure of the seal of the baggage hold door.
A few minutes turned out to be all night. We initially requested a hotel, but were denied it because, according to the ground staff, the problem would be fixed “any time”. We were given a voucher for a very poor meal for dinner, and later one for breakfast. We tried to sleep on the floor or sitting up on a bench without much success.
The Argentinian passengers were irate, and yelled at and approached the ground staff in a threatening manner. I thought there would be a big fight, but that didn’t happen, fortunately.
Eventually the carrier admitted that a spare part was not available, so it flew an empty plane from Lima to BA for us, and we departed around 7 am. We arrived in Lima in time for a short nap before heading to the church for the wedding. Yay!
Several years ago I ended up spending the night at O'Hare - it was late spring and I had a lot of company, lots of delayed and canceled flights. I stayed at one of the specialty restaurants until they closed around 9, then walked around looking for a likely place to sleep. About 11:30 I heard someone say that American was setting up cots in L Concourse so I hurried over to claim one. They actually included a thin blanket. What I found out that no one warned me about: 1) it can get very cold at night without the typical crowd, 2) some people (kids, especially) will view this as a good time for an all night party and 3) you will be rousted out of your cot at 4:30 am so the airport can get ready for the new day. The only place open at 5 for a hot cup of coffee was a Brioche Doree, which opened early that day - I've been a loyal customer ever since!
Call me Boy Scout, but I would never think of boarding a Plane, Train, or Cruise Ship with less than 24 hours provisions in my carry-on. I always include Computer, Medications, Flashlight, Tickets & Insurance, CASH, One complete change of clothes (including slippers I can walk in), Basic toiletries, and a sense of humor. Sometimes I have been delayed in ways that I can only laugh at.
How?!! How is this even possible in 2023?!! How is it even possible the Government allows the Airline Industry to get away with not providing shelter and food for its passengers?!! Secondary why any passenger would accept this is mind boggling!
Let them pay for transportation, hotel, food, rebook . And they can deduct those expenses from the $80 billion we, we gave them!!
Long story and an issue I might be sending your way. The abbreviated version - AA didn't follow their own policies and would not allow us to board our flight. We had a cruise the next day and AA had no available seats that would get us there prior so we had to scramble to find seats to get to our cruise which included splitting the two legs of our flight to keep our options open since we already purchased tickets for 2 other airlines that were both delayed. In both instances, we would have missed our connecting flight. What was supposed to be a 7-hour trip including a layover, ended up being over 30 hours including spending the night in Newark - in the baggage claim area none-the-less. And it was FREEZING! We made it to our cruise, but it was a nightmare getting there.