Everyone knows how annoying and stressful it can be when there is a problem with your flight. And the annoyance is 10x worse when the airline refuses to tell you what’s really wrong.

It is not unheard of for a plane full of passengers to get stalled on the runway for hours, while flight attendants and crew keep affirming: “Only 30 more minutes!” Whether it is the weather that’s bad, or there was a mechanical malfunction, or if you were forced to miss your connecting flight, airline employees can be downright Kafka-esque in their tight-lipped withholding of information.

Here are some basic principles to consider before even arriving at the airport:

  • When you can, always try to book non-stop flights. The more connections you have, the higher the chances are that you will run into trouble.
  • Posted flight times are often estimations at best. So be mentally and emotionally prepared for delays.
  • Check the weather forecast. If there is a storm brewing on your flight route, you can almost certainly expect delays.

If you are at the airport and stuck dealing with a last-minute change, try working multiple avenues at once. While you are standing in line to talk to a ticketing agent, you should also be on the airline’s app, scrolling through “plan B” itineraries. Arm yourself with as much knowledge about your options as you can!

Occasionally, the worst will happen to even the savviest business traveler: an airline representative will tell you that nothing is available. Nothing? Really, nothing? Here’s what to say when this happens:

  • Acknowledge that whatever the circumstances are (canceled flight, snow storm, etc.), the situation is irregular. The problem is surely frustrating for everyone.
  • Suggest alternative routes, which you resourcefully researched for yourself while standing in line. But also be prepared to compromise.
  • Don’t be afraid to whip out your credit card. If you are looking at potentially spending the night on the airport floor, spending a little extra cash to open doors faster is not the worst thing in the world.

Read more about real-life and behind-the-scenes travel industry drama on our blog.

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