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10 Hacks to make your flight delay more bearable

It’s the news every traveller dreads: "Your flight’s cancelled". You’re going to have to spend some extra time (or plenty of hours!) at the airport, but what do you do? From flight delays to flight cancellations and more, this handy Skyscanner guide will help you figure out what to do the next time your flight tracker indicates that something’s gone wrong. Here are 10 useful tips to help you kill time when your flight is cancelled or delayed:

1. Get there early

Generally, evening flights are more prone to delays than those departing in the early morning. And though you may hate waking up too early, be sure to get to the airport with lots of time to spare, in case anything does go wrong. When that happens, you’ll have lots of time to react and figure out your next step. At the very least, you’ll be the first one in the queue at Customer Service.

Arrive early rather than late to reduce the risk of delays.

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2. Know your rights

A lady looking at a piece of paper with a magnifying glass
Understand your rights to reap the benefits available for delayed travellers.

If bad weather has pushed back your departure time a few hours or more, and you’re going to be stuck there for a while, it’s very important that you know your rights. In certain situations, airlines are required to provide for customers in scenarios like this. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to get what’s coming to you and make the best of a bad situation. Some potential perks include food vouchers, complimentary hotel stays, or alternative transportation. Don’t forget to read the fine print!

3. Be ready to move

A couple pushing their daughter on a trolley

We’re not talking about actually moving physically, we’re talking about the ability to think on your feet, pivot, and adapt. Be sure to put a phone, a charger, and whatever else you may need to make alternative plans or reservations – all in your carry-on bags!

4. Get insurance!

Travel insurance papers

Don’t ever skimp on travel insurance! There is a lot that can go wrong on a vacation, like illnesses or lost luggage, and travel insurance helps you avoid the worst effects of these hiccups. While some chafe at having to pay more, the extra expense will pay for itself when things go belly up. One of the most common holidaymaker mistakes is skimping on insurance when you should have splurged a little.

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5. Try some sightseeing

A family looking at a map at the airport

With all that extra time on your hands, you should consider doing some micro-tourism. We’re not talking about getting out into the city; we’re talking about exploring the nooks and crannies of the airport you’re stuck in. From Hong Kong International Airport to Heathrow Airport, there’s always duty-free, of course, where you can stock up on sinful delights like booze and beauty finds, or do some Christmas shopping for the friends and family. Airports have other surprises too. Did you know that Singapore Changi Airport has a cinema in terminals 2 and 3? If you’ve got time to kill, check out a flick!

  • What: Changi Airport Terminal 2 Cinema
  • Where: Departure Transit Lounge, near the Sunflower Garden, Level 3, Transit Area
  • Opening hours: 24 hours
  • What: Changi Airport Terminal 3 Cinema
  • Where: Departure Transit Lounge North, near the Ambassador Transit Lounge, Level 3, Transit Area
  • Opening hours: 24 hours

6. Be social

Misery loves company, so if you find yourself stranded, try making friends with the other travellers stuck there with you. With your shared experience, you’ll easily bond over your misfortune. More practically, you can always split a ride into town with your new friends, potentially saving some money along the way. Don’t forget to be nice to the airport staff, even if you’re feeling grumpy. The delay isn’t their fault, and they’ve been getting it from irate customers all day. Plus, they’re more likely to help out the friendly travellers than the grumps.

Cheap flights from Singapore Changi Airport

7. Bring something to do

Top International Destination

We live in a Golden Age for in-flight entertainment, but travel involves waiting, and airport delays can make the waiting seem interminable. So, don’t forget to bring along something to kill the time. Whether it’s a Kindle loaded with books, a Nintendo DS with your favourite games, or just a crossword puzzle, these activities will help you keep your sanity intact during a stressful time.

8. Take a nap

Man traveling by airplane. Tired passenger sleeping in airport terminal.

If your flight gets completely cancelled, and you’re not near a hotel, don’t despair. Try to find a place to curl up and nap for a bit. For cases such as this, you might want to pack a sleeping mask, earplugs and maybe even a shawl or light blanket in your carry-on bag. This is not the most comfortable way to spend the night, but from time to time, these things happen and it’s better to be prepared. But, if you’re at Changi Airport, why not treat yourself to a luxurious nap at Crowne Plaza Changi Airport?

Book a room at Crowne Plaza here

9. Pack a snack

When we picture our dream vacation, we don’t often imagine ourselves packing a lunch before we leave. However, in the event of a big delay, it could save your day! Fill up your tummy with something wholesome and homemade, healthier and possibly even tastier than some of the airport offerings. You can always grab a pint at the bar after your meal. Don’t forget to drink water too; overindulging in booze and neglecting the H2O will make you feel even worse later.

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10. Enjoy lounge facilities and food

With flight delays getting more common, travellers can avoid the frustration of waiting for hours in vain. What if you’re not in the mood for more shopping or eating? Rather than wander aimlessly around, a lounge booking at SATS Premier Lounge will save you a spot for some respite and comfort from the unpredictability and stresses of travel. Besides massage chairs and shower facilities, the lounge offers a sumptuous buffet spread from local to international delicacies, wines, liquors and beers and complimentary WiFi. Download Ready To Travel app now and enjoy the full lounge access at Changi Airport.


Download the Ready To Travel app to enjoy discounts off your travel essentials:

  • Enjoy 15% off Airport Lounge booking with the promo code: SKYLOUNGE15
  • Enjoy 25% off Pocket WiFi rental for North America, Europe, North East Asia, Oceania plans: SKYSCANNER25
  • Get 10% off all other plans: SKYSCANNER10

Fingers crossed no more flight delays or cancelled flights! If all else fails, start planning your next holiday with the extra time and get great deals with Skyscanner. Book cheap flights, hotels and car rental via Skyscanner today, or download our free mobile app for easy browsing and booking on the go.

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Published on 7 September 2016 and updated in December 2018. Any prices are lowest estimated prices only at the time of publication and are subject to change and/or availability.

Adapted from an article originally written by James Teideman for Skyscanner.
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