June 2, 2016

Turning A Flight Delay Into 8,000 Steps

Well, I am really glad that no-complaining month is over, because tonight I had a lot to complain about. I had not one but two flights get delayed three hours each. The kicker was this frustrating conversation:

Me to gate agent: “I know it says we’ll be boarding in two minutes, but the gate is empty. Is our flight still on time?”

Gate agent: “Oh, yes, definitely on time.”

Me: “But it looks like our planned inbound aircraft hasn’t landed yet. Did we get an aircraft change?”

Him: “Hmmm, I don’t think so. Let me see….” (tap tap tap) “Oh, yes, you’re right. The inbound is still on the runway in Kansas City, but it looks like it’s getting ready to take off now. So probably not too long of a delay… maybe an hour, probably less.”

Me: “I just got an alert that we’re delayed two hours. Can you please change me to the next Denver flight, which is showing on time?”

So much for accurate information! The joke was on me, though, when my new flight was also delayed three hours due to a faulty jetbridge and no way to securely deplane an entire plane of people arriving from Mexico. Both flights ended up getting to Denver within 20 minutes of each other, so it seems I would have been better off just camping out in the lounge and keeping my mouth shut.


Ever since some aggressive FitBit challenges with my coworkers, I’ve taken to pacing around airports with a podcast in my ears whenever I’m waiting to board a flight. I started doing that tonight when it looked like it would just be a few minutes till boarding, but the rolling delays of a few minutes at a time meant that I never deviated from that plan and kept walking for a long time.

My coworkers who travel like me know that we get a lot more steps on travel days – and generally just walking from my car to the gate gets me an extra thousand steps or so that I otherwise wouldn’t get in our couch potato world of convenient parking and little activity. But walking with my suitcase while waiting for a flight definitely takes the “airport bonus” to a new level! In the end, I got an extra 8,000 steps in just by pacing back and forth in the gate area!

I was only at 8000-some steps when I got to the airport!

Now maybe it’s my month of no complaining rubbing off on my attitude, but instead of being thoroughly frustrated with the delay, I found myself thinking how happy I was that I could get a lot of steps in while I was waiting. Of course I’m disappointed to miss an event I had planned to attend back in Colorado; however, I’m grateful that despite all the flash flooding in Texas, I’ll still be getting home tonight at a reasonable hour. Plus, I feel great that I maximized my time while waiting!

That positivity has also radiated a bit further: I’ve been incredibly focused and productive this flight, knocking out some work emails, personal emails, admin work tasks, and this blog post. Plus, on the ascent, I finished reading Charles Duhigg’s Smarter Faster Better, a much-anticipated new release that lived up to the hype and was one of the best productivity books I’ve ever read. It was both practical and inspirational – a great combo. Highly recommend it!

How do you deal with flight delays? Are you as peppy and positive as I am tonight? 🙂

(PS – Monday morning I have a really important meeting and will freak out if my flight back to Dallas is late, so I know without a doubt I won’t always be Pollyanna-ish about the annoyances of flight delays. But maybe I should try to be?)


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