9 Tips for Surviving While Stranded at the Airport

I was recently stranded in an airport for the better part of two days. It happens. It doesn't help to bitch about it, or try to sue somebody, or start some kind of boycott campaign. The occasional absence of modern amenities is just the price we pay for zipping about the world in logic-defying sky missiles. Think of it like this: The trip I was stranded on was one flying from Oregon to Connecticut. Even including setbacks, I was only out about two extra days. They made an entire video game about how many people died trying to take that same journey just two hundred years ago.

Press "X" to die of starvation!

What did happen was that I missed a day of work and went two nights without brushing my teeth. What did not happen was me dying of dysentery as my wagon flipped over during a river crossing, freezing water laced with my own uncontrollable diarrhea slowly filling my lungs. That's undeniable progress, folks. We have no right to complain about sleeping outside a closed-down airport Chili's for a night or two -- but still, it's not exactly a pleasant experience. That's why I'm here to help you: With a few simple tips and a little preparation, you can make the best of your next travel delay ...

#9. Be Patient

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Look, everybody knows a flight delay is inconvenient. You have places to be and people to see -- by which you mean "home" and "watching Sons of Anarchy on Netflix until that little pop-up window asks if you're really super sure that you don't have anything better to do with your life." Your time is important, at least to you, and of course any derailment of your routine is going to frustrate you. But if your flight is delayed, it's important to keep in mind that nobody responsible for that inconvenience is likely anywhere near you. That asshole pilot who doesn't have the balls to fly through one measly ice hurricane is stranded all the way over in Chicago (it's always Chicago), so taking it out on the nice Eastern European stewardess with the broken radio and the tired eyes isn't going to do any good. Cut Gergana some slack. She probably lost her foot in a civil war, and it's doubtful her country even exists anymore -- she is not going to sympathize with your "ran out of stuff to read" plight.

#8. Stock Up on Supplies

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images

When everything goes right, you don't need to do shit. You touch down, grab your bag, and stroll off your plane with a little bit of secret pride in your heart that our race has so thoroughly subjugated the world that we can jaunt across its entire surface in less time than it takes to watch all of The Lord of the Rings. But that's not what you need to plan for: You need to plan for the two days squatting in the corner of the terminal like a meth addict in an abandoned Denny's. You'll find supplies in the airport stores, but your real-world money is like arcade prize tickets at those places. You'll walk in with two fistfuls of the stuff and walk out with a little pewter ring that says "badical" across the front.

And airport stores are not for necessities. I don't care what your battery life is, your charger stays in your carry-on bag. You are bringing several days' more medication than you need, and always, always with the bear mace. They won't let you bring a can of mace through security, of course, but you're allowed liquids in virtually any mystery container as long as they're less than three ounces. And brother, three ounces of bear mace in a travel-sized shampoo bottle is more than enough to secure the prime spot next to the drinking fountain.

#7. Avoid Airport Food

No matter how much it costs or how good it looks, all airport food comes out of the back of the same inexplicably wet, room-temperature delivery van. Everything is soggy. Always. Even the soup. That $20-a-plate brewpub is serving the exact same moist, vaguely food-shaped protein as the fast food joints. If you're going to eat airport food, you need to buy one of those C-shaped neck pillows and use it for the toilet seat. You might as well be comfortable, because you're going to be starting a new life there.

#6. Stake Out Your Territory

Noir at German Language Wikipedia

The first thing you need to accept is that you might be stranded here for a very long while. So while the rookies will be murdering each other for chairs like a Game of Thrones episode, don't make that same mistake. You can't lie down or stretch out on an airport chair, but you can put plenty of padding down on a floor. While the suckers are lining up to become slaves for Big Recliner, you go ahead and stake out a prime section of filthy airport carpet and start laying your pants out end to end -- yes, even the ones you're wearing. When society's rules are no longer applicable, comfort becomes king. Just make sure that your space is by a power outlet -- those airport-designing bastards are cruel, and they always put the outlets far away from the chairs. The power outlet is power. In every sense of the word. When those iPads start dying, the people will come to you. First you get the power, then you get the women, then you get ... like two women? I'm not sure where else you want to go with this.

#5. Find a Common Enemy

Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1971-091-20 / CC-BY-SA

People will be upset by your phone-charging monopoly at first. Sure, they could just use the "complimentary charging stations" the airport provides, but those things are always situated awkwardly in the center of the terminal and usually super crowded. Plus, some jerkwad crammed soggy pizza into all the battery compartments and now they're out of order. Don't let this discontent get out of hand. You need to find a common enemy to rally your people against, and once that anger is externalized, your citizens will accept virtually any hardship happily. Again, this is not the time to turn on the stewardesses, no matter how tempting a target they are. Stewardesses are powerful, and better swayed to your cause. No, this is not the flight crew's fault: This is Steve's fault.

Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
"Hello, I'm Steven Franklin, and I'll be your scapegoat today!"

That's right: Steve. That smiley bastard from Duluth who proudly announced that he was returning from Africa after doing some "charity tourism." That smug motherfucker thinks he's better than you -- better than all of you. But you'll show him. Your people are strong and will not be crushed by the oppressive condescension of the Steves of the world. The road to destroying Steve will be long and rough, but if everybody just buckles down and deals with the new energy rations, history will remember us all as heroes.

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Robert Brockway

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