It’s sort of like winning the lottery, but much less fun.
If you plan on flying anywhere this year, there’s a fair possibility your flight will be delayed or canceled. Like the lottery, the more you play, the more your odds increase. So all sorts of weather, mechanical problems or personnel problems can result in you being stuck in a terminal wishing you were anywhere else.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, nearly 20 percent of 2013 flights were delayed and 2 percent canceled, a figure that seems small until you realize it adds up to 1.26 million individuals taking 6.36 million delayed flights. Throw in the 96,012 canceled flights and 14,160 diverted flights, and you have a sizable group of travelers collectively shaking their fists at the injustice of it all.
Years ago, temporarily high-and-dry passengers would have nothing to do except to sit and stew – or maybe snooze if facing a jumbo jet-sized delay. But now, with our smartphones and tablets, it’s easy to tune out until the announcement that your plane has finally arrived.
Get a head start on the e-book you were planning to crack open on the plane. There are plenty of titles out there, and they generally cost less than the old-school paperbacks you’ll find in the airport gift shops. Or check out thousands of classic titles in the public domain at The Gutenberg Project. All the books have had their U.S. copyrights expire, so anyone can access them for free.
You often ponder to yourself, “Those photo editing programs look like fun, but I never have the time.” Well, you do now. Use the downtime to organize your photo albums. Send your photo library to the cloud with Dropbox or pull some photos out of the cloud and play around with them. Use a social network like Instagram or an app like Photobucket to edit, enhance and share your images. Create a new album of your airport adventure to try out the different filters.
If you’re any kind of gamer, you’ve likely noticed that mobile games are somewhat different than a lot of console games – they’re not as immersive as, say a desktop role-playing game that require hours of button mashing, but they sure are addictive. They’re also designed to be picked up and enjoyed anywhere you travel so they need to be fun foremost, but also have easy instructions and increasing challenges. Free jewel quest games fit the bill perfectly – you can play these for awhile, gain achievements and feel good. You can practically feel your brain growing.
You have the perfect excuse. Or you can call it browsing if it makes you feel less guilty. The airport retail shops may be interesting for awhile, but possibly free wi-fi and possibly a lot of time gives you carte blanche to look for anything that interests you. Delve into new categories at Amazon.
Learn Something New
In November 2013, CNN Travel compiled a useful list of apps for travelers that included everything from foreign currency converters to guides to finding a reputable hotel in a hurry. Of particular interest was iStone, a free app for Apple products that includes 300 useful phrases in 12 common languages. It’s especially designed for explorers lacking great language skills and includes phonetic pronunciations plus the actual audio of how to say it.