Stress Relief Lessons in Air Travel: Cancelled Flight & Stranded at O’Hare Can Result In Unexpected Benefits

I was all ready to get back home and resume my “normal” life, and then, when I looked up my connecting flight at O’Hare, there it was: “cancelled”!

I went to the customer service desk, tried to get them to put me on a different flight, but the agent told me that my chances were very slim to basically non-existent (overbooked by 6 and a waiting list of 20 for a flight on a plane so small that half the passengers had to fail to show up in order for me to get on), so I took her up on her offer to put me up in a nearby hotel.

The part that bothered me most: My suitcases were going to arrive at their destination without me! There was room for THEM on the only other flight to my destination, but not for ME! What a bummer.

Here I had a great opportunity to either blow a fuse and create a stress fest, or take it easy! Obviously, the second was a much better option. Stressing wouldn’t have gotten me on a plane, and it might well have alienated the agent.

So since I couldn’t change things, I decided to make the best of them and enjoy my detour. At first, I thought of going into town to enjoy some blues, but considering my still pretty bad cough, I thought that maybe the blues would have to wait for another time.

Instead, I used my meal voucher for getting the fanciest of the dinner salads with dessert from my favorite gourmet take-out at O’Hare (La Tapenade), and went to the hotel.

As it turned out, a Target was only two parking lots away, so I went there and got the few things I wish I had packed in my carry-on, and then proceeded to enjoy my dinner and the hotel’s not quite free but very good wireless connection. And essentially a free evening that allowed me to relax and give myself a break before I have to face my “real” life again.

After eyeing the various bottles of spring water that sat attractively arranged all over my hotel room with a bit of suspicion (sometimes they turn out to cost $5 each), I finally called the front desk. No, the very friendly customer service person said, those were all complimentary! Nice!

And yes, the shuttle is free too. So now I’m going to enjoy the hotel’s amenities (including their very deliciously scented shampoo) and then catch some zzzzs. I’m sure that’ll help my cough and also ensure I’ll be ready to catch my plane first thing tomorrow morning.

Next time though, I’ll be sure to pack a few essentials I don’t want to sleep without into my carry-on.

Meanwhile, I feel a sense of gratitude: after all, the airline didn’t attempt to fly with a mechanically compromised plane, so I appreciate their thoughtfulness and their integrity in valuing everybody’s safety over their on-time arrival scores!