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10 Tip Survival Guide: Stuck in the Airport for 24 hours

It started when I landed at 4:15pm in Dallas on Wednesday, July 10. The plan was to be landed in Grand Rapids at midnight …well life had another idea in mind.

Once I finally boarded at 4pm on Thursday someone asked me where I came from and I said Palm Springs yesterday at 4pm they questioned my response. I said, “No you heard me correctly I’ve been in the airport for 24 hours.”

Their response, “I can’t believe how good your spirits are.”

I thought about it and reflected-how the heck was I in such a good mood and what did I do to keep my spirits up?


6:24pm gate change and departure change

7:02pm departure change

7:06pm gate change

7:25pm gate change

7:31pm departure change

7:45pm terminal and departure change

7:48pm flight cancelled

7:50pm stood in customer service

Reason for cancellation was due to thunderstorms and it seemed myself along with several people in line had trouble getting access to internet as well so I waited in customer service for 1 hour and 15 minutes. I was told no flights were going out to Grand Rapids before 4pm. I was told every flight to Chicago and Detroit had also been booked for tomorrow as well. I was given a number to get a discount on a hotel room.

This puts me at about 9pm

I left the line with a flight booked the next day and called the number. A few minutes later I paid for a room and had a confirmation number. I was told to not leave the airport until I talked with someone on the phone from the shuttle service to pick me up as this person told me the airport was shut down and if I left I couldn’t get back in.

I tried calling the shuttle service 3 times and it kept ringing-no busy signal just ringing until Verizon made a statement along the lines of no one being accessible and it would hang up.

I got back in the customer service line.

It’s now about 9:15pm

1 hour later I am next in line and someone comes up in front of me very upset and angry and cuts in front.

I took a few deep breaths.

When I got to the counter I first thanked the lady for all of her hard work and patience because I can’t imagine what it has been like to be in her shoes. I shared this is my second time through customer service and that I am just trying to get out of here just like she probably wants to leave too-she tried calling same response I was getting. She had sit next to the desk and told me to keep trying to call for another 30ish minutes.


I get a hold of someone and was told I do not have a room as it’s not possible since they are full and that I need to call to get a refund. I shared my confirmation to confirm this was true and I received the response, “I see your name on the list. There is no possible way you have a room here I’m not picking you up.”

Instead of going in the customer service line I stood aside the lady I had talked with and she was appalled and gave me another number to call to try and get a refund.


Started talking with someone and confirmed my refund in 5-7 business days.

Ok. Now what?

I’m here in the airport it seemed pointless at this point to look up any hotels or air bnb because by the time I would find one and get there I would get a few hours of sleep and then have to be right back at the airport. Plus the only thing I could get to work was instagram-that wasn’t going to be very helpful.

This was going to be my home for the next almost 24 hours as my boarding was going to be around 3:20pm

How did I get through the next day here well….

1. Observe

When I question now what I looked around. I saw a lot of angry people, customer service in distress and long lines. I heard someone say behind me call a little girl an artist and I turned around to see a little girl making art on the floor. I walked over and shared how I heard she was an artist and I was too-we started showing one another our art pieces and making art together.

2. Make the best of what you got

I looked around again-so much distress and I thought I’m just sitting here what can I do to make this situation better? I asked the lady who helped me for a sheet of paper, she pulled a sheet out and proceeded to rip a little corner off-I thought ooo this isn’t going to do. Instead I was able to pull a piece of paper from my watercolor book and I started to rip it up in strips. I looked at the little girl, and asked her if she wanted to help-she jumped up and said, “YES!”

3. Connect

Together we wrote notes and little thank you and empowerment messages to customer service where she drew smiley faces and helped deliver them. She brought these messages to some people where some shrugged and others gave her hugs as she returned we high fived and plotted our next message. When the messages were all gone we bonded over art making and she challenged me to do the splits (lets just say this is not a strength of mine) and she taught me how to floss where she said I needed lots of practice. Then her and her family found out their flight was cancelled and off they went to customer service.

Once she left a gentleman who was sitting by us started to engage in a conversation about art. He’s a farmer and he discussed a grant he had written to do an art piece called “this is my art” displaying various art forms from images of farming and farm to table. Then soon he had to leave for his flight.

Another lady joined me where I learned her daughter with her was also an artist and had just went to Italy. I had also studied art history in Italy and we quickly became friends.

Then I joined a lady at table and I decided I was not going to fall asleep-being a female solo traveler while the airport was filled with sleeping people I decided it was smarter to just stay awake. So I started painting-actually did three paintings that night. During the night two other ladies traveling solo joined me at the table and we chatted all night where one lady got up and found blankets and then when she left for her flight she surprised me by bringing me a cup of coffee from Starbucks before she left.

4. Environment

I decided I was not in the right mainframe to do much work besides rescheduling my appointments I originally had that day and getting to a few emails. I thought I was going to be here a while I might as well get to know this place so I gave myself my own tour. I learned:

Terminal B has 3 BBQ restaurants and the Chapel

Terminal D has a lot of art including a sculpture and mosaics on the floor. It also has all the bars, from a featured brewery, wine bar, whiskey bar and candy bars.

I got to know the skyline pretty well too and made friends with lots of dogs on the ride

Terminal E has a yoga studio, even provides an enclosed space and mats as well. It also has a gaming center by gate E16

Terminal A has fresh seafood and two little cafes plus a bakery that takes you away from the bustle and hustle of the airport

It was about 8:45am

That’s when the tour stopped. I learned there was a flight going out to Grand Rapids that morning at 10:20am. So I approached the desk and joined standby.

I dozed on and off in the chair as I waited and did not notice any groups of people who left. I looked at my phone and realized it was 10:30am and hadn’t heard anything about boarding. I inquired at the desk and learned the gate changed and they didn’t announce it because they figured people had gotten a text message.

So the tour continued…..

Terminal C honors all thing patriotic

And the tour was done.

5. Fuel

So it was time for some snacks and some water bottle refilling to keep me going

6. Friends and Family -Support

I texted a few friends and called my Mom to tell them how much I missed them and I can’t wait to see them along with some venting. They kept me sane as I laughed about what the heck was happening to the day.

7. Surprise

It was getting closer to the time of my flight and I go to my gate where I sat in a chair and I see a couple getting a ride through the airport waving like they are leading a parade in a chariot and yelling “Good afternoon we’re coming through!” I couldn’t help but smile and laugh. Then a girl came up to the guy next to me for an autograph. I looked over and realized this guy was with a soccer team-and honestly with the help some friends and google I realized it was the Coach of Leon FC.

8. Fortune

I realized I ate a meal a while ago at about 8:45am and a few snacks so I decided I should eat some food and usually I try to find some healthy option at this point because I hadn’t eaten the greatest recently but when I passed Panda Express I thought the universe may have a good fortune for me so I found myself in line. My fortune read: "Your troubles will cease and good fortune will smile upon you"- these words so fitting!

9. Sweeten up your life

I received a message my flight was going to be departing now later and boarding was at 3:50pm and I figured by the time I leave it will have been at least 24 hours in the airport. I needed to take emergency protocol and decided to run the rest of the day on Dunkin and went for a caffeinated and sugary iced mocha. I didn’t know how much sweetness was left in my body so I figured hey so I don't get bitter I need to sweeten myself up.

10. Rest

I found out my gate changed and I made my way there then sat down. I looked around and thought, what just happened the last 24 hours? I carried my blanket around with me all day like a Linus, wrapped myself in that blanket and closed my eyes. I rested for about 20-30 minutes and then it was time to board.

On the plane the lady next to me was the one who asked where I was coming from and she was the one that was impressed with my high spirits. Was it frustrating at times? Absolutely but I was able to do the best I could with what I had. I noticed the distress people were going through and how dim their lights had become and while mine was not so bright itself I thought well if candles can help relight some lights then just may be someone’s will get brighter too and I can’t help but think it also kept my light going as well.

So here are your 10 tips again:


Make the best of what you got




Friends and Family -Support



Sweeten up your life


Happy Travels!

Author: If you want to know about me you can read my bio on Psychology Today or contact via email:

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