As I found myself in the center of mass bedlam, waiting my turn at the airline help desk, there were screams everywhere, swirling about me.

“What do you mean, you can’t book me on the next flight?  I have to be at work tomorrow! There is no choice…I simply have to be there!!”

It reminded me of private practice times in my life.  What would I do?  There is coverage to think about, surgery that may have been scheduled, meetings that I would have to attend.

It started yesterday when I boarded a jet at Heathrow Airport bound to the States from London where I attended a health conference. Boarding was pretty ordinary but the rest of the trip was anything but!

After waiting in the queue on the tarmac for takeoff, the pilot announced over the PA that we would be returning to the gate.

It seems that the computers were out of sync. (sound familiar?)  IT was called and they spent three hours trying to fix and link up the computer systems while we, the restless , tried to remain calm.  For those making a connecting flight, serenity was all but impossible to achieve.

Finally we returned to the queue and after another 25 minutes we were off.  Unfortunately, when we were hovering over Charlotte, NC (a hub city for many airlines), we weren’t given the go-ahead to land right away and the plane didn’t have enough fuel to keep recircling so we were diverted to Raleigh, NC.

So, I thought, I can get a connecting flight from there.  Not bad right?  The pilot announced that there was a medical emergency on board and that everyone should stay seated while EMTs could attend to the passenger.  Fortunately for her, the condition improved because she was inaccessible to the EMTS from outside who were called.

After sitting on the plane for  over an additional hour, the pilot returned to the PA waves.  It seems, the airport that we were diverted to had no stairs or passage to connect to jumbo jets.  The site is geared to smaller planes.

A decision was made to refuel and return to Charlotte and the 40 minute fueling commenced.  Finally we were back in the air.  Forget about making any connections for anyone on board.

After going through passport control and customs, we all queued for booking new flights.  A problem here is that many of the destinations were already booked to capacity and the airline can only give a ticket to an available seat.

This brings up an important message and the question that I initially posed.

Preparing for Travel Problems

5 Tips to Compensate for a Harrowing Trip

  • Plan a Gap Day:  When traveling, always leave a day upon return when you have no professional obligations and make sure that you have coverage for that day.  Assuming everything in your travels goes smoothly, the day between travel and work can be one where you relax  from the hassles of your journey.  It also allows you to prepare for your return to work without panic.
  •  Reading

    Carry a journal or two so that you can catch up on your reading instead of pacing the cabin or airport lounge.

  • Charge:  Carry your phone charger with  you.  After traveling for a long period of time, your battery may be weak and it is just this time that you may need it the most.  Carry an energy stick for additional battery coverage.

  • Phone numbers:  

    Make sure that you have contact information for nursing staff that you may need to inform, dog-boarding services, babysitters, house-sitters and anyone related to your absence and return.

  • Medications: 

    Bring an extra two days of any medications, vitamins and supplements with you so that you can take them when needed or desired on those days that you didn’t think you’d be away from home.

Hopefully your journeys will be smooth and disasters won’t befall you but it is always better to be prepared.

Share your experiences with us and any additional tips in the comment box below.