1) Preparation is key! Prepare for the worst, and you'll always be glad you did. When I check my luggage, my carry-on list looks something like this:
- face wipes (or baby wipes)
- cell phone, iPod, chargers
- any meds I need (Excedrin Migraine comes to mind)
- Most importantly, food
2) As soon as you find out your flight is cancelled/delayed/rerouted through the Himalayas, find out what your next step is at the ticket counter. You may get on a flight right away, you may have to sleep at the airport. Above all, be kind to the people at the ticket counter- they have a plane full of angry people to deal with. Also, contact any people who may be waiting for you at home (rides, for example) or anyone who may be waiting to hear if you got home safe. Don't keep people in the dark!
3) Gotta sleep at the airport? No big! The airlines usually keep a supply of flight pillows and blankets in their ticket counters on the ground. Ask for some and you will most likely be rewarded with what you so desire. However, some flights are considering charging for these amenities, so if you like to be prepared (I do!), you may want to pack something that functions as a blanket, such as American Apparel's circle scarf. It's huge, and can be worn around your neck to save space in your luggage. Finally, stake out a good sleeping spot. The ideal spot is comfy, dark and offers the opportunity to hide your valuables. I've slept on couches with my legs propped up on my luggage, and I've slept under phone banks, spooning my valuable carry on.
4) Prepare to entertain yourself and be patient. No matter how tired you are, you will not sleep the whole night. I generally listen to nature sounds (hokey, but covers up the constant terrorist threat advisory level announcements) and try and relax so that I feel somewhat rested upon arrival. Otherwise, I turn to my iPod touch, which holds books, games, movies, music and the internet. You can get a little creative, much like this lovely lady. I generally just lay on the floor, but that looks like a fun option.
5) Final step: Get to your flight on time! Seriously. To help with this, do the obvious: set your alarm. You can also take the less obvious step of making a sign that states what time you need to be awake by, and what flight you are taking. People are really nice in airports and will most likely make sure you are awake for your flight, and this also makes sure that you aren't awoken needlessly by caring citizens who want to make sure you get home.
6) When you get home, enjoy a well deserved meal and some sleep in your super comfy bed.
Happy trails and may you never have a flight delayed more than an hour!