I travel so much, that I have endless airport stories to share. One time I was flying back from Cuba through Paris and my flight was delayed (and I could not check my flight status in Cuba as I had no internet!), and once in Paris I would have made my flight had it not been for the fact that I had to check in my small bag as I was carrying a very precious bottle of Cuban Rum and security wanted to take it from me. I was not ready to let go of that bottled but thankfully managed to be re-scheduled on a different later flight.
Another time, I was flying from London Stansted and I was so happy to be finally going home after a series of back to back business trips that once I arrived at the airport I completely relaxed, forgot to check my flight status and the departure gate, and felt like I was in a shopping mall – and barely made my flight after I heard the speakers calling my name a bunch of times. The irony is that in the excitement go be finally going home, I arrived at the airport almost 4 hours before my scheduled departure time.
Why I always check my flight status
I once almost missed a flight in Argentina because I had not properly read the departure times (let alone the flight status), and although I was sure it was departing at 7:00 pm, it was actually departing at 17:00. Easy to see where I made the mistake, right? (It goes to show that I am an unsuccessful backpacker, I suppose).
The good news in that case was that the flight had actually been cancelled due to a volcano eruption which had caused volcanic dust and sand to fly around, thus making it impossible for planes to take off. Too bad I could not check my flight status online so I could have avoided going to the airport altogether, but I was glad to see that at least I had not just wasted $150 worth of a flight.
If there is one thing I have learned, eventually, that is not to ever forget to check my flight status. I don’t mean the departure and landing times of my flight – which, granted, I also used forget to check as it’s easy to see.
The flight status actually is indeed something that goes well beyond departure and arrival time: it is meant to say whether the flight is on time, whether it is cancelled or not. Having a flight cancelled is enough of a nuisance. It happened to me a few times that I got to the airport and only then learned that the flight had been cancelled due to a variety of reasons.
My episode in Argentina aside, where I was actually happy the flight had been cancelled or I would have missed it altogether, in other circumstances having a flight cancelled is simply annoying. Imagine the huge waste of time (and sometimes money, because in some countries trains are incredibly expensive) of having to go to the airport to learn a flight is cancelled and then either go back home and travel again the following day, or find somewhere to stay for the night, until the next flight departs. This is why I always check the flight status: at least if I know a flight is cancelled I don’t travel all the way to the airport for no reason.
But that’s not the only important reason to check about a flight status. In an ideal world, we would all be taking direct flights from the nearest airport. If only that were true! The thing is, I live in Cagliari, Sardinia, and all (by which I mean all) intercontinental and long haul flights go through Rome, where I have to board a connecting flight. Now, that would not matter if everything ran smoothly and all flights from Cagliari were always all the time, right?
The harsh reality, however, is that not all flights are on time. Add to this that the layover is at times really tight, and that I am usually flying through Rome Fiumicino airport which is fairly spread out, and it is easy see why knowing my flight status is of relevance. A few times I have had to literally run from one terminal to the other – like the time my flight from Atlanta landed in Rome really late and I barely made my connecting flight.
Other times, the airport appeared to be better organized and I found someone waiting for me at the gate, ready to take me through the terminal on one of those electric cars (hey, they are really cool to ride and I felt like a VIP) so that I could board my connecting flight. Good thing I was only traveling carry on, because there was no way a suitcase would have made it to the next flight.
I have learned from those experiences though. I now always try to make sure that I have enough time between connecting flights, especially if I have checked in baggage. I hate rushing through airports, even more so when I have to go out and go through security again (which is true in most airports, even for connecting flights). And more importantly, I have learned that I always need to check my flights status.
The flight status may allow me to see trends in departing and arrival times of flights. This way, I can see if a flight departing at a certain time of day is often late or not (early morning flights are usually on time, whereas delays tend to accumulate during the day). And if, through the flight status, I see that there is a trend in certain flights being late, I may wish to reschedule for an earlier one for my peace of mind, so that I don’t have to worry missing my connecting flight.
That’s what traveling so much has taught me: certain unpleasant circumstances can be avoided simply, by checking the flight status.