How to fly away from all the airport stresses

Published: Sunday 6th March 2016 by The News Editor

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There’s nothing like a wet and wintry start to spring to make you want to hop on a plane and jet off somewhere nice. But with this week’s delays at Gatwick reminding us how annoyingly stressful flying can be, getting away isn’t always that easy.

Many of us have experienced it, or witnessed it happening… you’re at the airport, the boarding gate hasn’t been announced yet, then comes the first announcement that your flight’s delayed, followed by a second – suddenly your blood pressure’s surging, you’re huffing and puffing and looking for somebody in a uniform to rant at.

Yep, it’s frustrating. Especially if the delay means your well-earned holiday is being cut short, or you’re going to be late – or even completely miss – an important appointment.

It’s not always easy – and some things in life are downright annoying – but taking steps to respond with a little more decorum can make a difference (to our own health and sanity). Here are five things to keep in mind…


When we’re already in a state of stress – pumped full of adrenalin, tetchy and distracted – the slightest things can send us over the edge. Making an effort to arrive at the airport feeling calm and in control might help you manage to keep your cool should you encounter delays. So plan ahead for your journey to the airport, allow plenty of time, and try to ensure you’ve had enough sleep and don’t miss meals – all things that will help keep those stress hormones in balance.


Staring at the clock and getting more and more agitated is not fun. It goes without saying that distraction can be extremely useful in stressful situations, so try to have something on hand that will divert your attention and keep you occupied when faced with a long, boring wait. Pack a good book or magazines, colouring book and pens (the grown-up ones!), headphones to listen to podcasts or music, or simply keeping your chargers handy is wise so you can play games on your phone.


That delay is going to feel even more difficult if you start getting hungry and thirsty, but don’t have any water or snacks on you, or any money to buy anything. Of course, if it’s a severe delay, in some circumstances the airline might provide refreshments. But just in case, it’s a good idea to have some cash with you so you can at least remove the addition of feeling ‘hangry’ and parched.


You don’t have to be a fully-fledged mindfulness and meditation fan to benefit from deep-breathing. Unfortunately, none of us can wave a magic wand and fix the flight delay, but we can take some simple steps that will instantly help us feel less stressed. When we’re stressed, we tend to take short, shallow breaths. Simply taking a few minutes to sit or stand still, and breathe in and out very slowly, as deep as we can down into our bellies (close your eyes if you want too, or just gaze at the ground), has a significant physiological response, slowing down a racing pulse, rebalancing oxygen and hormone levels, and helping us to relax physically and mentally.


Why is the plane delayed? Which idiot caused it? Why aren’t they doing more to sort this out?! When frustration bubbles over, it’s a natural response to want to blame somebody for it (and, of course, tell ourselves we’d be handling things differently if we were in charge). Of course, it’s natural you’ll want/need to know what’s causing the delay – but right now, it’s happening, and getting riled up just risks making the experience more miserable for yourself and those around you.

Copyright Press Association 2016

Published: Sunday 6th March 2016 by The News Editor

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