What to do if you are stranded on Thanksgiving?

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by our partner, Philippe Scheimann from SOSTravelers.com on what to do in a situation where  you’re stranded while traveling during Thanksgiving. The article provides tips on what to do if you’re stuck and still want to carry on your travel plans.

Thanksgiving is happening this week in the US. Thanksgiving day is a historic tradition of celebrating with family, friends, food, and giving thanks for all the good we have in our lives.

Hence, this is one of the busiest period for traveling, especially this holiday is concentrated within a few days so that there is not much room for flexibility.

Let us review the various tips the SOStravelers team has gathered around the Web as well as our own tips.


Preparation – Before leaving

1. Book your tickets now / yesterday

Well, if you have not done so yet, you will have to be very creative to find some solutions online or have your travel agent work extra hours!

2. Look into alternate airports & Ditch connections

If your favorite airport does not provide you with some solutions, you may as well look around, even drive for several hours and get a seat in a flight from another airport. This may require additional connections.

3. Back and forth on Thanksgiving Day

Consider flying on Thanksgiving Day and coming back the very same day: travel on the big day. You will have more chance to find a deal if you come back the very same day. It does not look so enjoyable to have to leave just a few hours after you’ve arrived. However if this is the only way you can do it, then consider flying back the same day.

4. Give yourself plenty of time

Give yourself plenty of time: leave earlier than you think you should.

If you can afford, then leave earlier and turn this holiday into a longer one.

5. Extra fees

Consider paying some extra fees to make the trip more comfortable. In the situation of Thanksgiving, it is best to pay some extra fees to enter first in the plane, quick boarding, select your seat and more.

6. Make peace with the price

Clearly, it is not the time when you can save on the plane tickets. Just face it and make peace with the price. You may be able to save on other items such as making last minute online sales.

7. Bring your iPad/tablet/web device

Consider bringing with you some web devices that will help you in various ways. Use the extra time that you have to work, make some last sales online, read, check interesting content. Last but not least, you will definitely need it in case you are stranded. We’ve provided some explanations in previous posts: howtoempowerstrandedtravelers’ and see the crisismanagementsection of SimpliFlying.

8. WiFi

Make sure you have a WiFi connection even if it means paying a premium.

What if you are stranded on Thanksgiving

Once you hear or learn that your flight has been delayed or cancelled, there is a number of steps you should consider:

1. Consider the social dimension of Thanksgiving

Since Thanksgiving is all about gathering with friends and family and since it looks like you will not be able to make it, then we suggest the following.

The idea is to take advantage of all the social dimensions of the so called social media networks such as Facebook, Gowalla, Twitter, Google+ and more. This way, you may be able to find people you know, discover new friends and experience situations like inviting stranded travelers to your table or hire & share a private plane together in order to reach your destination.

2. Consider a restaurant near by

Last thing you want to do is to spend the evening in the airport eating pizza. When things get tough, first thing to do is start checking restaurants and book a table. What is more, use social media to turn this somewhat negative experience into a real Thanksgiving event.

While considering a restaurant (item #1), you should take a look and see who is around you. Using location-based systems, you may be able to find people that you know, friends, family who are also stranded. This way, you can all gather and celebrate Thanksgiving all together.

3. Consider a hotel near by

If you are stranded and it looks like you’re going to have to spend the night in some remote place, then SOStravelers can help you find some solutions. In additiona, if you have the chance to be in one of the cities that hoteltonight.com is covering, you may as well download their app on your iPhone or Android and hopefully get a room for the night.

4. Check alternative solutions to reach your destination

In such cases, you may need to check alternative means of transportation whether it means taking the train, getting on a bus, or driving your own car.

5. Individual & collective solutions

Reaching your destination on your own may not be feasible but when you have a group of people, some solutions can be found. At SOStravelers, we may be able to arrange for you to hire a mini-bus, limousine or even a plane. Thanks to technology using social media and real time web, SOStravelers can fill in for example the bus with other stranded travelers who will pay for their own seat and thus share the price of the transportation.

6. Change locations

You may consider deciding upon another location for the gathering. Indeed, if your whole group is stranded, this might be easier to decide to plan the event where you are and fly your family or friends where you are. Check your airlines and travel agent: with some flexibility, understanding, and out-of-the box thinking, some ad-hoc solutions can be set up.

7. Contact your work place

If you see that you will likely be late for work and will not be able to turn to your office on monday morning, then it is best to bring in some of your own work in your web devices. Instead of feeling bored waiting hours for some possible flight, you can simply find a good place to sit and … work.

8 “Occupy the airport”

Let’s hope that after Wall Street, we will not see a movement called “Occupy the airport”. Instead, check with the airport what they are providing. For instance, Los Angeles Airport (LAX) has a AirportGuestServices, AirportInformationandTravelersAssistance . See also what we wrote regarding 12 waysairportscanturnstrandedtravelersintohappycustomersinthenextcrisis.

9. Set up a virtual event

There is nothing like real life events. However, as the last resort you may consider handling a video conference with your loved ones. We like to use hangout of Google+ that allows up video conference with up to 10 people.

10 Give Thanks

You may wish to get back to the roots of Thanksgiving (someoftheprays) and reflect.

At SOStravelers, we are providing a specialdealofayearlymembershipforacouplefor $12 only instead of $35 as well as a monthly memberships for only $2 per person.

Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam

Shashank Nigam is a globally sought-after consultant, speaker and thought leader on airline branding and customer engagement strategy. He is the Founder and CEO of SimpliFlying, one of the world’s largest aviation marketing firms working with over 85 aviation clients in the last ten years. Nigam is also the youngest winner of the Global Brand Leadership Award and has addressed senior executives globally, from Chile to China. Nigam’s impassioned and honest perspectives on airline marketing have found their way to over 100 leading media outlets, including the BBC, CNBC, Reuters and Bloomberg, and into leading publications such as The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. He writes a dedicated monthly column in Flight’s Airline Business, challenging the typical assumptions about airline marketing. His new book on airline marketing, SOAR, is an Amazon bestseller that’s shaking up the industry and inspiring other industries to learn from the best airlines. Born in India, raised in Singapore, he now lives with his wife and two young daughters in Toronto.
Shashank Nigam
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