It’s fair to say that most people generally perceive delays as being a negative event. And for travelers, this perception is even more pronounced.
Flight delays result in missed connections, missed meetings, a lost day of vacation, more time in the airport or airplane.
In short, they just generally suck.
But our perception of delays is subject to a negativity bias. We tend to remember the delays that result in bad outcomes much more vividly than those that result in good outcomes.
In a 2012 article Alina Tugend wrote for the NY Times – “Praise Is Fleeting, but Brickbats We Recall” – she described a tactic she had developed to try to diffuse self-defeating emotions when faced with negativity (her article focuses on criticism, not flight delays, but the general idea is the same):
It turns out that a strategy I started years ago apparently can be effective. I have a “kudos” file in which I put all the praise I’ve received, along with e-mails from friends or family that make me feel particularly good.
As Professor Baumeister noted in his study, “Many good events can overcome the psychological effects of a bad one.” In fact, the authors quote a ratio of five goods for every one bad.
Which, in a roundabout way, brings me to the point of this post. Over on the Business Traveller forums BigDog has started a thread in which fellow travelers are encouraged to share stories about travel delays that actually turned out to be positive. For example:
When the snow shut down LGW about 4 years or so ago, I was in Orlando. Ended up staying out there for another 2 days before I could get a flight back. Thanks to my travel insurance all my costs were covered (I was at the Hard Rock Hotel and they agreed to use the discounted rate I’d booked under for the additional nights rather than the rack rate) and I spent the time doing rollercoasters at Universal Studios. Best delay ever. ~1nfrequent
Back in the 80’s SIA served Male (Maldives) twice a week. Due to the monsoon hitting the plane was unable to land and as a result I had three extra glorious days (the rain had cleared up by the next morning) at their expense. Bliss. ~LuganoPirate
If you have had some good delays of your own, you might consider adding them to the thread. And so as not to hijack the Business Traveller thread, if you can recall a good non-travel related delay, go ahead and post it in the comments section below.
And the next time you are delayed in your travels, maybe pulling these lists of good delays up and re-reading them will offset some of the stress you are experiencing.
That, or you won’t be able to pull it up because your laptop/tablet/phone isn’t working right and/or you can’t get a signal. At which point you will think to yourself, “Perfect, every time I need to find something the damn thing doesn’t work,” and the annoyance you were previously experiencing will snowball into a full-blown rage. Just then the flight attendant tells you that you need to put your device away.
“You have to be effing kidding me!”, you snarl. And with that you are deemed unruly, the police are called and you spend the night in lockup.
Damn flight delays.
Read the thread in its entirety: Best Delay Ever