Slate readers help us catalog the personality types of flight delays.
Receives a lot of bad information which they disseminate quickly. There's a bomb on the plane. The engines don't work. The airline has chartered a new plane. Tells passengers trying to make alternate arrangements that there are available flights out that don't exist.
Doesn't spread rumors but has lots of theories about the situation that he presses on people like campaign buttons. Talks about struts, cumulous clouds,and labor disputes. Has never been known to be correct.
Reader Mats Keller writes that he once sat next to a jet mechanic on a transcontinental flight. After the attendant said they had to fix some generic-sounding part, the mechanic said: "This plane will not take off today. Follow me." The two got off the flight and headed to another plane.
It's only going to get worse.
Living in Alaska often means that you're subjected to delays. These travelers plan ahead, packing food and entertainment material.
Making the Best of It
On an eight-hour layover in Taipei, reader Emily Kline got her hair cut, jogged through the terminals listening to This American Life, and downloaded—and watched— Revolutionary Road.
Makes the best of it by going to the bar and ordering the best it has to offer. Once flight takes off, if it does, is a little pink and giggly.
Find these people. Befriend them. They buy drinks for everyone.
Hi, Nice To Meet You Drinker
Be careful of this guy. He starts out like Expense-Account Drinker but soon becomes Drone, and then, quickly, you're looking for Lawyer to get a restraining order.
Q, of Her Majesty's Secret Service
After hearing of the delay, unfurls a wide array of gadgets (many of them Apple products), taking up every available power outlet. Isn't using them to get out of his predicament but merely to stay connected during the delay. The overhead projector is a bit much, though.
Childless Middle-Aged Couple
Beware: Extremely ruthless. Usually work in tandem. Their path of destruction starts from wherever they are in line and emanates outward. Typically bitter, fussy, and very demanding. Announce their discomfort to everyone around them as if they are the only ones inconvenienced.
The longer the delay, the crummier the hotel, the more these people smile. They aren't just able to endure, they seem to get ever-more happy. Who are these people?
No sign of discomfort. Wears comfortable pants.
Flamboyant Zen Master
Like the Zen Master but pushy. Wears high-priced outdoor gear with exciting logos. To passers by, smells either alluring or un-showered. Often found sprawled across high-traffic corridors, turning their relaxation into performance art.
Secretly Happy Martyr
Reader Jon writes in and nails this one a little too closely for my taste: "Acts frustrated that he (used generically) will not be able to get home on time, makes half-hearted attempts to see if there is some other way to make the trip, ostentatiously calls his office/family/friends to explain that he will miss that meeting/soccer game/birthday party, and then happily enjoys some alone time in the hotel (maybe a movie, an extravagant room-service meal), feeling that he has a valid excuse to not get any work done. After he gets home, he dines out on the story of his arduous journey for at least a week." If he is a reporter, he might even write about it.
Member of the Military Knows about hurry up and wait. Never complains. Is helpful. A model to everyone but those people acting like maniacs around him.
Appears only moments before the delayed flight takes off. Has been in the frequent-fliers' club lounge until he learned of the flight delay, then booked himself into some swank hotel rather than the cut-rate one the airline is providing.
Finally, reader Kevin Forbes notes that most people aren't born to one category or another but go through stages of delay, much like the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross' famous stages of grief:
- Denial: This can't be happening!
- Anger: Who is responsible for this?
- Bargaining: Just let me on the plane ...
- Depression: I'm never getting out of here.
- Acceptance: Might as well make the best of it, who wants to grab a latte?
Thanks to everyone for helping us put together this list. If we missed a few types, let us know in comments.