When going abroad this summer, a little advance planning can go a long way to help you sidestep disaster, diarrhea -- and sheer rage.
Sometimes, just getting to your travel destination can
be the biggest disaster you encounter. Flight cancellations and long delays --
in the airport, on the tarmac -- have created something called "air
rage." It's a ratcheted-up version of "road rage," says Nadine
Kaslow, PhD, professor and chief psychologist at Emory University School of
Medicine in Atlanta. At its core are anger and frustration.
Kaslow logged 30-plus trips last year alone and knows only too
well the frustrations that air travelers face. A few years ago, she nearly
missed a long-awaited Alaskan cruise when a flight to the West Coast was
"I'd been planning it for a year, laid out all this money.
It was one of those nightmare situations. I ended up taking seven plane trips
to different little towns in Canada so I could get there and not miss the
boat," she tells WebMD.
The anger you feel is understandable, says Kaslow. "But
getting out of control, becoming so frustrated that you take it out on flight
attendants, on people who are not really responsible -- that's what's
The frustration escalates when people are stuck in the plane --
and especially if passengers have been drinking, Kaslow tells WebMD.
"People become less inhibited, more impulsive. And I think they have a real
sense of entitlement, a feeling that they're special and that these things
shouldn't happen to them. Frequent flyers really seem to feel this."
To control anger, Kaslow advises:
- Plan for problems. "Bring something to entertain yourself like a game,
books, food," she says. "If you know you're going to need different
clothes when you arrive, put them in a carry-on bag."
- Talk to people next to you on the plane. If they can't relate, who
- Do as much problem-solving as possible. "If it's possible to get
rebooked, get your cell phone out or go to a pay phone -- even if flight
attendants or gate personnel are offering to make the reservations for
you," Kaslow says. "Sometimes they will even advise you to do the same
- Spend your time writing a letter to the airline, says Kaslow. "I
certainly know plenty of people who have gotten complimentary tickets, had $30
taken off their next flight. It won't fix your current situation, but it might
make you feel more in control."
Airline personnel could also be more forthcoming with
information, she says. "I've thought about this a whole lot. People feel
helpless. And if they don't know what's going on, the angrier they get. If they
keep people informed, it gives them a sense that someone is trying to take care
of the problem."