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How to deal with being stranded at the airport

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AP

Foul weather, airplane problems, union strikes and plain-old over booking:  Let face it, there will be more than one opportunity in your life to spend more time at an airport than you'd like.  

After you checked out all the latest novels in the book shops, smelled the perfumes in the Duty Free stores and sampled the stale sandwiches at the food court, what else is there to do?

We can't all get as lucky as the stranded passengers in the Chinese city of Dalian stuck for three days due to fog and strong winds.  Airport officials there arranged girls to dance and entertain more than 30,000 passengers bored out of their minds.

Finding yourself stuck in an airport often means boredom, exhaustion and stress. To save you from these terrors of travel, here is a guide on how to deal with being stranded.

Ask airline employees for help
Airline employees face stranded and irate customers every day, so you may either find a helping hand or an apathetic answer. If you are faced with one unhelpful employee, simply seek out another. You may be frustrated, but you can get much further with courtesy than anger. After all, the employees had nothing to do with your flight trouble. Find out whether the employees know of any good hotels nearby. Try to choose a place with a free shuttle to and from the airport, so you do not have to worry about trekking back for your flight. You can also ask employees if the airline has meal or flight vouchers for stranded customers.

Explore the airport
Airports are like little cities. They have a wide variety of businesses and a fascinating population. Instead of getting a meal and drink in the same place, buy a meal in one restaurant then get a drink or a cup of coffee at another spot. Find seats facing the crowd, sit back and enjoy a leisurely meal while you watch people pass by. People-watching is a popular activity in Paris, so rather than feeling stuck in the airport, try to imagine that you are relaxing in a cafe in France.

Stay plugged in
You may need your electronics for any number of reasons -- whether to work, watch movies or simply stay connected. Unfortunately, outlets can be hard to find in some airports, and you will likely compete with other passengers for the few outlets available. Many airports now have charging stations, where a good number of people can plug in with ease. Ask an attendant at the information booth about charging centers. Should the airport have none, you may have better luck asking for an outlet in a restaurant. If you need Internet access and the airport has none, ask the information booth if there is a designated hot spot or Internet cafe around. Again, a restaurant may be able to help you out in this case, as a few have likely set up their own routers.

Find great activities
Entertain yourself any way you can. Airports always have bookstores where you can find books, magazines, crosswords and word search puzzles. Unlike the overpriced airport food, books and periodicals are usually sold at market value, since the prices are printed right on the cover. Major airports often have shops that rent out portable DVD players. You can try a movie marathon or watch the entire series of an addictive television show. Feel free to do these activities in an airport restaurant or cafeteria. These restaurants are used to people hanging out for long periods, so feel free to linger.

Rest where you can
Between jet lag and the difficulties of traveling in general, you may find yourself absolutely exhausted. If you cannot visit a hotel, consider the airport your camping ground. Some airports have napping rooms you can pay for by the hour, but these are rare. Seek out benches without armrests, so you can stretch out for a quick nap. You can also push benches together to fashion a more comfortable resting area. Just make sure to keep your belongings safe with you at all times or store them in an airport locker.