This is a question that Rob and I faced on…
Getting stuck at the airport for any length of time is a pain, and even if you have some good coping strategies, there are always places you’d rather be. Fortunately, most delays last only a couple of hours before we get on our way – but what if you were stuck in the airport for much longer than a few hours?
A Spanish tourist has been stuck at Chile’s Santiago Airport for the last 2 months. Rodrigo Ben-Azul says that he came to Chile from Spain visit some relatives to resolve a family dispute, but he was unsuccessful and decided to head home. Unfortunately, he spent all of his money and couldn’t affort the plane ticket home. So, he returned to the airport terminal and ended up camping out there, eating out of trash cans and scrounging change for the next two months while he waited for someone at home to (hopefully buy him a return ticket. It’s a sad story, of course, but look at it as a cautionary take because there are many ways that you can avoid the same fate:
Buy a round trip ticket before you go. Buy a full fare ticket so that is easy to change your departure date if you think you might want to stay longer.
Bring enough money with you for another plane ticket. You can always spend it in your new country/city if you decide you want to stay there.
Have a contingency plan. If you don’t have enough money for another ticket, think of ways that you can earn it before you leave your home country – or at least before you head to the airport. Scrounging change might get you enough cash for a vending machine, but it’s not going to help you get out of that airport.
Cancel your trip if the odds that you might get stranded are strong. Seriously. There is always another flight, so save up enough for that round trip flight for a few more weeks before flying in the first place.
The advantage to living at an airport is that it is open 24/7, has plenty of bathrooms and you’re probably not going to get kicked out. The downside is that it is difficult to better your situation unless you can talk your way into a job with an airline, so it is best just not to get into it in the first place.