How To Survive A Volcano Attack

by SUSANNAH LONG · April 20, 2010

Some flights have resumed service, but many others are still grounded by the Icelandic Avenger, Eyjafjallajokull. And with a new ash cloud rolling in, it looks like some airport exile advice is in order.-

[Photo via Andrew Bevan's facebook]

News reports, common sense, and movies that you've seen with your parents can all provide the keys to survival while stranded in an airport. To wit:

1. Get some sleep.

Buy earplugs, since the flight announcements never stop, and the televisions are never turned off. Craft a sleeping mask out of a discarded USA Today, as the fluorescent lights stay on most of the time.

2. Wash in the restroom.

Two sad Europeans tell the NYDN that 3 am is the best time for this, as the bathroom is peaceful and empty. Otherwise, ignore everyone's stares. A volcano is messing with you. Who are they to judge?

3. Take advantage of the many fine establishments within the terminals.

Look on the bright side: This is an opportunity to do some luxury shopping! JFK, for example, has several Cartier stores, as well as a few clothing boutiques and Bvlgari shops in Terminals 8 and 1. There are also many opportunities to get your drink on, and airport bars are where the hottest random encounters occur (or, in the case of the Rachel McAdams-Cillian Murphy thriller Red Eye, where you meet stone-cold killers who will later beat you up in your airplane's tiny bathroom and then try to kill your father). Most importantly, this is the chance to eat the most revolting and delicious foodstuffs known to man: Auntie Ann's and Cinnabon rule American airports, and airport McDonalds outlets can be found worldwide.

4. Or wrangle free food.

Unless you're lucky enough to be getting three meals a day at the wondrously-prepared Frankfurt airport, beg your airline for food vouchers - but don't bother pleading for the flights to leave; they can't do anything about the Earth's Revenge On Humanity. You might also borrow an old college student trick and ask the Au Bon Pains when they close up for the evening and get rid of their unsold pastries. Slink up to the McDonald's counter and request a meal voucher. Appeal to the mercy of bored food-service employees throughout the airport. When all else fails, ask your consulate. The Times says the Belgian consulate is providing travelers with fruit and croissants. (Omg, so Belgian!) We're guessing that if you tell your own consulate that the Belgians are doing it, they'll scramble to feed you.

4. Make friends.

Emulate Tom Hanks in Steven Spielberg's The Terminal by buddying up to construction workers, people in trouble with airport security, and hot stewardess Catherine Zeta Jones. This could be the best thing that ever happened to you. Ideally, your new bestie will be able to speak many languages . . . like Taiwan native Paulo Wu, who told CNN he spent five days at an Amsterdam airport getting chummy with British, Portuguese, Spanish, and Chinese travelers.

4. Find yourself some internet.

If you're not lucky enough to be at an airport with free wifi (or to sneak into a wifi zone at a JetBlue terminal), spring for the pay-as-you-surf kind. It's worth it. Why, CNN reports that stranded traveler Stefano Poma uses his laptop and webcam to see family dinners at home in Sweden and read to his children. It's almost like he's not trapped in Milan, searching for a 1,000-mile bus ride home! Which reminds us . . .

5. Get the Hell out of Dodge.

Eventually, stomach bloated with Cinnasticks, eyes aching from the fluorescents, and heart heavy from the shrieks of angry travelers, you will tire of waiting for a flight. Luckily, humankind has invented other modes of travel other than the airborne sort. The AP writes that German chancellor Angela Merkel had to fly from the US to Portugal and then patch together ground transport. The Times brings us the story of Kerri McDonald, a Londoner planning to fly to Spain, take a two-day train ride to Paris, and then catch the Eurostar home. And USA Today reports that North Sea oil diver Erik Nielsen managed to book a spot on a Royal Caribbean senior citizen cruise from Lisbon to Norway. Where there's a will there's a way.

6. Above all, fight boredom.

Steal the awesome ideas of the unnamed Belgian family that the Times says built a their own makeshift furniture and a big toy airplane out of cardboard. You can also become deeply involved in the personal lives of the airport employees around you, for, as the soapy movie Airport teaches us, they are probably having insane adventures involving geriatric stowaways, playboy pilots, and torrid affairs galore! Or take a cue from Ashley Klinger, whose weirdly prescient video Jezebel alerted us to in February . . .

7. Know your enemy. Learn to pronounce the volcano's name.

Eyjafjallajokull is pronounced “ay-yah-FYAH’-plah-yer-kuh-duhl." Get. It. Right.