Jet lag is your body's way of asking you not to abuse
it by upsetting its normal cycle. Basically, your body
is used to falling asleep at certain times of the day.
If you go waltzing across multiple time zones, your
body doesn't much care: it still wants to fall asleep
at its normal time, and it doesn't much care if it happens
to be three in the afternoon.
There have been some studies that suggest that paying
close attention to what you eat when can reduce the
transition time; for example the Argonne National Laboratory
has published a Jet Lag Diet. For more on jet lag, see
Diana Fairechild's Jetlag.
Two good rules of thumb: it takes about one day per
hour of time shift to totally get over jet lag. It is
also much harder to travel east than it is to travel
Occasionally, you will not be able to go out on your
scheduled flight. Sometimes the bump will be because
the passengers did not follow statistical means, and
fewer people cancelled than the airline expected. In
such cases, the airline will usually give you some sort
of prize - free tickets or vouchers for travel on that
Occasionally, the bump will be for safety reasons. In
the past three years, I have been stuck on the ground
because of fog, thunderstorms, a (apparently false)
smoke alarm, and an unresponsive backup rudder motor.
I don't mind these delays at all. I'd rather be late
to Chicago than the late Kate Sherwood!
If you are stuck somewhere overnight because of something
that was the fault of the airline, they will usually
furnish you with a hotel room, breakfast, and the first
flight out in the morning. If you are stuck somewhere
because of the weather, that's your own problem.
Either you hang out in the airport (another good reason
to bring food with you!) or you impose upon your great-step-half-aunt
Martha that you haven't seen in seventeen years.
If you miss a flight because of your own stupidity (like
yakking for too long with Aunt Martha), most airlines
will help you out if it doesn't inconvenience them too
much. For discount airlines like Southwest, however,
you'd better make sure you don't miss your flight!
Morley Selver notes that if you are waiting to board
a flight and it is suddenly cancelled, there will be
a race to the next airline counter to try to get on
the next flight.
Instead of following the sheep to the counter, head
for the nearest phone and phone the airline reservations
system. You get the same result without standing in