Each year, hundreds of people are stranded at the airport--either you've missed a flight, or some act of nature has prevented you from catching the plane. Since I was born, I've been flying standby on a variety of major airlines. My dad works for a major company, and there are ways to make your experience more comfortable while saving some money...Also, some of the tips are good for regular travel, or last-minute travel, as well.
Here's a few tips to cope.
Step 1: Relax
If plans have unexpectedly changed, you might be a little (or a lot) stressed out. Totally acceptable. However, in order to deal with other people and make good choices, being calm and assertive (and nice!) really helps. If this means getting a beer or ice cream or taking a little nap, go ahead. In most cases, you have time. If not, go straight to step #2...
Step 2: Take Inventory
If you have sufficiently calmed down, or haven't the time to do so, figure out how much and what you have on-hand at the moment. This comes into play for all the actions you take from here on out...
First, do an assessment of what you have with you (in order of importance--what you need right now and so forth) It might be something like:
1. Money/Credit Cards
3. Tickets *or passes
5. Contact Lenses *(wearing)
6. Carry-On Bag (Laptop)
7. Purse--comb, lipstick, kleenex, etc.
In this example, it becomes clear that the traveler can only really be comfortable for a short while without making other arrangements. She has no change of clothing with her (let's say they're at her destination, or lost) and has to figure out step #2...