How to Navigate an Airport During a SHTF Scenario

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Written by Martin Banks

People travel vast distances every day. Some travel for business, some for pleasure, and some mix the two. In 2019, that amounted to an average of 115,000 flights every day.

Most of us climb onto a plane and don’t think twice about the distance, assured that there will be a return flight waiting to take us home when we’re ready. Will that still be the case during a SHTF scenario?

For the sake of argument, we’re going to assume the airports are still operating and carrying people from one place to another and that the SHTF scenario isn’t currently impacting air travel. Maybe they’re trying to help as many people escape a disaster as possible or are more interested in assisting people in getting home while they’re still able to keep their doors open.

What do you need to know to navigate an airport during a SHTF scenario?

Don’t Neglect Your Airline-Friendly EDC

Everyday carry, or EDC, is a term used for the survival supplies that you carry on your person or with you at all times. Here is a list of items for consideration (does not include TSA restricted items. You’ll need to check current TSA regulations every time you fly.)

● Cash

● Cell phone

● Wallet

● Flashlight

● Compass

● First-aid kit

● Sunscreen and bug spray

● Calorie-dense snacks

● Water purification tablets

● Rope or paracord

The point of EDC is that, if you find yourself stranded in the wilderness or far from your main supply and equipment stash, you’ll have everything you need to stay alive until you can make it to your base of operations.

If you’re flying to your destination, many of what we would consider essential components to a comprehensive EDC loadout would need to be stored in your checked luggage if you’re allowed to take them at all.

Knives, multi-tools, pepper spray, and firearms are not allowed in carry-on baggage. You’ll also have to rethink your sunscreen, bug spray, and other liquids. Aerosol cans are also forbidden, which excludes a lot of bug sprays. Opt for travel-size containers of liquid or bug spray and sunscreen wipes that are lightweight and easy to travel with. Another consideration is the legality of carrying certain knives, firearms and other self-defense items in your destination state or city. Every state has different regulations, so be sure to check before your trip.

Know Your Departure and Arrival Points Well

Airports in major travel hubs are often large enough to be cities in their own right. Even under the best circumstances, it’s easy to get turned around and lost. If we’re still flying during a SHTF scenario, there are a thousand different things that could impact your ability to navigate the airport.

Maybe part of the facility was damaged by a disaster, rendering it unsafe. Maybe the power is out and there is no way to keep track of which gate each plane will arrive at or depart from. Maybe there’s only a skeleton crew working – people who volunteered to get you home before they evacuate themselves – and there’s no one available to guide you from one gate to the next.

Whatever the case, and whatever details are causing the shit to hit the fan, knowing the layout of both your departure and arrival airports is essential. If you’re not confident in your ability to remember these details, print out a paper map of the facility so you’re not relying on a cell phone that may or may not still work in a SHTF scenario.

Be Ready for Unexpected Delays and Cancellations

Even on the best of days when the world isn’t ending, flight delays and cancellations are common. Aircraft are incredibly complex, and if something goes wrong, the whole plane might have to come out of rotation for repairs or maintenance. Bad weather can keep a plane on the ground or even cause incoming flights to divert to other airports.

These delays and cancellations will likely become more common if airports are still operating during a SHTF scenario. There’s no way to tell what a schedule might look like because we don’t know what might cause the world to end. Whatever disaster ends up on the calendar, make sure you’re ready for unexpected delays.

Have a Backup Plan in Place

If we’re lucky enough to have operational airports during a SHTF scenario, we should count ourselves lucky – and be ready with a backup plan. There’s no way to know when the airport might shut down temporarily, or when it might close its doors for good.

If you find yourself stranded, it’s essential to have a backup plan in place. This could be having cash handy to buy a motorcycle to get you home, or the energy and skill to walk home, if no other options present themselves.

When you’re traveling, take the time to look for other options to both reach your destination and make it home again. You never know when you might need one of these backup plans because flying is suddenly no longer an option.

Stay Safe out There

We never know when the world might end. If airlines are still operational during a SHTF scenario, we should count it as a blessing. We never know when something will throw the ultimate wrench in our plans and send the human race back to the Stone Age. Maintain your EDC and have some backup plans in place. Stay safe out there.

About the author

Martin Banks is the managing editor at Modded. Follow him on Twitter @TModded for frequent updates on his work.

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Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

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  1. couple of things >>> while you have internet service copy ALL the available flights going your general direction – not just the flights to your immediate intended destination – 75% “back home” is better than 100% stuck where you are ….

    if you have a rental car – might want to think twice about a flight home – don’t return the car – park it legal in the terminal lot noting the exact location >>> keep it as a reserve back-up to your flight home plan – report the car’s location and terminate the rental as your plan germinates ….

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