The Retail Doctor’s 21 Savvy Business Flying And Travel Tips

By Bob Phibbs

frequent traveler tips for flyingHave a business flight for a conference or association meeting looming in your future?

Make sure you are ready for your trip with these business flying tips I’ve gleaned from my years of being a road warrior as the Retail Doctor.

1. Join just one airline’s frequent flyer club. When you have a decent amount of miles, membership can get you out of a jam and cut thru red tape to get you where you need to go. United just sent me a golden handle-wrap for my suitcase which shows baggage handlers my priority status. Now my suitcase arrives first when gate-checked on smaller flights.

2. Do whatever is needed to achieve TSA Pre-Check. In larger airports Pre-Check is a necessity if you want to avoid long lines. More info here.

3. Know your route options. If a flight is delayed due to weather or maintenance for more than an hour, know what other airports you can fly into to get to your destination. Don’t sit at an airport waiting; be proactive.

4. Get to the gate first, before stopping to buy a magazine or food. Gates can change without much notice.

5. Avoid booking the last flight out. If there is a delay in the system affecting multiple flights in the system, often the last flight out will be cancelled.

6. If a flight is canceled, jump on the phone; don’t wait in line. As soon as you know a flight is not going to happen, get listed as standby on a following flight. Higher-status frequent fliers have their own dedicated line, which comes in handy as you spot a line of 100 angry fliers waiting to talk in-person to a representative at the airport.

7. Select a seat close to the front. If there are delays arriving for a connecting flight, you may have to dash off the plane to catch the connection.

8. Wait for the people ahead of you to get off. Don’t be a jerk and try to horn ahead of others saying that you’ve got a connection; so does most everyone ahead of you.

9. Never check your baggage. If there is a flight delay or cancellation, having the freedom to walk onto another flight without the airline having to find your bags is vital.

10.  Book the window seat. Sitting by the window means you won’t be struck by everyone’s luggage as they go down the aisle.

11.  Use the overhead storage judiciously. Put your smaller bag under the seat in front of you. The quicker luggage is stored, the quicker you’ll take off. And place your larger rollerboard opposite your side of the plane to grab it easier after you land.

12.  Buy soft luggage. Soft baggage is easier to put into an overhead than hard cases.

13.  Buy a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. Sound is one of the biggest drains on your sanity. For about $300 you can insulate your ears and arrive refreshed.

14.  Pay for the extra legroom option. Airbus has just revealed a reconfigured jet with 11 seats across in economy. You don’t have to be a sardine. For the $40 extra, treat yourself .

15.  Avoid the cheapest fares. Cheaper fares mean the airlines are much less inclined to do much for you should something go awry. And nowadays for me...about 50% of trips have something go wrong.

16.  Join the Airline’s Club. If you fly more than a few times a year, the annual fee for an airline club is worth it. The clubs offer free wi-fi, snacks, and a comfortable chair; this is nice, especially when you are delayed.

17.  Allow extra time between flights, especially in the winter. When you have less than an hour between flights, if there is any gate agent to meet the previous flight or the need to de-ice your plane before you leave ...anything can make you lose your connection. Plan 1-2 hours between flights if possible. Trust me.

18.  Look up. Be aware of passengers placing their items in the overheads above you. I once saw a computer slip out of a bag and hit the guy below on his temple. If he had just paid attention, he could have caught it. It’s another reason to sit by the window.

19.  Be a pal. When your suitcase fills the overhead compartment, close the door so others know it is full.

20.  Pack your oldest socks and underwear and throw them out along the way. Your luggage will get lighter as you go.

21.  Tip. When leaving your room for checkout, leave behind about $1 a day for the housekeepers. Passing gratitude on makes you feel good.

Also see, 12 Do's and Don’ts For Getting The Most From A Conference 

In Sum

Traveling is one of the things that truly makes us realize we are more alike than different. Use these travel tips whether you are on your way to a retail conference or just on vacation to keep your sanity and composure.

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