Travel Tips for Business (and the Holidays!)
Well, friends, the holidays are nearly upon us again. That means food, friends, family, and (quite often) flying.
It’s no secret that I spend a lot of time in the air, and I’m pretty good at making the most of my flight experience. So whether you fly once a year or once a month, I’d like to offer a few travel tips for making your next flight a better experience.
Let’s start with a few helpful holiday travel tips and hints for in-frequent flyers.
Holiday Travel Tips for In-Frequent Flyers
1) Don’t check a bag if you don’t have to! Going for three days or less? Save the money. Pack light, and make sure your roll aboard bag will fit in the overhead bin (every airline has the maximum dimensions listed on their web site).
2) Board early! With no extra cost, you can sit further back on the plane and board earlier. It will take you longer to exit, but there will still be overhead space for your bags when you get on board. Alternatively, spend a few extra bucks for priority boarding. On Delta, Economy Comfort can go for as little as $9. Board early, sit up front near the boarding door, get extra legroom, and still get on early enough to stow your bags.
3) Exit row seats are fool’s gold! Did you know that most exit row seats don’t recline? The whole point of having wider exit rows is to get people off the plane faster in case of an emergency. They don’t want you blocking the doors with a reclined seat so they take no chances. You may get some extra legroom but if you’re planning to nap, be prepared to do so sitting up straight.
4) Long flight? Pack slippers! As soon as you’re wheels-up, take your shoes off and slip your feet into something more comfortable. Changing cabin pressure and altitude after all the rushing around the airport can make your feet swell and your shoes feel two sizes too small. Slippers on, seat back, headphones in, and off we go into the wild blue yonder.
OK, now let’s look at some more advanced stuff.
If you find yourself flying several times a year, you can get pretty weary of the security checks, cramped seats, long lines, and general inconvenience of air travel. But it doesn’t have to be that way!
For example, would you like to regularly fly First Class on a coach fare? Board first? Pay nothing to check your bags? Go to the front of the security line? Take the occasional vacation for free? You can!
If you travel fairly often, here are four easy steps to dramatically improve your business and personal travel experience.
How to Win Serious Travel Points and Perks
Step 1) Select one airline to fly, sign up for their frequent flyer program, and concentrate all of your air travel with them
Free upgrades, free checked bags, shorter lines, priority boarding and seating…these can all be yours if you can take a longer view when booking your tickets.
That means no more price-shopping all the carriers on Expedia; get the best fares on your chosen airline by being flexible with your travel times or even which airport you search (there might be a cheaper one not far from where you’re actually going).
Show them you’re willing to invest in their success and they’ll show you the comfy seats, free drinks, and hot meals at 35,000′.
I’m a #Delta flyer so that’s what I know best (hence the specifics below), plus their SkyMiles program is consistently rated among the best in the U.S. so I think it’s a great place to be for travel rewards.
Step 2) Get the right credit card and buy your tickets with it
Lots of credit cards have partnerships with airlines and that can really help. For example, linking your Delta Platinum AmEx with your Skymiles account is like a power-up for miles, discounts, fast-track status, etc. You get miles for everything you spend, plus bonus miles when you buy your Delta tickets with it, and even the option of paying part of your cash fare using the miles you’re building up.
American Airlines and SouthWest both have really good credit card partnerships, too. Personally I’d rather walk barefoot to most destinations than fly SouthWest, but to each his own.
No matter which airline you choose:
Step 3) Get to know the ins and outs of their awards program and align your travel with the maximum reward potential
Many frequent flyer programs are based on how many miles you fly, how many segments (legs) you fly, how much you paid for your ticket, or some combination of the three. Get the best fare but don’t be shy about taking a slightly longer route or an extra stop. It may add time to your day, but it’ll pay you back in miles and ranking.
Step 4) Stay on top of your status and the program
If you want to attain status, keep up with the program you’re applying for so you know the thresholds, time limits, and what you need to do to get there. Get to know their web site and don’t hesitate to call the frequent flyer program desk with questions.
Are you approaching a benchmark in your status? If so, can you nudge your next travel plans in a slightly different direction to collect what you need to get there? Be proactive, it really pays off. Play your cards right and the sky’s the limit for benefits.
Questions about the specifics? Post them in the comments below, I promise to reply.