11 Air Travel Tips From the Pros

rsz_computerwithphone by Tim Parker on August 18, 2014
Air travel airport

With late flights, crowded airports, and lack of legroom, flying isn’t always a pleasant experience. But if you know the tricks of the pros, life at 30,000 feet can be much less stressful. We asked businesspeople who spend much of their workweek flying to share their best tips for easier air travel.

1. Spacepak — Laurie Brown, communication skills trainer for The Difference, says she uses Flight001’s Spacepak system for her clothes. Spacepak compartmentalizes your items, allowing more to fit into your luggage.

2. Carry-ons onlyAndrew Hersch, COO of City Lunch Club, says to bring just a carry-on bag — and not just to save money on baggage check fees. “Having a carry-on opens up opportunities to take earlier flights and volunteer to give up your seat for a free travel voucher,” he says.

3. Pack backup powerAndy Abramson, CEO of Comunicano, says, “Carry a backup power pack for short charges.” Backup chargers plug directly into your phone without requiring an electrical outlet. There are a variety of chargers available starting at $20. Some can even recharge using solar energy.

4. Pick your seat carefullyDesigner Megan Auman, owner of Megan Auman Studios says, “Always check the seating chart when you check into your flight. Look for empty rows and swap seats. By doing this, I’m often able to end up with an empty seat, or even a row, next to me in coach.”

5. Preflight workoutAnn Shannon, public relations manager at Global Rescue LLC, advises, “Get in a great workout before you head to the airport. It will help you sleep during a long flight and you’ll be fresher when you arrive.”

6. Be loyal to one airlineSpeaker Barry Maher of Barry Maher and Associates, says, “Find the frequent-flyer program with the most flights that service the main airport you use. Once you gain elite status, flying gets much easier with upgrades, better seats, quicker check-in, earlier boarding, and quicker baggage return.”

7. Reorient to the time zoneKatherine Long, founder of Illustria Designs, says to adjust your sleep schedule to the time zone to which you’re traveling the night before you depart. “For example, when flying from Asia to the U.S., I try to stay up all night so that when I get on the flight, I can sleep through most of the flight and be comfortably on Eastern time by the time the plane lands in the afternoon. For flying from California back to the East Coast, redeye flights are good for this purpose.”

8. Don’t fly at nightOn the other hand, Linda Galindo, president of Galindo Consulting, says, “I take the first flight available and arrive at least a full hour early. Since making this decision I’ve eliminated the stress and fatigue of having no options when a night flight is canceled.”

9. Get a global entry cardAjmal Sheikh, an investment banking entrepreneur, advises getting a global entry card from the Department of Homeland Security. A global entry card allows travelers to bypass long lines at international security checkpoints.

10. Avoid short layovers between connecting flightsJackie Abramian, senior media strategist at BridgeView Marketing Corp., says, “If you can’t avoid a layover, don’t book flights with tight connections — less than two hours.”

11. Maintain a sense of humorLouis Altman, CEO of GlobaFone, says, “There are more people flying and that means there are more people flying who do not know how to get through security, board a plane, and do all the things that business travelers want to do quickly. Keep your blood pressure in check. They are doing the best they can.”

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Tim Parker is a business writer for Intuit and is passionate about solving small business problems.

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