One mile high, as the stars come out, you place cucumbers over your eyelids and settle in for a good night’s sleep in coach. Children may kick the seat behind you, the guy to your right may encroach, and strange human noises may blend overhead with the dry relentless forced-air ventilation system – but you’re moisturized, hydrated, relaxed, and ready to do business tomorrow. At least, in your dreams.
How do veteran road warriors do it, week after week, flying from city to city and continent to continent? Is alcohol involved? Do you have to know somebody in order to travel in comfort? Is there any hope of a stress-free arrival? Salary.com asked a leading travel industry expert to reveal his business travel secrets. After hundreds of thousands of miles in the air, here’s what Billy Kolber-Stuart has to say.
- Make sure everything you absolutely have to have is in your carry-on luggage. If it’s too heavy, ship it ahead. Automation has greatly reduced lost and delayed baggage, but leave that risk to your competitors.
- Call the airline a couple of hours before your flight, and again right before you leave for the airport. A quick call can save you hours of misery if your flight has been delayed or canceled.
- Organize your work before you get on the plane.
- Carry magazines you can throw away after you read them.
- Make sure your laptop battery is fully charged, and bring a phone cord (order the best one from Igo.com) so you can use the airphone to send and check email in flight.
- Always pack a swimsuit – a quick dip in the hotel pool when you arrive can do wonders for your mindset.
- Private airline lounges can be great places to work, but sometimes they’re more crowded than the gate areas, with other road warriors hogging the workdesks. Look low: you’ll find plenty of outlets on the floor in the gate area. Plug in and get to work.
- Room to work can be a challenge sitting in coach. Try to score an open seat next to you in three easy steps: book towards the back of the plane. When planes are configured with two-and three-seat rows, choose a three-seat row. Ask the gate agent if there are any seats available where you can keep the seat next to you open. Be nice – it works. (High-level frequent flyers automatically block the seat next to them on many airlines. If you’re in this elite cadre, make sure the seat you’re preassigned has a seat open next to it to block. Don’t waste your privilege.)
- Keep yourself hydrated in flight. Drink lots of water and avoid alcohol. You’ll arrive in much better shape. And don’t forget about a lightweight moisturizer for the face and hands.
- Stretch out frequently during any flight lasting more than a few hours, and brush your teeth at least once. You’ll feel refreshed upon arrival. I walk laps on wide-body planes (at least one lap per hour). Also, two Excedrin prior to arrival can be very helpful, especially in high-altitude destinations.
— Johanna Schlegel, Salary.com Editor-in-Chief