Yesterday I covered the Top 10 Tips to Hoteling, so today I’ll tackle air travel.
I’m on a plane quite a bit. I seem to average 6 to 8 legs a month. I’ve learned a few tricks, quirks and tips over the years that make travel easier… or at least more bearable. I’ll try not to repeat the obvious ones I covered yesterday in my hotel post like, “stick with one airline.” But definitely do that to earn free flights and other perks. So here they are…
The Frequent Travelers Top 10 Air Travel Tips:
- Live in a hub city: My friends Mark, Doug, Greg… almost all my friends who travel like I do… live in hub cities. Their airline can get to most cities in one leg. I however, do not live in a hub city. That means it takes me two flight to get to most places. If you plan on flying for a living… live in a hub city!
- Take the first flight of the day: It’s this simple: the earlier your flight, the greater the chance of you getting to your destination. Later flights depend on earlier flights, earlier crews, earlier maintenance and weather conditions. If just one of those elements is off kilter, then the rest of the day collapses like dominos. It’s always worth it to start early.
- Always choose the nonstop: If you have the choice, always take the nonstop. Every stop is just an opportunity for cancelled connections, maintenance issues, weather, or other delays. But if you absolutely have to make a connection…
- Never check luggage: If your flight is ever cancelled or delayed and you have an opportunity to catch another flight, the first question the person at the gate will ask you is, “Did you check your luggage?” If you say yes, then they’ll say, “Sorry, we can’t help you.” Thanks to the new laws since 9/11, you can’t jump on another plane if your luggage is checked somewhere else. Solution: never check your luggage. If you fly a lot, this is really important because you’ll constantly need the freedom to jump to other flights.
- Get early boarding: Get that credit card that gives you priority boarding, or just fly a lot and you’ll get it. But priority boarding means getting your carry-on luggage near you. If you board late, you might have to put your luggage in the back or underneath which means 20 minute delay when you land which might cost you making your layover.
- No quick layover unless you’re willing to stay over: When you’re booking your flights, if you have to do a layover, never book one under an hour. Call me OCD, but it only takes a few times landing late in Chicago or Houston and running through the airport only to see your plane backing away from the gate because you had a 38 minute layover.
- Never fly anywhere you could drive: I often speak near Milwaukee. Milwaukee is under 2 hours from Chicago. I can fly directly to Chicago, get in a car and be in Milwaukee faster than taking a layover to Milwaukee… a flight that might be delayed or cancelled (especially the smaller planes—they are the first flights cancelled in bad weather). If you can handle a 2 or 3-hour drive… always make the drive instead of taking a layover.
- Bring your own food: I’ve only eaten one good airline meal in my entire life, and I’ve almost flown a million miles. I was upgraded to first from Korea in the upstairs of one of those big birds and enjoyed a wonderful filet minion. Every other meal I’ve had was easily trumped by the McDonald’s in the airport (how’s that for setting the bar low?). So stop by the airport deli before you board, or better yet, bring something good from outside the airport.
- Always Have Earplugs/Headset: Last month I had a lady behind me who talked for 3 ½ hours straight without breathing. It was truly amazing. Luckily, I had some noise cancelation headphones. The two people next to me didn’t and they both committed suicide before the flight ended.
- Slip on shoes: Nothing makes a smoother security experience than slip on shoes!
That’s it! What tips do you have?