Traveling via air is a practical requirement for many professionals, but it can also be a massive headache. There’s no real practical alternative, especially when you’re traveling internationally or clear across the country, so your main priority is reducing the stress, complications, and inefficiencies of business air travel.
What are the best strategies for reducing or eliminating these issues?
First, let’s examine some of the biggest core problems related to business air travel:
It’s true that booking a plane ticket and accommodations is easier than it’s ever been in the past; instead of making arrangements with a travel agent, you can do your own searches, your own research, and book online in a matter of minutes, at least most of the time. Still, booking can be a hassle. Shopping around for the best prices, timing your purchases correctly, and gathering all the relevant details can get messy and time consuming.
According to DRVN, airport transfers are some of the biggest issues related to air travel. How do you get to and from the airport in a reliable, safe way? How can you make sure your driver is going to be available for you? How can you make sure you’re on time? How do you make the most of the time you spend traveling to and from an airport?
Delays come in many forms, and none of them are pleasant. If the airport is particularly crowded, you may be stuck waiting in line unnecessarily. If there’s inclement weather or a mechanical problem with the plane, your entire flight may be delayed. In a best-case scenario, you’ll be stuck at the airport for a few extra hours looking for new ways to kill time. In a worst-case scenario, your entire trip could be rendered a waste.
Flying on a plane is generally cramped, uncomfortable, and restrictive. Even if you’re only flying for a few hours, the process can be agonizing. To make things worse, it’s hard for some people to be productive or sleep on a plane.
All these problems and more can artificially increase your stress. And if you travel regularly, they can amount to a brutal chronic stress problem. You don’t need to be a health expert to know that stress is generally bad for you, making you feel worse, increasing your likelihood of various ailments and conditions, and shortening your lifespan.
The Solutions to Business Air Travel
So what about the solutions? How can you make business air travel less of a pain?
1. Create repeatable processes
If you want a more streamlined and consistent experience when preparing for air travel, you need to create repeatable processes. The exact nature of those processes will vary, depending on your needs and your organization, but they should be formally documented and easy to follow. For example, you might create a workflow for your assistant to book your travel arrangements, or you might have a step-by-step guide and checklist for yourself to be adequately prepared for flight.
2. Delegate booking (and double check everything)
Save yourself some of the stress and hassle of booking by delegating their responsibilities to someone else. Hire an assistant or work with a contractor to handle your arrangements. The only caveat to this is that you should always double check all your bookings before relying on them; even the most talented individuals occasionally make mistakes.
3. Hire a car service
One of the best upgrades you can make for yourself is hiring a private car service to take you to and from the airport. With a private car service, you’ll have a professional driver who knows local routes and local traffic, so they can practically guarantee you get to your destination on time. As an added bonus, you can do work in the backseat while conveniently being transported wherever you need to go.
4. Buy yourself time
You can’t always prevent delays and similar problems; some of these are legitimately unavoidable. What you can do is buy yourself extra time. If possible, aim to arrive at your final destination several hours before you actually need to, or even a day or two before the biggest events. It’s also a good idea to arrive at the airport as early as possible. This way, if something goes wrong, you’ll have a buffer in place.
5. Apply to skip the line
Certain services allow you to skip most of the lines at the airport, including TSA Precheck and Global Entry. Applying for these services doesn’t take long, but it could save you tons of time – especially if you plan on flying regularly.
6. Upgrade your ticket
Don’t hesitate to upgrade your ticket, even if it costs a bit extra. Promoting yourself to business class could give you more room, early boarding, and more amenities that can make you more comfortable. It’s well worth the investment if it means being less stressed, more productive, and more relaxed throughout your travel.
7. Find a way to sleep
How could you possibly fall asleep on a noisy, uncomfortable plane? Most people struggle with this, yet sleep is almost a practical necessity for long flights. Invest in upgrades that help you sleep better, such as noise cancelling headphones, eye masks, and neck pillows.
8. Block distractions
Similarly, you should find a way to block out distractions that are around you on the airplane. Noise cancelling headphones are an excellent investment for minimizing environmental sounds; bringing focused work can also help you stop paying attention to the little annoyances throughout the plane.
Take some time to relax and decompress after your plane lands. Don’t immediately rush into a meeting.
There’s no way to completely eliminate all the downsides and annoyances of business air travel. This is an imperfect way of traveling, and always will be. However, businesspeople generally have much more control over this situation than they realize; with even a small number of upgrades and habit changes, you can set yourself up for a much more comfortable air travel experience.