Years ago, an airport lounge used to be an exclusive privilege available only to passengers of a certain status or with a specific type of ticket. No more! With the click of a few buttons on a few apps, and a credit card, you too can escape the hustle and chaos of the general waiting area in the terminal, and enjoy the comfort and convenience of a quiet and clean lounge.
What amenities do they offer that make them worth the price?
For one thing, they’re quiet and comfortable. That can be a major benefit if you’re a business traveler on an extended layover and you want to remain productive. You’ll have access to a table at which to sit, instead of balancing your laptop on your legs and fighting with other passengers for the charging station.
Or if you’d rather relax, the chairs are very comfortable and conducive to a quick nap. There are a few TVs — which you’re actually able to hear — and they offer food and drinks; premium lounges have upscale amenities such as showers, hair salons, and even oxygen bars.
Recently, the country’s three major airlines each implemented a little change to their pricing models that, if you’re not careful, can end up costing you a lot more per flight.
The change, says The New York Times, could make it up to seven times more expensive for those who fly what’s called an “open jaw” route.
That’s where you fly to a particular destination, but return home from a different one. For example, if you flew to Miami, but flew home from Orlando, that’s an “open jaw,” or multi-city flight.
We don’t want you to be caught unaware, so here are some things we suggest you do before you purchase a multi-city or open jaw ticket.
- Check into the cost of two one-way tickets. There’s a very good chance the two tickets will cost less than the one open-jaw flight. The example we saw in the Times story showed a $1200 price tag for a Jacksonville, FL to Los Angeles/San Francisco to Jacksonville. But as two separate tickets, it was $400. Read more
You’ve just found out from your boss that you’re being sent on your first business trip. Don’t panic — we’re here to help! Here are several tips we’ve compiled from our veteran road warriors to get you off on the right foot as you learn the ropes.
First, plan your trip according to your company’s policies. If you have an internal travel agent, make sure you connect with them to get your flights and hotels booked. If you need to handle this yourself, that’s a bonus! Investigate which airlines go where you need to go and consider becoming a loyalty member. There are numerous online reviews that will provide you with details about seat width, legroom, and on-time records.
A few things to consider: Try to pick an airline that you will make your favorite, since you could be flying with them for years. And don’t always pick the cheapest airlines out there. Some of them are the cheapest for a reason.
Download the carrier’s mobile app so you can check-in online and have your boarding pass right on your phone. Going paperless means you have one less thing to manage. The app will also alert you to any changes in your flight’s status.
If this is the first of what will become many business trips, invest in TSA’s PreCheck. It’s only $85, and it lasts for 5 years. That’s $17 per year of not wasting unnecessary time standing in the security lines.
Who hasn’t thought while standing in a slow-moving TSA security line, “Couldn’t somebody do this better than the federal government?” There actually is somebody, and there may be a way for your airport to replace the TSA with a private firm.
And after a very hectic travel summer, with reports of up-to-three-hour waits at some security lines, a lot of people started asking that question.
A relatively unknown program, actually operated by the TSA, called the Partnership Screening Program, allows the federal agency to receive bids from private security firms to replace the TSA’s services at the nation’s municipal airports. The private contractors provide screening under federal oversight, and must offer similar wages and benefits for their employees.
In fact, the option to fire the TSA dates back to the inception of the agency in 2002 after the September 11 terrorist attacks. At that time, five airports were allowed to contract with private firms as a way for Congress to assess and compare its approach with one offered by the private sector: San Francisco; Kansas City, MO; Rochester, NY; Tupelo, MS; and Jackson, WY.
Kansas City and San Francisco’s international airports were the only two major airports in that original five. But since then, 17 other regional airports around the country have fired the TSA and, with the exception of Kansas City, contracted with Trinity Technology Group, a Department of Homeland Security Safety Act certified company, for their security screening process. Kansas City works with Akal Security.
There are several categories of traveling business professionals: the occasional business traveler, the frequent flyer, and the road warrior. Road warriors spend significant portions of the work week traveling between clients, and have a few tricks up their collective sleeves that save them and their employers money.
The occasional traveler might still be learning the ropes, and don’t yet know all the tricks of the trade. But Insperity.com had a list of their most important ones, which we agree every business traveler should know.
First, fiscally responsible road warriors don’t incur expenses that aren’t reimbursable. They research their company’s travel and entertainment policies — the amount of their daily per diem, for example — and stick to them. This means they aren’t surprised by rejected submissions that leave them stuck with the bill.
Fiscally responsible road warriors know their corporation’s budgets for flights, hotels, meals, and entertaining clients. They seek pre-approval if they need to spend more than is typically allotted, and then proceed to execute their plan with confidence.
Fiscally responsible road warriors live by this simple axiom: time is money. They know they can’t afford to waste time standing in long security lines, so they apply for TSA’s Pre Check. Even if they only travel a few times each year, the $85 security preauthorization is good for five years, and more than pays for itself during that time. (If you’ve ever stood for two hours in a single security line, you’d be ecstatic to escape it for $85 just once!)
Whether you’re staying at a high-end resort or a budget motel, there are some aspects of staying in public accommodations that are universal. Everyone should do them, no matter in which part of the world you’re resting your head for the night.
Look for bedbugs. They’re hard to spot, but evidence of their infestation is not. Examine the mattress pad, comforter, and furniture for brown bloodstains, which are the fecal remains of the insects’ processing of the blood they ingest while you sleep. If you see evidence, ask for a new room. Bedbugs are not the kind of souvenir you’re looking for from any trip.
That light switch you’re about to flip is full of germs. Don’t touch it until you’ve sanitized it with a portable wipe or a washcloth from the bathroom that you’ve squirted with some liquid hand sanitizer. Wipe down the remote control, door handles, bedside clock radio, and phone. (Especially the remote control.)
Travel was pretty difficult for some this past summer, as the TSA struggled to clear long lines at the security checkpoints. Travelers faced waits as long as three hours, causing them to miss their flights. The ordeal was eventually sorted, and people were able to get to their destinations as usual.
But this problem could be avoided, said the TSA and a few Washington lawmakers, if the airlines would just get rid of their checked baggage fees.
Jeh Johnson, the head of Homeland Security, and TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger asked the nation’s airlines to consider waiving or eliminating baggage fees in order to encourage more people to check bags and alleviate the security process clogged by travelers who only have carry-ons.
Not surprisingly, the airlines said no. They’ve had these fees in place since 2007, and it’s how they have been able to remain profitable. How can you do your part to keep the security line moving? Here are some simple, practical reminders to consider:
- Apply for TSA PreCheck. Even if you only travel once a year, at $85 for five years’ certification, you’ll eliminate most of the hassle that comes with the regular TSA lines: you won’t have to take off your shoes or jacket, unpack your toiletries, or remove your laptop.
- Make sure your toiletries are the standard 3.4 ounces and that the bag you carry them in is transparent and accessible, like a kitchen reclosable bag.
- Wear slip-on shoes so you don’t hold up the line untying shoes or unzipping boots. If you can’t do this, loosen the laces or unzip the zipper so that you can ease your feet out quickly. Read more
Traveling with money is always a challenge, because there are twice as many ways to lose money as there are forms of payment. Not only can you just misplace it or leave it behind, but you’re also at risk of pickpockets and thieves, especially if you travel outside the United States.
So here are a few tips for managing your money while traveling on business, especially if you travel overseas.
Get a compatible credit card. The card you already carry may be used internationally with a simple call to the company to alert them of your travels, but a growing number of European and Asian countries now require a card with a built-in chip. If you are traveling on business and your company doesn’t supply you with a credit card for expenses, make sure your personal line of credit can be accessed without penalty. Then, get a personal card to be used only for business expenses, one that lets you rack up airline or hotel points. Additionally, use this card whenever possible, rather than making cash withdrawals overseas. Not only are the fees higher, the exchange rate is less favorable when you exchange it yourself.
Consider on-body storage. You may have been told that money belts are a safe way to carry money, but an experienced thief can recognize them immediately (hint: nobody wears a belt that thick). Instead, money belts and fanny packs broadcast to thieves that you’re not a local, which could increase your odds of being a victim. Consider a money pouch that hangs on your belt inside your pants, or a wallet that hangs around your neck inside your shirt. Just don’t go digging through it when you have to pay for an item; the whole point of on-body storage is for it to be a secret!
Gone are the days when airlines struggled just to stay
afloat aloft. Gas is plentiful and affordable, and profits are soaring. So why aren’t there more startup airlines available?
Bankruptcies and consolidations of existing airlines may be scaring off would-be entrepreneurs, although the typical triggers of price overreaches and abandoned regions by the bigger airlines haven’t spurred many to action.
The predominant problem seems to be the maturity of the industry, and the streamlined nature of the business overall. Four major carriers control 85 percent of the market share, so the battle for entry really boils down to one of real estate access.
Alex Wilcox, once an intern at Southwest and an executive for JetBlue and Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd., has found real estate available at airports in need of shorter flights. His new venture, JetSuite, has developed a business model based on charging travelers no more than $1 per mile of the flight and flying routes the larger airlines have abandoned. Most flights max out at $300.
The company bought 10 Embraer E-135s that had been part of the now-defunct American Eagle fleet, then spent $1 million each to retrofit them with new seats, wifi, power outlets, and other amenities. They’re focusing on providing expedited service, specifically targeting travelers who don’t want to deal with security delays at larger airports, and amenities typically found only in charter jet service in order to compete for customers.
What’s your number one worry as a business traveler? Most travelers say missing their flight is their top worry. But the other answers on a Booking.com survey are a bit surprising, especially when there are obvious ways to manage those anxieties (or at least the causes of them).
If you have any of these concerns cited by your fellow business travelers, maybe we can help you avoid them altogether. Most of these solutions come in the form of mobile apps, so fire up your wifi and see if you can find your solution online.
- Worrying about missing your flight? Download the app for your airline, especially when you’re getting ready for your trip. It will update you with any scheduling changes for your flight, and also let you check in 24 hours before your flight.
- Don’t know the language where you’re going? Take a little time, even if it’s on your flight, to familiarize yourself with a few key phrases and words with an app like DuoLingo. Next, get the Google Translate app, which can provide instantaneous translation of signs and menus. And remember, the natives of the country you’re visiting already know you’re not fluent in their language, but they appreciate any attempt you make to communicate in their tongue. Read more