How Tech Has Transformed Business Travelers’ Productivity

January 9, 2018 by · 1 Comment 

If you were taking bets on whether business travelers would say their time on the road boosted their productivity, would you wager that a large percentage says it does? Or do you think most people say their travels have cut into their productivity?

If you said the former, you’d be right. According to a survey by Carlson Wagonlit Travel, 80 percent of business travelers claim that technology has greatly increased their ability to get work done while away from the office.

(Part of it may also be from not having to attend so many meetings.)

Many business travelers take their laptops with them to get work done.With a smartphone, a tablet, or a laptop — the top three “travel tools” business travelers declared they couldn’t live without — no longer do people lament over lost time spent en route to clients. The advent of wifi in the sky and almost everywhere in between, downtime is almost a thing of the past. Business travelers utilize flight time and layovers, as well as time in hotel rooms to catch up on correspondence, complete proposals, and send documents wirelessly to keep projects on schedule.

“The business traveler can be so much more productive than even five years ago thanks to technology,” said Simon Nowroz, Carlson Wagonlit Travel’s CMO told Travelpulse.com, a travel news site. “Think about the advances where a business traveler used to have so much down time between a flight, taxi and hotel. Now, they can log in and work while on the plane or wherever they happen to be. With the continued emergence of the tablet, as well as numerous apps, travelers don’t feel out of touch as they carry out business.”

This ability to continue working whenever and wherever has prompted many — 78 percent — to actively seek ways to travel for business. Nearly nine of 10 survey respondents also claimed that they gained significant knowledge and perspective as a result of their business travels.

How do these road warriors stay connected while away from the office? Email is still the prevalent method of communication with 44 percent selecting it as their primary means of keeping in touch. Surprisingly, nearly 24 percent make phone calls while only 14 percent prefer to text important information to those back at the office.

Three other modes of technology cited as helpful in maintaining connectedness with loved ones were phone calls (44 percent), Skype (24 percent), and texting (14 percent).

Business travelers, do you stay more productive when you’re on the road? Or do you find that you lose productive work time because of time in the car or in the air? How do you stay in touch with loved ones and the office while you’re traveling? Share your ideas with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: ChrisDag (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)

American, Delta Ban Smart Luggage If Batteries Are Not Removable

January 4, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

If you received smart luggage for Christmas, we don’t mean to spoil your new year, but three major airlines — American, Alaska, and Delta — have already banned suitcases and carry-on bags that are equipped with integrated lithium-ion batteries and external charging ports.

In short, if you cannot remove your battery from your smart luggage, you can’t use the bag on those airlines.

Smart luggage: Crew Executive Choice 2 Backpack has a built-in phone charger. You supply the power pack though.

Crew Executive Choice 2 Backpack – with REMOVABLE phone charger

If you bring your luggage into the cabin, you can leave the battery in place, but you must have the option to remove it in case the airline needs to move everyone to a smaller plane.

The airlines cited concerns about inflight fires, as happened with the now-famous Galaxy Note 7 smartphones and kids’ hoverboards. You may also remember the Federal Aviation Administration’s short-lived ban on laptops with the same batteries in cargo holds on incoming international flights.

The ban goes into effect January 15 on American, Delta, and Alaska Airlines, even as United Airlines says they will soon follow; Southwest Airlines is reviewing their policy as well. Delta’s statement cited “the potential for the powerful batteries to overheat and pose a fire hazard risk during flight.” American declared its internal safety team evaluated these bags for necessary “risk mitigation” and deemed they “pose a risk when they are placed in the cargo hold of an aircraft.”

Smart luggage: Travelpro Crew 11 USB Port

The Crew 11’s built-in power port is a great way to keep your mobile devices powered up and ready to go, but you can still remove the battery.

Before you return your smart luggage, make sure your replacement bag has the option where the battery can be removed or disconnected. Even if you toss the battery into the main compartment of the luggage, you can carry the bag onto the plane with you. But it has to be removable.

Travelpro has two Collections which feature a dedicated exterior power bank battery pocket which allows users to insert their own battery, connect a charging cable, and make use of an external USB port. Because the battery is not provided by the company, nor is it integrated into the hardware of the suitcase’s frame, travelers can remove it at any time within seconds. This puts all Travelpro’s luggage in compliance with any airline or FAA policy, current or future.

The collections which feature the dedicated power bank exterior pocket and external USB port include:

  • Crew™ 11 Softside and Hardside Collections, available in various carry-on models including the 21″ Expandable Spinner and 22″ Expandable Rollaboard® Suiter
  • Crew™ Executive Choice™ 2 Collection which includes a Pilot Brief, Checkpoint Friendly Backpack and Wheeled Brief

The FAA has a longstanding policy of banning spare lithium-ion batteries in checked luggage, while allowing passengers to stow them in carryons.

Did you get a smart bag for the holidays? How does this news impact you?on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Top Five Little-Known Travel Apps for Business Travelers

December 26, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

When a traveler who has logged 2 million air miles and stayed 1,000 nights in a hotel offers his top five travel apps, you listen. Thanks to Maurice Freedman for sharing his “Swiss Army Knife suite of travel apps” to help all of us amateurs experience travel like a pro.

Freedman’s first app is stayconnect. It may seem like a small luxury, but being able to control the television in your hotel room without touching the remote could save you from picking up some unwanted germs. It doesn’t work in all hotels, but the 600,000 where it does makes it a worthy addition to your phone. (Plus it may help you change TV stations at a restaurant or coffee shop.)

Mobile phone being used by a woman with red painted fingernails, accessing her travel appsYou don’t have to depend on the hotel’s concierge for restaurant recommendations or to get reservations if you have the OpenTable app. You can search by location, cuisine, or price, and reserving a table is simple as pie. You can book and cancel without penalty too, which is great when your plans change on a dime. The only downside to this app is that not all dining establishments use it.

Don’t want to leave your hotel room to eat because you’re already in your comfy clothes for the night? Room service is not your only option. With Seamless, you can scroll through over 12,000 delivery menus for restaurants with 80+ kinds of cuisines, pay online (including tip), and then sit back and wait for your food to come right to your door.

If your phone comes with a weather app, you may question Freedman’s next recommendation. But does your weather app tell you when it’s going to rain in your specific location and how long you can expect that precipitation to inconvenience you? If you purchase Dark Sky, you won’t be caught without an umbrella when you need it, and you can set it to notify you at a specific time each day so that you know whether to expect blue or cloudy skies.

Texting is great until you have to leave the country. Then how do you communicate if your phone plan doesn’t cover international travel? What’sApp is your perfect solution. It works regardless of carrier or phone type and over one BILLION people enjoy its free service. All you need is wifi or a data plan to talk, text, or share locations.

What are your favorite little-known travel apps? What have you been using on your most recent travels? What’s the most esoteric-but-useful one on your mobile phone? Share your best travel apps with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Skeeze (Pixabay, Creative Commons)

Five Ways to Stay Healthy While Traveling

December 21, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Those who travel regularly know that maintaining their routines helps them be at their best. If you’re an infrequent traveler, here are the top five things you need to do while on your business trip to come home as healthy as you left.

Eat right. When we’re away from home, we’re out of our comfort zone. We’re with people we don’t know well, and we’re navigating a different city and its unique dynamics. While food is often equated with comfort, don’t buy into the myth. If anything, try to eat healthier while you’re away from home than you do when you’re at home. Don’t eat the heaviest meal, just because it’s on the company’s dime. Eating fruits and vegetables will help your digestion and keep you from feeling uncomfortable or run down.

Avoid alcohol. Not to be a killjoy, but we all know that consuming alcohol decreases your mental sharpness and gives your body one more thing to try to process while out of its normal rhythms.

A hotel gym is a great way to work out and help stay healthy.

The gym at the Onego Palace Hotel (Intourist Hotel Group) in Petrozavodsk (Republic of Karelia, Russia)

Exercise. Keep doing it. If you belong to a fitness chain or franchise at home, you can usually go to the same one in whatever city you’re visiting without paying any more. If you work out at home, use the hotel’s gym or pack whatever you need to work out in your room. No need to lose momentum just because you’re out of town. If you’re not an exerciser, consider making choices that will increase your physical activity, like taking the stairs to and from the lobby of your hotel or office, getting outside for a walk at lunch or after dinner. Even these small periods of movement will help alleviate stress and stretch muscles often kinked from sleeping in an unfamiliar bed or sitting too long in a meeting.

Get enough sleep. Be sure you get enough rest each night. While getting enough shut-eye in a hotel can be difficult, give yourself the best possible odds by doing a few things. Don’t eat too late. Late-night digestion can keep you from getting into REM sleep. Don’t stare at screens. Turning off your devices and the television 30 minutes before you retire will signal your body to begin shutting down for the day. Use a white noise generating app to drown out the unfamiliar sounds of your environment (or just the loud blower on the heater) to help you go to sleep.

Stay hydrated. If you’re not in the habit of drinking water throughout the day, pick up a bottle and make yourself drink it. Flying dehydrates us, and when we don’t give our systems enough water, they just don’t function as well as they need to. Coffee, soda, and fruit juice may be liquids, but they’re not as good as water when it comes to proper hydration, so stick with the H2O as much as possible.

All these tips are really just common sense, but it will take some planning to incorporate them into your trip. Be good to yourself and treat yourself well by trying to stay healthy. Life isn’t all about work, and you want to stay healthy for the downtime you’ll have earned by the time you get home.

How do you stay healthy when you’re traveling? Do you have any special strategies or tricks? Tell us about them in the comments below, on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Онега Палас (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 4.0)

Seven Questions To Ask Before Your Next Air Travel

December 19, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Whether you’re a frequent flyer or an occasional traveler, the old adage applies: Forewarned is forearmed. With amenities varying widely by carrier, it’s important to ask these seven questions before your next air travel to make sure you’re getting the best possible deal and most amenities.

Is the flight refundable? Most airlines charge you to change your flight, and the only way to avoid this is to book business or first class or book using points or miles. In the event you do need to change your flight, try picking up the phone and calling the airline instead of attempting to navigate its system online. Each carrier also has a Twitter account, which can also help you cut through the red tape and get your situation resolved quickly.

An Air France flight, a nice plane for international air travelWill I earn frequent flyer miles on this flight? Contrary to what you think, not all flights automatically qualify for a carrier’s frequent flyer program. By using Google’s ITA Matrix and wheretocredit.com, you can search for your flight’s booking class, which is what the airline uses to apply credit to its reward programs. Keep in mind that you’ll need to apply to an airline’s rewards program first in order to earn miles.

What’s included? What’s not included? Many used car dealers used the phrase, “no ups, no extras” when quoting a price to a prospective buyer. That meant the list price was the price. Not so in today’s world of budget airlines! If you’re wondering how the ticket price could be so low, investigate what’s not included and you’ll find the rest of your fare. It’s not uncommon to be charged for checking luggage, gaining access to overhead bins, and eating. If you know you’ll need to check a bag, add it on when you purchase your ticket. It will only get more expensive to do so when you check in online, or when you do so at the airport the day of the flight.

How much legroom does a particular seat offer? If this is an important detail for your air travel itinerary, I recommend Legroom for Google Flights Chrome extension, which not only reveals how much room you’ll have between your seat and the next row but also what the flight’s carry-on restrictions and amenities are. Seatguru.com also offers information about seat width and pitch so you can determine how comfortable you will be while en route.

What happens if I’m delayed? A delayed flight is inconvenient, but if you book your flight using a premium credit card, any additional expenses you incur — an overnight at a hotel, meals, and even cash to cover booking a new flight — may be covered by the insurance the card provides to members. If you don’t do air travel regularly and don’t want to carry a credit card with a high annual fee, you can still purchase flight insurance for peace of mind.

Where does my flight originate and where does it land? While this may seem like a strange question, it’s extremely important to know, especially when your air travel takes you through an unfamiliar city. You may think you’re booking your flight through the city’s main airport, but what if you’re wrong? New York and Chicago each boasts two airports, while many foreign cities, such as London, have multiple airports. Not knowing where your flight originates could cost you dearly — you might even miss your flight entirely. Being knowledgeable about the city and your airport is crucial for a smooth experience.

Do I need to print my boarding pass? In this age of technology and mobile apps, you’d think this was a silly question, but some low-cost carriers require a printed boarding pass and may charge you anywhere between $10 – $20 to do so! Having an online version will not get you on the flight, so be sure to print it at home, or know you’re going to be charged for that precious document.

What are some of your air travel questions and preparations? What will make you buy or not buy a particular ticket? Tell us about it in the comments below, on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Skeeze (Pixabay, Creative Commons 0)

Air Vents, Status Challenges, and Other Flying Tips

December 12, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Whether you are a platinum member of one of the major airlines or someone who only travels occasionally, air travel has become the gauntlet travelers feel they must run before they can enjoy their trip. If you want your time in the air to be as comfortable and enjoyable as possible, here are a few flying tips to increase your likelihood, even if you can’t fly first class.

One of our favorite flying tips: Point air vents like these in your general vicinity but not directly on you. It keeps germs away from your face.1. Leave the air vents open and aimed in your general vicinity. While you’ve probably heard horror stories about the germs that are present in the recycled air, it turns out that the circulation of that air could actually help ward off germs. According to Dr. Mark Gendreau, the medical director and vice chair of emergency medicine at Lahey Medical Center-Peabody in Massachusetts, ventilation is key to keeping airborne germs at bay. “For airborne viruses, it is incredibly important to ventilate, since ventilation becomes your main means of control besides isolating the affected person,” Gendreau told Travel + Leisure.

2. Be loyal to an airline. When you commit to flying with a single airline and you enroll in the carrier’s loyalty program, you begin to qualify for upgrades and free baggage as your miles rack up. Airlines reward repeat business, so you should take advantage of the offer. The flights may cost a little more than shopping around, but the rewards can sometimes make the extra costs worth it.

3. If you’re a frequent flyer trying to earn a certain status with an airline, ask about the status challenge the next time you have a busy month of travel. Never heard of the status challenge? It’s not widely advertised, but it does exist. If you fly with American, for example, in order to qualify for platinum status, you have to fly 50,000 and spend $6,000 with them. If you ask customer service to take the status challenge, you have 90 days to fly 12,500 miles and spend $2,000. If you complete the challenge, you’re granted platinum status for the remainder of the year and the following calendar year. Be sure to check the fine print, though, because airlines don’t want to make this easy and may tack on some fees.

4. Pay for as much as possible with an airline’s credit card. It seems every credit card has perks these days, but airline credit card perks pay off in meaningful ways when you travel — free checked bags, earned miles, upgrades, and airport lounge access (which can really come in handy when there’s a weather-related delay). If you pay for your airplane ticket with your airline credit card, you usually get extra miles for that, and you want to make the most of every purchase, don’t you?

5. After you’ve downloaded your airline’s app to your phone, sign up for text notifications about your flight. You’ll automatically be notified about gate changes, delays, and what time your flight boards, making you more nimble that your less-informed fellow travelers in the event of a change in the itinerary.

What are some of your favorite flying tips? What advice would you share with your fellow travelers? Share them with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Xianxing (Wikimedia Commons, GNU Free Documentation License)

Four Tips for Finding Cheaper Flights

December 7, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

If you’re trying to keep your travel budget under, well, budget, there are always ways of finding cheaper flights than the ones you might normally take.

1. Book early. While this may seem like a no-brainer, many people are hesitant to lock in a fare too far ahead of their planned departure. The best prices are typically found when you book 21 days before you want to leave. If you can plan three months out or if you don’t feel like you can commit until 30 days beforehand, choose whichever timeline works for you and stick to it.

If you’re skeptical about this, trust the math. Google Flights and Kayak are two online platforms that have built-in algorithms that use historical data to predict a flight’s price. While not foolproof, it’s more accurate than trusting your brain to remember all the numbers you’re comparing.

JetBlue Airways is one of your options for cheaper flights.2. Be flexible. Since we’re talking about looking ahead and planning your trip, could you leave on a Monday instead of a Sunday? You might be surprised to learn that doing so could save you money. Also, flying in and out of a different airport than the one closest to you may seem like more of an inconvenience than a perk, but again, do the math. If a group of five needs to get somewhere and you could save $30/ticket by flying out of an alternative airport, that savings could be applied to a hotel night or car rental or meals. When you search for your cheaper flights, leave it up to the computer to find the lowest prices and let it dictate your schedule.

3. If you have more time than money, you could also save by booking a connecting flight instead of choosing to fly nonstop. Flying at times that aren’t peak, such as early morning or later in the evening may also result in savings. These especially work to your advantage if you’re flying to an earlier time zone, say Atlanta to Los Angeles. Atlanta is three hours ahead of LA, so if it’s 8 p.m. in Atlanta, it’s only 5 p.m. in California. You’ll arrive around 10 p.m., adjust to the time difference while you sleep, and wake ready to work the next day.

4. While you’re comparing destinations, compare carriers as well. While Spirit’s no-frills travel experience is well documented, other discount airlines such as JetBlue, Southwest, and other regional airlines could offer a better deal than one of the major carriers. While you’re comparing, don’t just take the price from the airline’s website; use at least one third-party platform, such as Priceline, Google Flights, or Travelocity. Beware, though! Read the fine print to make sure there aren’t hidden fees that would cost you all the savings you’ve worked so hard to find.

Traveling can be expensive, but with some savvy planning and saving, it can be less costly and more enjoyable than you think.

How do you find your cheaper flights? Do you have any special strategies or tricks? Share them with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Eric Salard (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 2.0)

Do You Live in a State that Will Require Alternate ID to Fly in 2020?

December 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

If you live in one of 24 states, your state-issued driver’s license may not get you on a flight, even for domestic travel, starting on October 10, 2020, and you may need an alternate ID like a passport.

In 2005, Congress passed The REAL ID Act, which was the standardization of the nation’s issuing of state identification to limit terrorism. Although it has been 12 years since its enactment, and the latest extension deadline expired October 10, 2017, nearly half of the United States are still grappling with how to comply with the mandated standards for issuing state IDs.

The only way around this law is if you have a valid passport or other valid alternate ID; then you’re able to fly, regardless of your state’s compliance with REAL ID.

A REAL ID sign at a U.S. airport. If you don't have a REAL ID, you'll need an alternate ID instead, like a passport.This could impact millions of Americans’ access to air travel is because the legislation makes it illegal for those who operate federal facilities to accept non-compliant, state-issued identification to access federal agencies, enter nuclear power plants, or board federally regulated aircraft. This means that the TSA cannot allow those with non-compliant IDs to board federally regulated airplanes because their states have not met the Act’s “minimum standards.”

Those minimum standards require states to incorporate technology into its cards that makes them nearly impossible to counterfeit. States must also prove that they conduct background checks on all personnel who issue driver’s licenses on its behalf. These standards have raised issues in many states about personal privacy. But with the final stage of implementation affecting residents’ ability to travel by air, most states have scrambled to submit applications for extensions.

The final stage of implementation begins January 22, 2018. States that are already in compliance will not be impacted by this date, and those states with an active or “under review” extension won’t be penalized.

If you want to know if you live in one of the 24 states that are not compliant, check out this article in the Washington Post. If you don’t want to hold a federally approved ID, there are 15 other forms of alternate ID that TSA will accept when you travel.

Are you in a state that is already compliant, or are you in one of the 24 affected states? How will you cope if your state doesn’t comply before the deadline? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

This is a compliance map of all states as of November 7, 2017. Some states still require an alternate ID.

This is a compliance map of all states as of November 7, 2017. Light green states have asked for an extension, dark green are in compliance.

Photo credit (REAL ID airport sign): Cory Doctorow (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)
Photo credit (REAL ID compliance map): Kurykh (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 3.0)

Travel Etiquette: 5 Controversial Rules You Might Be Violating

November 23, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Societal rules are changing all the time, so we thought you might appreciate this brief “update” so you’re not unknowingly violating travel etiquette. If you decide to be a rogue traveler and commit these faux pas after you read this article, don’t say we didn’t warn you.

  1. Did you know that there are designated armrests for each passenger’s seat? According to travel etiquette expert (who knew there were such people?) Christin Fraga, Director of Operations, Elaine Swann Enterprises: “When it comes to armrests, it is one armrest per passenger. Typically the armrest that has your media and electrical outlets will be the one you use.” Fraga suggests politely engaging your seat mate to reach a compromise if there are any issues. We’ve also heard that the person in the middle seat is entitled to both armrests since they’re the ones sandwiched in the middle, and the aisle and window seats already have one.
  2. Air travel has a lot of travel etiquette rules.

  3. To recline or not recline? The seats were made to do so, so why is it so controversial? Many infrequent travelers do not understand what reclining the seat does to the person behind them, particularly during food and beverage service. While some wait until after that portion of the trip to push their seat’s button, others are utilizing its function before takeoff. Etiquette expert Courtney Fadler says: “Unless you are on a very long cross-country or international flight, the best etiquette rule of thumb is not to recline your seat . . . If you are on a very long flight and will be reclining your seat for sleep or otherwise, make sure the person behind you is not in the middle of eating their dinner on the tray table before you recline. You can even take that extra step of consideration, and ask them if it’s okay if you recline your seat for a while.”
  4. We learned it in elementary school to never, ever cut the line. That still holds true, even if you have to do it to make your flight. We’ve all had times when circumstances happened that were beyond our control, and in those situations you stand a better chance of avoiding the ire of fellow travelers if you explain your situation and ask politely if you could go ahead of them. Most will take pity on you and allow you to pass. If you want to “cut to the chase,” you should talk to a TSA agent and — again, politely — explain your situation to see if they can assist you. And remember to express your thanks to those who help you.
  5. Have you ever been approached by someone who wants you to consider switching seats with them so that they can sit by their traveling companion? This is not something anyone should assume a fellow passenger will be willing to accommodate. If the seat is one they paid extra for — Economy Plus, for example — you need to be aware that the odds are very good that they chose (and paid for) that seat deliberately, and they aren’t interested in switching with you to make you more comfortable about the fact that their child or elderly parent is sitting without them. You can ask politely, but don’t expect them to change, especially if the seat you’re offering them isn’t the same as the one they chose, for example, an aisle seat for an aisle seat. Think about how you would feel before making an issue of this with the flight attendant.
  6. Some people love talking with strangers. Others have enough trouble dealing with the infringement of their personal space due to an airplane’s close quarters. Before you strike up a conversation with a seat mate, take a few moments to assess their nonverbal communication. If they have a book or other reading material already on their lap, or an eye mask or headphones in the seat pocket, ready to go, take the cue: they don’t want to be engaged. If you’re sitting next to someone who has not read the cues, take a tip from the Emily Post Institute: Smile and say, “Well, it’s been nice speaking with you. I’m going to read for a bit now.”

What are some of your travel etiquette rules you always try to follow? Were any of these new to you, or are they tried and true rules of the road? Share your stories in the comments below, on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Matthew Hurst (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)

Consider Joining an Independent Airport Lounge, Even for a Day

November 21, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

You may be one of those travelers who lingers by the door to an airline’s lounge, hoping to catch a glimpse of the quiet, serene atmosphere you’ve heard others boast about. If you’re not a frequent-enough traveler to gain entry based on your status, did you know there are independently operated airport lounges that you can join through an annual membership program, or even just for the day?

While airline lounges have been around for 70 years, the independent environments have only recently begun to populate larger US airports. They fulfill the idea that some airlines are too small to operate lounges of their own, and there are always travelers willing to pay for some privacy, food, and beverages.

The cost can be as low as $25 for a day pass or as much as $50, so how do you determine whether the experience is worth the price? Here’s a list of things to consider:

The Gardermoen Airport Lounge in Oslo, Norway

The Gardermoen Airport Lounge in Oslo, Norway

  1. How long am I going to stay in this airport? If the answer is more than an hour and you’d like to eat, drink (free alcohol is served), work, or even nap, the lounge might be a better deal than finding a restaurant for food and making room for your laptop on the table.
  2. Do I need a quiet place to make an important call? If a deal is on the line and you have crucial business to discuss, do you really want to do that in the waiting room while the gate attendant is making announcements? Besides free wifi, these independent lounges offer laptops, sometimes printers, and dedicated workspaces. If you are on your way to visit a client, the use of a private restroom that may have a shower might be just what you need to make the best impression when you arrive.
  3. I mentioned food above, and let me provide you with some casual cost analysis here. The cost of an average cocktail at an airport bar is easily $10, and these lounges offer more than just peanuts and pretzels. The complementary (sometimes hot) food could constitute a light meal, tiding you over until you get home or to your final destination. If there’s a weather delay, you won’t be standing in line with everybody else, juggling your carry-on and other items while trying to get a bite to eat. You’ll be able to actually eat at a table or at a bar, instead of balancing your meal on your knees in that crowded waiting area.

The leading US provider of these independent lounges is The Club, with locations in Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Las Vegas, Orlando, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Jose, and Seattle-Tacoma airports. Day passes are $40, and, as with all airport lounges, you must show a boarding pass for same-day departure to enter.

Most travelers gain access to both carrier-operated and independent lounges through Priority Pass. Its arrangements with over 1,000 establishments make it the leader in the lounge membership business. Priority Pass offers three levels of membership: standard: $99/year with unlimited visits at $27 each; standard plus: $249/year with 10 free visits plus additional visits at $27 each; and prestige: $399/year for unlimited visits. Priority Pass has locations available at 21 US airports.

They say membership has its privileges, and that’s certainly true if you hold specific credit cards. With an American Express Platinum, Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Ritz-Carlton, and MasterCard Black, your Priority Pass membership is included.

To lounge or not to lounge? That may still be your question. But with this information,  hopefully you may have your answer.

Are you a lounge member? Do you partake, or are you thinking about it? Share your stories in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: TravelingOtter (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 2.0)

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