It seems we can find ways to connect with the world, even from 30,000 feet. While flying used to be a no-wifi zone, connectivity is now available on 78 percent of US flights, according to an article on TravelWeekly.com.
This may be good for business travelers, but it can be bad for security while in-flight. According to Richard Blech, CEO of Secure Channels, a cyber defense firm, “The easiest way to look at this is that [wifi] is a public network, and public networks, in general, are not secure…If there is someone on the aircraft that wants to get into the network, they are going to get into the network.”
According to several security experts, something most travelers don’t consider when using onboard wifi is their proximity to others. “You’ve got three to five hours locked in, and everyone’s stationary,” Blech said. “That’s a world of time for a hacker.”
With this in mind, should you avoid logging on while flying? No, but common sense should prevail. Here are some tips for being mindful of a possible cyber threat while en route:
Business travelers run some pretty big risks when it comes to cybersecurity. If you’re like most people, you think nothing of pulling out your laptop in the airport or hotel, hopping on some free wifi, and getting some work done.
Except most public wifi networks are not very secure, and you run a big risk of getting hacked or downloading malware, which can wreak havoc with your computer and your life. People can also intercept messages and information flowing in and out of your computer, including emails and passwords.
There are a few things you should be doing already to make sure your electronics are already secure:
- Have a solid anti-virus program on your devices, and keep it up to date.
- Use a secure web browser with built-in security. That means Google Chrome or Firefox, not Internet Explorer.
- Only use complex passwords with letters, numbers, and special characters in random order. Not your kids’ names, pets’ names, or swapping out ‘@’ for ‘a.’ Use a password vault like 1Password to keep track of your passwords.
- Turn on two-factor authentication whenever possible. This is a code that gets sent to your mobile phone, which you have to enter during the login process. No code, no entry. LinkedIn, Gmail, and Evernote all use two-factor authentication.
- Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) whenever you go online.
This last one is a good idea whenever you fire up your computer, but it’s definitely important when you’re out of the office.
Now that most companies are working under a new fiscal year, you may find you need to stretch this year’s business travel budget a little further than before. Here are some of our favorite budget-saving techniques for making the most of your business travel dollars.
Look for hidden costs, and be wary of special “savings.” What looks like a savings could actually increase your costs in the long run. For example, you may find a cheaper hotel on the other side of town from your big meeting, but the commute will eat up the savings in taxi or Uber fees.
Similarly, if three people are visiting a client together, but all book travel separately, all three have to get to the hotel or client on their own. Even if the flights are cheaper, you may be able to reduce costs if everyone coordinates rides to and from the airport, and even stay in the same hotel. Some hotels will give discounts for multiple rooms, so call the hotel directly and ask for the sales desk.
Use technology whenever possible. There are a variety of mobile apps to help you keep track of expenses, such as apps that let you take photos of your receipts and build expense reports as you go. This eliminates the need to save all your receipts throughout the trip, and risk losing any. You can even export your reports and quickly share them with your finance department when you get back to the office.
Getting sick when you’re at home is bad enough. But to get sick while you’re on a business trip? That’s the worst! You don’t have access to your own bed or your favorite pillow, and you don’t have access to your doctor or favorite pharmacy.
So what should you do if you get sick while you’re on the road?
First, be attentive to your body and your symptoms. If your stomach is sensitive, don’t automatically assume it’s a stomach virus. However, be careful of what and where you eat. Test the severity of your situation by seeing if you can keep down some simple food like a banana, a piece of toast, or some tea without things getting worse. Get your favorite over-the-counter antidote for an upset stomach during the day so you have a potential remedy in case you need it in the middle of the night. Alert fellow travelers or your meeting partners so someone knows to check on you if you don’t show up for the scheduled event the next day.
Sometimes you may think you’re sick when you’re really just overtired. Try to get as much sleep as possible and reassess in the morning. If you haven’t been sleeping in the weeks leading up to your business trip, get as much as you can a couple days before you leave. If you’re too tired, you’re more susceptible to illness.
If the illness progresses and you need to see a doctor, know what your insurance will cover. Don’t leave home without your requisite cards, call your provider in advance to be sure the visit will be covered, and inquire at the front desk or with your in-town contacts to see where urgent care services are located.
For years, customers have complained about the increasing discomforts of flying: the ever-shrinking seat size and legroom, lack of food options, and other amenities. One airline even boldly touts that its seats don’t recline! (Actually, that might not be an entirely bad thing, having ridden with people’s seatbacks in our laps before.)
So it’s no surprise that the major carriers are looking to position themselves as being attentive to their passengers’ comfort needs. United recently unveiled its p.s. (premium service) option and now Delta has announced its own Premium Economy program to bring customers more comfort when they travel.
Premium Economy will premiere later this year when the company’s A350 aircrafts are introduced into the fleet. In these new planes, Premium Economy will have 48 seats and will only be available on specific international flights.
The most luxurious of all Delta’s enhanced seat offerings, Premium Economy will have a dedicated cabin and attendants, up to 38 inches of seat pitch, up to 19 inches seat width, and up to nine inches of recline. Currently, according to SeatGuru, the standard economy seat average is between 31 and 34 with a 17- to 18.5-inch width.
The seating will also feature adjustable head and foot rests, as well as name brand amenities, pre-flight drink service, special meal service, and a 13.3-inch seatback entertainment screen. Premium Economy passengers will also have priority security clearance, check-in, boarding, and baggage handling.
Even if you’re an experienced business traveler, there are a few little things you can do to make your next travel experience more expedient, efficient, and economical. Based on our own experiences, as well as those of some of our customers, these are a few travel hacks you can do to save money, time, and your sanity.
Pay premium for the direct flight. The old axiom is true: time is money. And if you’re a business traveler, you’re losing money while you’re in transit, which means you need to find a way to shorten that time. Traveling more legs than necessary just to save money actually decreases your productivity, which costs you more money in the long run.
Every segment you add to a flight also increases the risk of delay or cancellation, which costs time as well as energy. Plus, those who book full-fare tickets, even if they’re in economy, are more likely to get an upgrade if it’s available because the gate agent will know the price you paid by a code on the ticket. Remember, if you get to your destination sooner, you can start working sooner.
Negotiate with car rental agencies. Did you even know you could do this? According to some of our experienced business travelers, you can. While premium cars are more expensive, rental agents may be willing to negotiate if there are available cars in this category, and if they’re not pressed for time with lots of customers behind you.
Delta has just added another way its SkyMiles members can accrue points toward reward travel, and you can get them just by sleeping on your next trip. Besides booking flights and making purchases with a Delta credit card, now members can earn points when they choose Airbnb as their lodging. Members must book lodging through deltaairbnb.com, and earn one mile for every dollar they spend.
We’ve been fans of Airbnb for a
and recently talked about how Airbnb is returning to its roots and working to attract business travelers.
The arrangement has benefits for new Airbnb members too who are looking to “Fly Global, Live Local,” with $25 credit earned toward any stay totaling $75 or more if they book via the Delta dedicated site within 60 days of opening a new Airbnb account. In addition to the flat mile per dollar deal, those whose stay totals $75 will earn an extra 500 miles, and those whose stay totals $150 or more will earn 1000 extra miles.
The benefits aren’t just one-sided. New Airbnb hosts can incent their potential customers by advertising the partnership and can accumulate miles with Delta in the following increments:
All that time you spend waiting for your flight, sitting on the plane, and commuting to your hotel can be productive time instead of wasted time. You just need to develop a strategy and create the proper mindset. Here are some tips to help you stay productive while traveling.
Plan ahead. You may be geared up to empty your inbox, but if your laptop’s not charged, you aren’t going to make much headway. Be sure to download any documents you need before you leave in order to accomplish a task you’ve relegated to be completed en route. This eliminates the need for wifi or using your mobile hotspot.
Use the time you have wisely. If you’re in a crowded gate or you have a limited amount of time, now is not the time to read through correspondence or memos that require your full attention. Choose some B-level items to check off your to-do list, like those articles you’ve meant to skim for the last six months, and you’ll actually be more effective than if you try to tackle something that requires serious time and concentration.
Determine to focus. Yes, distractions are hard to tune out, but if you put yourself in that mindset, you can do it. Soon, you’ll find they’re calling your flight and you have more things accomplished — and time flew by — because you were able to shut out the distractions.
It can be the ripple effect of a storm or a part that needs to be replaced that they’re waiting to arrive on an incoming flight or some other situation that is completely out of your control. Whatever the reason, when you learn your flight is about to be delayed for many hours, that is not the time to think about how you’re going to weather the situation. You should plan ahead.
Here are a few tips for surviving those dreaded crazy long flight delays.
Be prepared before you leave home. I don’t mean you have to try to figure out how to fit a sleeping bag in your carry on, but if you plan to have a few items with you, you’ll be in better shape than most to ride out the wait.
For women, think about incorporating a blanket scarf into your wardrobe choices so that it’s already in your luggage and can serve as a true blanket if you have to bed down on the floor or create a makeshift bed at the gate. Some fuzzy socks will keep your feet warm and a toothbrush and toothpaste will help you feel mostly human and not offensive to others, should you have to spend the night in the terminal.
There are two schools of thought regarding cyber attacks: everyone’s at risk and I’m too small for anyone to tap. One is smart thinking, the other is dangerous.
According to Jeff Moss, founder of Black Hat and Def Con, two of the world’s foremost conferences on hacking and information security, and an advisor to the Department of Homeland Security, you’re better off assuming the first than believing the second. Here’s his advice for protecting yourself from cyber threats while traveling.
Use your passport instead of your driver’s license when asked to provide identification. The driver’s license, according to Moss, contains too much information, specifically your address and descriptive features like weight, height, sex, and eye color, that can be used against you if obtained by a hacker.
Don’t leave your devices unattended. While most people assume their hotel room is secure because of the lock on the door, Moss doesn’t feel comfortable with the risk unless his laptop’s hard drive is fully encrypted. He doesn’t want to give anyone access to sensitive, proprietary data should the computer be stolen while he’s away from the room.