So you’re traveling for business. What does that mean for you? What benefits can you receive when traveling for business? What is the proper way to act? Here are a few favorite tips and tricks gathered from business travelers all over the United States:
Flying today isn’t what it used to be like during the heyday of flying in the 60’s. Now if you’re stuck in economy you’re subjected to crying babies, the kid behind you kicking your seat, not enough leg room, small seats, gross food and more. In this type of environment, who wouldn’t want an upgrade to business or first class?
Business and first class have more room, less children and better food. Typically business and first class also come with airline lounge passes you can use as a place to relax before your flight, or take advantage of the free wifi to get some work done. Here are some suggestions from business travelers on how to get a free upgrade:
“You’ve got a better chance of upgrading to business class by booking a flight on bank holidays and at other times of the year when business users are less likely to fly, as the seats tend not to be taken up.”
“Simply join the airline’s loyalty program. Even if it’s at the lowest level, you’ll get rewarded first. Make sure you get a card for each partnership accordingly.” (this is talked about further below.)
“Check your email. I sometimes receive offers about cheap (not free) upgrades to business or first class a few days before my flight. Be sure not to miss these.”
“Be nice. You’d be surprised how far just being nice to someone will get you in life, especially in airports with staff. If there is an upgrade opening, the staff is more likely to choose you over someone who was rude to them just a few minutes before.”
And finally, “Just ask. It doesn’t hurt to ask for an upgrade once you get to your gate. Just simply go up to the agent and ask if any free upgrades are available. You never know, and it might just be your lucky day!”
These same suggestions can apply to hotel rewards too.
There is nothing worse than over packing, especially now with baggage fees being through the roof. You want to pack smarter, not harder. A few popular tips and tricks from our business travels are:
“Put your socks and underwear into your shoes to save on space.”
“On short trips, try to pack clothes that require only one or two pairs of shoes and for men, a single color of socks.”
“Keep extra mouthwash and toothpaste and cell phone charger in carry-on bags, in case you need to access them while in the airport or onboard.”
“The key thing for business travel is frequent flier programs,” One frequent flier said. “You want to be brand loyal so you can get that elite status and have access to more perks and upgrades.” By signing up for frequent flier programs, you get to accumulate your miles traveled each trip. These accumulated miles can turn into rewards once you hit a certain amount. Rewards include (depending on your airline of choice) physical items such as cameras, laptops, travel gear, etc. Rewards can also be used for rental cars and hotels. The best of all in our opinion though is free or reduced award travel. Say over your last 3 trips you have earned 25,000 miles. On most US airlines this will get you a free (not including the 5.60 one way September 11 security fee) one-way trip to (almost) anywhere in the US. You earned a free trip that you can use for personal use by just signing up for the award program. Unless your company doesn’t allow you to collect on business travel miles, you should be taking advantage of this.
Another way to collect on easy rewards is an airline credit card or hotel credit card. These are designed to let you earn rewards every time you use the card. Most (US carriers) offer 1 point, or mile, per 1 dollar spent or 2 points, or miles, per dollar spent with the airline (this includes food or drink you buy once onboard, not just tickets.) This is an easy way to accumulate miles just by using the card as you already would.
The only downside to these cards is they typically come with an annual fee (of around 99 dollars) and higher interest rates. As long as you’re smart with your card, and pay most or all of your balance every month, you will end up saving money in the long run, by using the miles you earn for rewards.
If you’re flying internationally, get ready for a bunch of long lines and security checks. This is where Global Entry comes in handy. Signing up for it is highly recommended by our business travelers because it allows you to skip potentially hour (plus) long lines once upon returning to the US. Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Members enter the United States through automatic kiosks at select airports. To be approved for Global Entry, travelers must pass a thorough background check and an in-person interview before enrollment. This can take up some of your time, but it is worth it in the end, especially if you fly multiple times a year.
Even if you’re flying domestically, signing up for TSA Precheck can be incredibly helpful on saving you time. The program allows approved travelers to receive expedited screening at the airport. According to the TSA Precheck website, “If you’re eligible and approved for the TSA Pre✓® program you will be given a known traveler number “KTN” to use when making flight reservations. Participating airlines will print an indicator on your boarding pass. When you arrive at the airport, look for signs for the lanes.”