Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Weary Traveller- Travel Tips for the Corporate Road Zombie


Clight has commented that I do not pull my weight on the Blog. Perhaps he is right. Then again, he is a no-job, "housedad" whiny slacker. I, on the other hand, am blessed with a job which makes me travel over 50% of the time. Hence, I do not post as much as my homebound co-author.

So, Clight suggests- "Hey Baa, how about a travel column!" Bastid. Fair enough. I will attempt to randomly share my thoughts and tips on how to survive constant business travel. Not that I am currently surviving.....

Today's episode-

Frequent Flyer Miles and You....

If your travelling for business, your not the one paying for the plane tickets. My first tip is to try, as hard as you can, to fly as much as possible on one carrier. I fly Delta if I can help it. Yes, they are going out of business quickly. Yes, their staff is amazingly unhelpful. But they have a great flight schedule and are usually within a couple bucks of their main competitors like United and American. So, as long as your booking your own travel for business, use the same carrier.

Why, you ask? Simple- Besides the obvious free tickets, you can generally get into the carrier's basic Elite program with 25,000 miles in a calendar year. This makes you eligible (on Delta and American anyway) for free upgrades, earlier boarding, first dibs on the exit rows in coach, "special" ticket counters at the airport, and usually extra % of miles when you travel.

The most important part of the list above is the "free upgrade to first/business" which is very important if your 6ft + like I am. Now, getting one of the free upgrades can be tricky, as other travellers can also get them and there is a good chance they are a higher level elite than you, or they managed to effectively bitch and get a free upgrade to shut them up (see my next column, how to talk the airline customer service people into anything.) If your travelling between large cities and during peak travel times, forget about getting that free upgrade... But, you, the Weary Traveller know the tricks to getting those free upgrades!!

Tips-

If you can, travel in the middle of the day or later in the evening. Every business traveller tries for the 6-8am flight out and the 4-7pm flight back. Stay away from those flights if you can help it. Your more likely to get that free upgrade and failing that, the exit row.

ALWAYS put in for your upgrade upon booking the flight. This puts you ahead of the people who request an upgrade when they get to the airport EVEN if they are a higher elite level.

Know your favored carrier's hubs and typical schedules to/from those hubs to your destination and return airports. Case in point- I fly Delta whenever I can. I am a Delta "Gold Medallion (50k a year) member." Delta's primary hubs in the Eastern US are Atlanta and Cincinatti. Atlanta is the primary hub. My home airport is Tampa. However, if I book through Cincinatti, I am 60% more likely to get an upgrade because 90% of people going to and from Tampa go through Atlanta, yet there are at least 4 flights a day through Cincinatti (and yes, I misspelled it, three times!!!) This has never added more then 30 minutes to my flight time, and the CIN airport is a lot nicer than Atlanta-Hartsfield International Nightmare.

Book full fare coach when it makes sense. You get more elite miles and your more likely to get upgraded.

When in doubt, whine to the gate attendant. A little whining will go a long way. They do have the power to bump someone up the standby upgrade list.

Did I mention people smell better and are generally more attractive in 1st class??

Stay tuned for my next installment of- The Weary Traveller

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