How to fly smart

Here's how to get the most out of your business travel.

     Print Edition: May 30, 2010

The return of the growth momentum means that executives will be hitting the road again, and, perhaps, more frequently than they have done in the recent past, thanks to the recession and slashed travel budgets of companies. The jetsetting ways of executives might be the envy of most people but, in reality, it can be exhausting and even disruptive.

Two things are absolutely essential to get the most out of your business trips: Efficient time management and keeping stress to a minimum. And how you plan depends on the frequency of your travel, the class in which you travel—business or economy—and your hierarchy in the company.

An executive flying a couple of times in a month need not be as particular about a lot of things as, say, someone who has to travel ten times a month. An infrequent traveller can take a lot of the routine hassles of flying in his stride, but not a frequent traveller for whom any kind of uncertainty during the trip can cause stress and take a toll of his productivity.

If you are a frequent flier, make sure that you have access to the lounge: there you can prepare for the business meeting while waiting for a flight or even catch a snooze to recoup your energies. You may also want to ensure that a pick up and drop is in place. It will save time and also spare you the anxiety that cabbies give to most people in new places—before an important meeting you would not want to wonder whether the cabbie is taking the shortest route to your destination.

How you travel—business or economy— will mean planning differently. If you are travelling economy class, the reporting time is a good two hours on most flights. So, there is ample time after the check-in procedures to prepare for your meeting. Also, when booking a ticket, you could ask for an aisle seat near the emergency exit. This has enough legroom to allow you to stretch yourself and also work without having to peer into your laptop screen from six inches.

The reporting time is much shorter if you travel business class. This means there is hardly any time to prepare yourself during the pretakeoff period. But on the other hand, business class allows you greater privacy during the travel, which can be used to do some critical work. Also, if you are a higher-placed executive in you company, you will most certainly be travelling business class and hence need to plan accordingly.

Lastly, if you are a frequent traveller, a smart way to avoid any kind of disruption and the stress associated with it is to stick to the familiar: You will at least know what to expect from the airline, hotel or the pick-up-anddrop facility. In addition, sticking to the same airline can also earn you benefits of being an elite passenger.

FREQUENT FLIER DOs

  • Be aware that frequent-flier benefits are overstated.
  • Travel light to save time on collecting checked luggage.
  • Take security clearance hassles in your stride. It's unavoidable.
  • Carry a neck support when flying long distances.

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