If you must travel for business around Christmas and New Year’s, use this survival guide to get from A to B without hassles.
If you’re traveling for business around Christmas and New Year’s, something went gloriously right—or something went horribly wrong. Maybe you’re hitting the terminals to close a deal. Or, maybe you are rushing to fix a customer’s tech meltdown. Whatever the case may be, travel can’t wait until January.
You’ll be one of the few business people traveling during this hectic, unpredictable time. The following survival guide will help you get from A to B with minimal hassles.
Fly Direct and Avoid Cities With Inclement Weather
Bad weather accounted for 32.9 percent of flight delays in 2016 according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS). Avoid connecting through San Francisco, Newark, Chicago O’Hare, New York, and Denver. Their on-time percentages and weather delay rates, as tabulated by The Weather Channel, make them your worst bets for a smooth travel day.
Do Not Try to Park at the Airport
During the holidays, take Uber, Lyft, or a taxi. You do not want to find a “Closed” sign in front of the parking lot when you arrive. Even at my home airport, Chicago O’Hare, the economy lots fill up at busy times.
Pay for the Lounge
Most people assume they need a business class ticket, metal credit card, or elite flyer status to get in lounges. Wrong. You can pay $50 to get in. The Wi-Fi, snacks, and space to be productive will be well worth the company’s money.
Don’t Check Bags
In 2016, BTS reports of mishandled baggage were elevated in December – 3.58 per 1,000 passengers versus a 2.70 average for the rest of the year. Put differently, the odds of losing a bag increases 33 percent around the holidays. Just don’t check a bag. If you usually lug physical products along, ship them ahead of time, especially if you have a connecting flight. If you have an extended trip and clothing is the issue, pay the hotel laundry fees.
Be Less ‘Bumpable’
The BTS says that the bump rate was only 0.54 passengers per 10,000 travelers in Q4 2016. Still, if you book last-minute, you’re less likely to get a seat assignment and more likely to get bumped. There are a few countermeasures you can take. First, book an airline with which you have elite status. They prioritize known travelers on overbooked flights. Second, if you can’t fly with your preferred airline, sign up for a frequent flyer number with whichever airline you do choose. You’ll get priority over people who don’t have a number. Third, don’t buy ‘basic economy’ fares – they have the lowest priority.
Get TSA Pre✓® and Global Entry
TSA Pre✓ gives you access to expedited security screening. Basically, you get shorter lines and don’t need to remove shoes, belts, light jackets, laptops, or liquids from your carry-on. Here’s the tip: Apply to Global Entry for $100 rather than spending $85 for five years of TSA Pre✓. Global Entry gets you expedited clearance at U.S. Customs and Border Protection when you return from abroad, and it comes with TSA Pre✓. If you’re not in these programs yet, apply and request reimbursement from your employer. You’ll thank me next year.
Horrendous Weather? Try Video Instead of Travel
If blizzards are rolling in and you haven’t booked a flight yet, strongly consider not flying. At less busy times, it’s easy to get reassigned in the event of a flight cancellation. Around the holidays, you’re contending with thousands of really frustrated vacationers determined not to lose a day of beach or ski time. If Skype is a deal-breaker in that scenario, are you sure the client is worth it?
The Best and Worst
- Book a direct flight
- Don’t drive to the airport
- Have TSA Pre✓
- Bring carry-on baggage only
- Spend the holiday with loved ones.
You use the other tips to avoid a journey reminiscent of the movie Planes, Trains and Automobile. Good luck and travel safely.