Travel for work? Follow this flight advice

Travel for work? Follow this flight advice


By Donny Shimamoto, CPA/CITP, CGMA

If you travel often for work, you know how a business trip can be thrown off schedule by a missed flight, traffic jam, or other transit woes. As a frequent traveller from my home state of Hawaii to the US mainland, I’ve had to ensure that I could remain productive despite unexpected travel issues. Here are my answers to common travel conundrums:

Should I arrive at the airport early?

I previously planned to arrive just in time to get through security and walk on the plane. This sometimes would lead to stress if there was unexpected traffic, a long line at check-in or security checkpoints, or any other delay in getting to the gate. If I have to commute during rush hour, this adds uncertainty. So now I pay much closer attention to the flight’s departure time and figure out how that time affects what I’d be dealing with at the airport. This decision can also be affected by whether the airport has an airline club (see next question).

Should I purchase an airline’s club membership?

The answer depends on how much you travel, how often you have layovers, and whether the airports you travel through have a club. I travel almost weekly, and for me the answer has been a definite yes. I have at least one layover at least half the time that I travel, so assuming the layover is long enough, the club gives me somewhere to access a clean bathroom, work with the help of free internet access, recharge my devices, and get a hearty snack (which is usually free).

Sometimes, flights with longer layovers are also cheaper, so if the layover airport has an airline club, I have the option of getting those cost savings while knowing that I’ll have somewhere that I can be productive during the layover. If my departing airport has a club, I often travel to the airport when it’s the least disruptive to my schedule and the least traffic-plagued time. Then I go to the club and work until my flight. Some of these strategies work with club day passes, and if you’re getting work done, your employer may reimburse you for the cost of the pass.

Should I take the overnight flight?

If you can’t sleep on planes, the answer is definitely no. As a left-side sleeper, I check available seats to ensure that I can get window seat on the left side. Otherwise, I know that I won’t be able to get decent rest, so I may avoid the flight. For longer flights, I sometimes choose to make the flight a “workday” and work on the flight or at the club during a layover. Then I take a flex day or work a short day at my destination so that I can enjoy more of that city.

How do I keep track of flight changes?

Delays, cancellations, or gate changes are inevitable. Several apps exist to aid frequent travellers; I use an app called TripIt Pro, which costs me $49 per year, to organise my itineraries and get real-time flight alerts. When a flight time or gate is changed, TripIt sends me a text message. If the delay could lead to a missed connection, the app provides a list of alternate flights from all airlines. After landing, TripIt texts me the arriving gate, gate for my connection, and the amount of time I have to get from one to the other. It also stores hotel and rental car confirmations, so I’m able to go to one app for my entire trip instead of flipping between multiple apps.

There are other apps, some free, that provide similar information. Many major airline apps also will alert you to flight changes via text message.

Donny Shimamoto is the founder and managing director of CPA firm IntrapriseTechKnowlogies LLC.