Business trips can be thrown off schedule by a variety of transit woes. As a frequent traveller myself, I've had to ensure that I could remain productive despite unexpected travel issues. Here are my answers to common travel conundrums:
Should I purchase an airline's club membership?
The answer depends on how much you travel, how often you have connections, 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 connecting flight at least half the time I travel, so assuming the wait is long enough, the club gives me access to a clean bathroom, free internet, a hearty snack (which is usually free), and power to recharge my devices.
Sometimes, flights with longer transfer times are cheaper, so if the connecting airport has a club, I have the option of getting those cost savings while knowing that I'll have somewhere to be productive during the wait. If my departing airport has a club, I often travel to the airport when it's the least disruptive to my schedule and at 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 a 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 connection. Then I take a flex day or work a short day at my destination so I can enjoy more of that city.
How do I keep track of flight changes?
Delays, cancellations, or gate changes are inevitable. Several apps are available 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, the 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 among multiple apps.
Other apps, some of which are free, provide similar information. Many major airlines also will alert you to flight changes via text message.
Donny Shimamoto is the founder and managing director of CPA firm IntrapriseTechKnowlogies LLC. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Neil Amato, an FM magazine senior editor, at Neil.Amato@aicpa-cima.com.