In the past four years, I have flown an average of 100,000 miles a year. In viewing about two dozen road races, track events or marathons a year, six trade shows, and dozens of meetings with various ad agencies and advertisers, I am what one might call a frequent traveler. In this column, I will share with you some of the tactics that I use to survive on the road....
1. First things first. I either travel very early in the day or the last flights of the day. Normally, problems happen after that. If the plane is in from the night before, then you will get out. If the flight is at the end of the day, normally all of the messes happen in middle of day and they are caught up by nightime.
2. Travel on one to three airlines top, and sign up for all flight announcements. I am signed up on United.com for phone updates, email updates and voice updates. When a flight gets screwed up, I know and can either a) get a new flight b) spend more time getting mad at said airlines.
3. Always, always keep your temper. When the flights get messed up, and most of the flyers are loosing it, a simple courtesy can calm the situation. During the summers, you can have some pretty ugly confrontations.
4. Avoid Chicago. Look, there are many things I love about Chicago, but OHare has gotten out of hand and they have 150-200 flights too many. Most evenings, from 6.30 pm on to about 8, they slow flights down. My average sit on a flight in Chicago is about forty-five minutes on the strip!
5. Join a Business Club! I am member of the Red Carpet club, with United, and through its alliance, get into business clubs all over. It costs about $450 a year, but gets you a place to relax, write letters, grab a beverage during the unfortunate delays
that will come this fall and winter.
6. Best domestic airline-Midwest. Based out of Milwaukee, Midwest flys through Kansas City and Milwaukee to everywhere. The flights might be full, but the service is great, and there is room on the flights for everyone! Good pricing, even at last minute! Kansas City has free wi-fi!
6. Best foreign-Lufthansa! I take the flight from Chicago to Frankfurt, get a shower in the Business Club and then head anywhere else in the world. Just getting a shower allows you to feel human!
7. Best domestic airport-Portland, Oregon. From the free wi-fi, to the barber shop and shoe shine shop ( run by a gentleman who knows the Motown Music scene very well), to the sushi bar ( the warm towel before the Miso soup justs sets the right mood). Honorable Mentions-Kansas City, La Guardia, San Jose, CA, Madison, WI.
8. Most frustrating airport-Chicago/OHare--could be a great airport, however, the delays caused by United airlines lack of concern for the consumer, and their management teams' recent amnesia or forgetfullness about who they actually work for-the flying public, has greviously harmed a beautiful and wonderful airport.
9. On plane, and before flight. I always get in an hour walk. Then a bottle of water. The walking is good for the old circulation. I also get up every two hours on plane, have my Ipod full of battery power, and good music ( my faves-Antony and the Johnsons, Rod Stewart, Disturbed, Patti Smith), and a couple good newspapers.
10. Seats-perfect seats are exit rows, where you get a bit more room for a little responsibility. I save the upgrades for either long flights or when, after a couple of weeks of bad connections, I need a break.
Not very scientific, but it helps. I love new places, and I do love travelling. I wish I could do more--that will probably be my mid life crisis, which I am planning already!