Lessons for Newbie Business Travelers…From the Woman Who’s Flown 1M+ Miles on Business

It was my senior year of college and I was desperately actively searching for a job for when I graduated. I was extremely interested in “consulting”, even though I had no idea what the heck it was at the time. I was told you get to travel and since I was a business major, and well, I liked to travel, it definitely sounded appealing. As luck would have it, I landed a job with a large consulting firm in their human capital consulting group. While others ran the opposite direction when they were told their client involved a plane ride, I jumped at the opportunity. I was a 22 year old “business traveler” – a title I kept for 8 years until my first child was born.

I traveled almost 52 weeks a year learning everything there was about being a business traveler. During these 400+ weeks of traveling every Monday through Thursday to my client site, there are a few key tips I picked up to be a good business traveler.

Loyalty goes a long way

My #1 suggestion is to stick to the same airline and hotel chain. This can eventually allow you to travel in comfort, which is key if you are on the road a lot! Based on my client project locations, American Airlines was my go-to airline. I made sure that I only flew American so I could earn status as quickly as possible. Every year I was able to earn Executive Platinum status, which meant I was entitled to an unlimited number of upgrades (assuming availability)! Flying in business class was way better then in the back of the plane and it did not cost me a dime. I had a bigger seat, a meal on my flight, and even a pillow and blanket! Once I was able to fly in front, flying was much more desirable!

Not only will you receive a more desirable flying experience if you earn status, you’ll also move up in line if you are looking to go standby. There are many times when a meeting ended early and I was able to grab an earlier flight. Moving to the top of the standby list just due to my status came in quite handy. These days having status can also save you a ton of money when trying to change your flight or going standby.

Avoid connecting airports

If you have the option, avoid connecting in major airports! Weather issues happen all the time and can cause a huge headache. Even a weather issue in one part of the country can affect a flight on the polar opposite side of the country causing delays and cancellations. Booking a non-stop flight will decrease your chances of a cancelled or missed flight.

If you cannot avoid a connecting flight, try to avoid layover airports that are more susceptible to poor weather conditions. For example, avoid Chicago in the winter due to snowstorms and Dallas in the summer due to lighting storms. For a long time I was flying to Bentonville, Arkansas and would avoid Chicago like the plague during the winter months. Although I was more than happy to fly through Chicago in the summer! Now, if you do have to book a connecting flight and have some flexibility, Upside does a great job at showing you many alternative package options that might actually save your company more money as well as give you a greater gift card incentive!

Do not wait in the security line

Security lines can be brutal, especially if you travel quite often. The best thing I ever did was to get approved for Global Entry. Not only does Global Entry allow you to zip through customs on your return trip from a foreign country, it also gives you access to TSA Pre✓. Every single business traveler should have this! This allows you to go through the security line without having to remove your belt, shoes, jacket, and laptop. There are usually dedicated lines just for those who have been approved for TSA Pre✓ that can be much shorter and faster than the general lines.

Applying for TSA Pre✓ is a simple process, but does require some advance planning. It requires you to fill out some basic information online, make an appointment at an application center, and be fingerprinted. It will then take a few weeks to receive your Known Traveler Number (KTN). While there is a application fee, it is valid for five years. Also, if you have Global Entry, which only costs $15 more, then you are automatically enrolled in TSA Pre✓. Some credit cards will also reimburse the fee for applying for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓.

Enjoy the comfort of an airline lounge

Airline lounges allow you to get away from the hustle and bustle of a chaotic airport. Many lounges have complimentary drinks, snacks, WiFi, computers, etc. My personal favorite airport lounges are the American Express Centurion Lounges (there are 9 total – 8 in the US and 1 International location). There are many credit cards that give you complimentary access to some airport. Or, you can always purchase a yearly membership. If you do not have a credit card that gives you access or you do not have a yearly membership, check out LoungeBuddy.com or even eBay for a daily pass.

While the tips above will absolutely transform your next flying experience, it is important to also have a seamless booking experience. This is where Upside comes in handy! They have an easy to use booking platform along with amazing customer service. You cannot go wrong with checking out Upside to book your next business trip. And, if you are a new customer, there are some awesome incentives to try them out. Overall, a win-win situation!

Start enjoying your business travel with these simple tips! What advice will you adopt for your next business trip?

As part of the BoardingArea network of expert travel bloggers, Jennifer Yellin shares her extensive points and deals knowledge on her Deals We Like blog. To follow more of her travel tips, connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Use her referral code DEALSWELIKE at checkout or click here to earn at least $100 in gift cards when you book your first Upside business trip of $600+ pre-tax.

Offer valid for first time customers with pre-tax purchase minimum of $600+, see upside.com for terms and conditions.