Improve Your Domestic Business Travel Experience

When you spend your life plying the skyways and byways of the domestic travel network, every little convenience can help.

There is hardly the allure of landing in Paris, Milan, or Sydney yet the work demand remains just as strong. Never fear, however, there are some great perks that you may be passing up that can make your travel feel more exotic than it might actually be. We outline some top tips for how to improve your business travel experience and earn some bonus gift cards along the way.

TSA PreCheck is a lifesaver.

It is true that lines are getting longer with TSA PreCheck, but it still beats the wrap-around coils that busy airports have. There’s an $85 fee, but it allows frequent travelers to keep shoes and light jackets on without having to remove liquids or laptops from your bag when going through security.

For five years of TSA PreCheck, it is worth the few minutes that the application takes even though it involves an in-person interview. To get more people to participate, TSA is opening appointment centers everywhere including in places like H&R Block, airports, and convention centers. If you don’t want to pay for it, check your credit card benefits because many, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and American Express Platinum cards, come with fee waivers for the service. And if you already have it yourself? You can apply the fee waiver to a friend or colleague.

PreCheck was supposed to save me, but it didn’t.

Even if you have TSA PreCheck, there are many reasons why it may not appear on your boarding pass. For starters, not every airline participates (most domestic airlines do), but more carriers are joining the list. It is also not guaranteed for each flight, but it works 99.9% of the time. Sometimes the information does not transmit properly (if booking through travel agents or other websites), so ask an agent via phone or at the airport to have your Known Traveler Number (KTN) entered in the reservation. Often, a few keystrokes will solve the problem. You can save your KTN to your frequent flyer profile.

Improve your seat for free.

Airlines have added a new basic economy fare that keeps comfort at arm’s length for many travelers (no seat assignments or seat changes). For traditional fares like those sold on Upside, ask the gate agent if there are any other seats with a free seat next to them when it’s time to board. By then, all standbys have probably been cleared, and agents know who will make the flight (some people miss their connections). This is when many seats free up, and you can more easily score a better seat without having to pay a surcharge.

I want to stay connected online or visit an airline lounge, but don’t want to pay a lot.

Airlines often sell wireless Internet or lounge passes at a cheaper rate in advance. And if you have a long travel day, it might be cheaper to purchase a day pass for Internet or lounge access. If it’s with Gogo, the “day pass” typically lasts for 24 hours, which means that it works for 24 hours from its first use on the same airline. Remember that if you have the American Express Business Platinum card, you can receive 10 free Gogo inflight vouchers annually.

You may already have lounge access and not know it.

Buying an annual airline lounge membership can be costly. That’s not worth it especially when so many airline credit cards offer it for free. Sure, annual card fees might be extravagant, but check your credit card especially if you have the Citi Prestige, American Express Platinum, and Chase Sapphire Reserve cards that come with Priority Pass membership.

The cards needed for lounge access do not always come automatically; with American Express Platinum, you have to call Amex for the card. Other cards like the American Express Platinum come with access to certain lounges when flying that airline or even swankier Centurion lounges in airports like Dallas/Ft. Worth, Las Vegas, Miami, and New York LaGuardia. If you have earned mid-tier elite status with a major alliance and are traveling internationally, you might already get lounge access even if flying in economy. American Airlines Platinum, United Premier Gold, and Delta Gold Medallion members and higher can access lounges when flying overseas.

I have lounge access, but it’s in a different terminal.

Many airports allow you to enter another terminal even if your flight is leaving from a different one. And even if they don’t, if you scan a mobile boarding pass, they rarely notice. Los Angeles, for example, has several terminals that are connected past security, but for those that are not, travelers are permitted entry with a same-day boarding pass. This can be a helpful tip if you have a long connection time in an airport. Just leave enough time to re-clear security at your new terminal, but that’s where TSA PreCheck can help!

Traveling for work can be stressful, and when I’m in an airport, I’m trying to maximize my time and minimize my stress. Applying for TSA PreCheck was a valuable investment for me, and it’s already improved my airport experiences several times.

Has TSA PreCheck changed the way you travel for work?

Meet Ramsey Qubein, our Upside guest blogger!

Ramsey Qubein is a freelance travel journalist who has traveled to 166+ countries and lived in both Madrid and Paris. He flies over 400,000+ miles a year and is considered an expert in travel loyalty programs and business travel. His work has been featured in dozens of publications including Travel+Leisure and USA Today. He is also a regular columnist for AFAR.

Follow @DailyTravelTips on Twitter or connect with Ramsey on LinkedIn.

You can use his referral code RAMSEY at checkout (or click here) to score at least $100 in Amazon.com gift cards when you book your first Upside business trip (minimum $600 pre-tax purchase required).

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