Wondering what to do before you board a plane? Ensure a smooth trip by completing this pre-flight checklist.
Business travel can feel like a never-ending series of tasks and to-do items. But what actions are most important and beneficial before you depart? If you’re wondering what to do before you board a plane, here’s a look at 25 essentials:
1. Sign Up for PreCheck: The Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck program is a must for regular business travelers. For an investment of $85, you get 5 years of breezing through security without taking off your shoes, removing your laptop or unpacking your liquids. It’s well worth it.
2. Find the Right Suitcase: Having the right luggage can save you time and money. You now have to pay to check a bag through most airlines, and waiting around in baggage claim burns precious minutes when you arrive at your destination. Find a suitcase that easily meets carry-on limits and that can fit the essentials you need on most business trips.
3. Invest in a Travel Pillow: Once upon a time, travel pillows were bulky and difficult to travel with. That’s no longer the case. Find a low-profile travel pillow (like the Trtl Travel Pillow) and make sure you get the rest you want and need while in-flight.
4. Check Credit Card Opportunities: Are you loyal to a specific airline? If so, check out credit card options before your next flight. In some cases, you may be able to earn a significant amount of miles as a signup bonus. Signup bonuses often include enough miles to book your next flight free.
5. Enter a Frequent Flier Number: Never let a flight go to waste. Even if you’re flying with a new airline, always create and enter a frequent flier number. If you travel for work often enough, you may be surprised at how many miles you accrue across different carriers.
6. Get the Airline’s App: The best way to stay informed before your flight is by downloading your airline’s app. You’ll be the first to know about gate changes, weather delays, upgrades and more.
7. Check the Weather: Know the weather at both your departure and arrival points. Weather at your departure airport could affect your flight’s schedule, and weather at your arrival destination should influence the clothing you choose to pack.
8. Rest Up: Plan for appropriate rest before your flight departs. Get to bed early for pre-dawn departures, and use an app like Timeshifter to start prepping your body for international travel. Without appropriate rest, you won’t be able to do your best work after arriving at your destination.
9. Prep Your Entertainment: Most flights now offer entertainment options, whether they be through a touchscreen built into the seat in front of you or through an online portal where you can access movies, television shows and music. But you don’t have to rely on the airlines. Netflix and other streaming platforms allow you to download content so that you can binge even when you don’t have Internet access. Downloading your preferred movies and shows before a flight means you can watch what you want — when you want to watch it.
10. Secure a Seat: Before you board, make sure you have a desirable seat. As your flight gets closer, you often have the chance to move into premium seating that costs extra if you were to switch in advance. You can also use SeatGuru to assess your proximity to bathrooms, galleys and other airplane features.
11. Organize Your Liquids: If you’re carrying on, all liquids must fit into containers no larger than 3.4 ounces. These liquid containers must be placed in a clear plastic bag no larger than a quart. If you’re checking a bag, you have a little more flexibility. But, either way, organize your liquids appropriately before you head to the airport.
12. Pack Some Sanitizer: Airports and airplanes are great places to pick up a cold or another illness. Pack some hand sanitizer so that you can regularly cleanse your hands to keep them as germ-free as possible.
13. Gather Your Gadgets: Make sure you have all the gadgets you need for a successful trip. You’ll want to take your phone, of course, but make other important decisions, like: Do I need both a laptop and tablet? Consider what other gadgets and devices you’ll need to make your trip a great one.
14. Create a Charging Strategy: Once you have your gadgets, create a charging strategy. Know if and where you can charge inside the airport or on your plane. Take all the needed chargers. And consider investing in an external battery that lets you charge on the go.
15. Set Your Away Messages: You don’t have time to answer email and Slack messages while traveling at work. Let your colleagues, clients and others know that you will be slow to respond by leaving appropriate away messages.
16. Get Comfy: The best business trip attire blends comfort and style. You don’t want to be the passenger wearing pajama pants and a T-shirt (airplane etiquette matters, of course), but you also don’t want to be overdressed and uncomfortable for the duration of your trip. Try wearing jeans with a comfortable top and some sort of sweater (as it gets cold on most flights). Also, always wear comfortable shoes, as you’ll be doing lots of walking.
17. Check Your Flight Status: Curious if the plane you’re flying on has arrived at the airport? Want to know about average on-time performance for your airline and route? Need quick access to weather conditions? Apps like FlightStats can give you all the information you need. You can even set up alerts to be received via text or email.
18. Assess the Parking Situation: You can waste a lot of time and money wandering around the airport looking for a place to park. Make a plan before you leave home. Many airports now have third-party parking providers that are much faster and more affordable than on-site parking.
19. Leave Plenty of Time: Don’t leave anything to chance. Make sure you have plenty of time to get to the airport (accounting for traffic) and plenty of time to park and get through security. Tools like MiFlight can help you assess the length of security lines before you get to the airport.
20. Consider a VPN: When you’re traveling, you may use all sorts of public Wi-Fi networks. These public networks are notoriously unsafe, leaving you vulnerable to hackers. By using a virtual private network (VPN), you make using public Wi-Fi networks much safer than they would be otherwise.
21. Find a Comfy Waiting Area: Waiting at the gate? There are far better and more comfortable places to spend your time before boarding. In fact, you may find that one of your credit cards gives you access to an airline lounge, or that it’s relatively easy to score day pass. Check LoungeBuddy to find lounge options at your airport.
22. Set a Boarding Alarm: If you’re lounging away from the gate in advance of your trip, make sure you don’t miss departure time by setting an alarm. An alarm set at an appropriate time can help you avoid reading, napping or snacking through your boarding time.
23. Pack a Snack: Airport food is incredibly unhealthy and expensive in most cases. Think ahead by packing some healthy, filling snacks like trail mix. These snacks are inexpensive when you buy ahead of time, and they will also help you avoid fatty airport fare.
24. Bring a Water Bottle: You can’t take water through security, but you can take a water bottle. Once inside the airports’ secure area, you can fill your water bottle for the rest of your trip. Air travel is known to dehydrate, so use your water bottle to stay hydrated for the duration of your journey.
25. Moisturize: Airplanes dehydrate your body, as mentioned above, and they also dry out your skin. This is especially true when you fly on newer models of airliners. Pack some moisturizers so that you can take care of dry skin during your travels.
Now that you know what to do before you board a plane, make sure you’re getting support from the very best travel management company. At JTB Business Travel, we help companies large and small save money on business travel while ensuring that team members enjoy the best possible travel experiences. Behind every service we provide and every recommendation we make is a common sense approach to business travel.