I was 31 years old when I started traveling for a living. I had just taken a promotion to be a Regional Training Manager with Cricket Wireless, and I was supposed to be covering a fairly small territory of Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, and Georgia. I had a very young family—my son was barely two, and my daughter was not yet born—and although the travel would be tough on them, the increase in pay was too much to turn town.
Plus, I was finally escaping retail! I know that the prevailing theory on the internet is that the Baruths are silver spoon brats who’ve never worked a day in their lives, but, boy, nothing could be further from the truth. I worked in wireless retail stores for a decade, with Verizon, T-Mobile, and then Cricket. And none of those motherfuckers on Twitter who claim I’ve had it easy could have survived a month doing what I did, much less a decade.
I had a gun in my face twice. I had a guy show up with a gas can and a blowtorch, trying to burn the store down. I had multiple people pull down their pants and take shits in the middle of my stores. I discovered child pornography on phones and was told I couldn’t report it. I was the first manager on the scene when a customer was shot dead in a store. I worked 60-70 hours over at least six days a week for that entire time, and I don’t think I actually took a real vacation once—partially because I couldn’t afford to, and partially because I just couldn’t be gone that long.
So when I was given the chance to get out of the stores, I probably would have done just about anything else to do so. But I was getting to do something I really loved, and that was coaching and training salespeople. I had taken multiple stores to top ten rankings at T-Mobile, and then took my market at Cricket to the top spot in the country. Whenever people across the company asked how I did it, I replied with a simple answer:
“I coach my people.”
And it was true. I somehow had a nose for identifying talent, hiring, and coaching people, and I was convinced that I could teach others how to do it, too. And ever since 2010, that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing. I switched to the automotive industry in 2012, becoming a sales trainer at AutoTrader.com (now Cox Automotive) and then other automotive tech companies.
But anyway, back to the original subject of this post, which was effective business travel recommendations. I’m not talking about the type of business travel that automotive writers do—that shit is easy. Somebody else books your flight and your accommodations, and you just show up and ride buses from the hotel to the restaurant and the “track” (which is really a low-speed autocross course with an instructor sitting shotgun).
No, I’m talking about real business travel, the kind where you’re sitting in the bowels of O’Hare airport at 1:43 in the morning on a Thursday, thanks to the combination of inclement weather and a missing light bulb in the bathroom of the CRJ-200 that you and 49 other weary travelers are about to be shoved into against your will, only to find out that your pilots have timed out—but don’t worry, they’re rolling out carts of mattresses for you to sleep on until 6:00 am. That flight is completely full, so you’ll be on standby, and we’ll call your name out very quietly at the same time that three other announcements are being made, so make sure that you absolutely do NOT miss it or else you’ll be here until Tuesday. Oh yeah, here’s a $10 restaurant voucher for your trouble, but all of the restaurants in this terminal are closed.
Here’s Bark’s list for minimizing headaches when traveling, and maybe even enjoying yourself a bit.
- Pick one airline, one hotel chain, and one rental car company, and stick with them religiously. You are screwing yourself out of points (we’ll discuss that more later) and upgrades (that too) by simply going with whatever is cheapest or most convenient. Yes, you might avoid a connection or find a hotel that’s ten minutes closer, but you’ll kick yourself when you’re always flying economy and staying in the double bed room near the elevator.
- There is really only one decent airline in the United States, and that is Delta. However, you may find yourself living in Baltimore, Chicago, Charlotte, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Miami, Orlando, Phoenix, or another city that has a non-Delta hub in it, and you might be thinking that it’s better to fly on United/American/Southwest because of that. You would be wrong. Delta has newer equipment, better hubs, and better staff and customer service than all of the other airlines.
- There is only one decent rental car company in America, and that is National. Emerald Aisle is an absolute must. I always get at least 1-2 car classes higher than I’ve booked, and plus I get to pick what I drive. It’s a small comfort, but who wouldn’t rather drive a Camaro SS than a Nissan Altima?
- There is only one decent hotel chain in America, and that is Marriott. Hilton has taken a huge nosedive in the last few years—I used to be a Hilton Diamond loyalist, but no longer. Marriott’s acquisition of Starwood means that I have at least four or five decent options in every major city in America, and two or three in smaller cities. I will take a brand new TownePlace Suites over a Hampton Inn or Holiday Inn Express every single time. I really hate what IHG has done to Kimpton. I was Inner Circle with Kimpton for five years, but no longer.
- Direct flights are convenient, but you’re hurting your status by taking them. I can often fly directly to a city out of Cincinnati, since it used to be a Delta hub and still has direct flights to LAX, LAS, NYC, SFO, and most of Florida. But then I only get credit for two segments—one there, and one back. If I fly out of Lexington, I can connect through Atlanta or Detroit and get credit for four segments, which means I achieve status twice as fast. I have reached Diamond status with Delta multiple times on segments, not miles. Yes, that does mean I took 140+ flights in a year. This is a good trick, especially if most or all of your flights are domestic.
- Points are king. Do not do something if it doesn’t help your points. I have the American Express Delta Reserve Card and the American Express Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Black Card. Everything I buy goes on one of these cards, and especially if it is a travel purchase. You get three times the points on Delta flights if you use the Amex Delta Reserve. You get six times the points on hotel stays if you pay with the Amex Marriott. SIX TIMES. If you use these cards correctly, you will never, ever pay for a personal vacation again. I have done stupid vacations, like 10 days in Hawaii, or 10 days in Disney World, and haven’t paid for a single cent of the airfare or hotels.
- Formatting on WordPress sucks, but this is just more info on those cards. Yes, those two cards together cost $1000 a year. But the Delta card allows you a free companion certificate every year on any domestic travel, including first class. If you buy one first class ticket a year for yourself, you can bring your wife/girlfriend/domestic partner/carbon rod for free. That alone more than pays for the membership fee. You also get Delta Sky Club and Centurion Lounge access at airports, which is $500 a year and DEFINITELY worth it. You’ll be glad that you have free drinks, a comfortable chair, and reliable wi-fi when your flights are inevitably delayed. The Centurion Lounge at DFW even has free massages and manicures. They will put you at the very top of the upgrade list, meaning you’ll get more first class upgrades every year, which is worth its weight in gold. They have special offers that you can get statement credits for (right now, for example, I can get $200 off any $750 Hodinkee purchase). You also get status boosts for every $30,000 you spend in a calendar year—that sounds like a lot, but if you’re a business traveler, that’s probably 4-6 months of just business travel, not to mention your personal spend. It goes without saying that you need to pay off your balances in full every month, or the interest rates will eat away at your bonuses. Don’t worry if your company says you “have to use corporate credit cards for travel.” I get my hand smacked every month, but who cares? You will probably need at least a 690 credit score to qualify for these, or you might be able to get away with a lower score if you have higher verifiable income.
- They’ll also give you statement credit for Global Entry/TSA Pre. This is a must. I do not understand why anybody who flies more than once a decade doesn’t have TSA Pre. You absolutely need it. It will save you hours and hours and hours and needless aggravation. You can keep your shoes on, keep your jacket on, leave your laptop in your bag, and just walk through the metal detector and get on with your life. When I travel with people without it, I will inevitably be waiting anywhere from 15-60 minutes for them on the other side of security. It’s a non-negotiable.
- Sell your soul for status. There have been years where I was a few flights or hotel nights short of the next status tier, so I did what’s called a “mileage run.” That’s where you buy a flight specifically for the purpose of getting to the next status. One year, I was six segments short of Platinum on Delta, so I bought a six-segment flight to Philadelphia for $197. I flew from LEX-MSP-DTW-PHL on the way there, and PHL-ATL-DTW-LEX on the way back. I stayed one night at the Hotel Monaco in Philly, thanks to a free night I had earned through the now-defunct Kimpton Karma program (man, do I miss that program). That boosted me from Gold to Platinum, which basically earned me another 30 first class upgrades the following year and another 40,000 Skymiles. Worth it.
- Speaking of which, always carry two high-limit credit cards with you at all times. I have had situations where one of my credit cards was compromised when I was traveling, which led to it being blocked and replaced. This can be a real problem if you’re away from home and depending on that card to pay for your hotel stay and your meals. If you’re in a higher crime area, put one credit card in your hotel safe and keep one on your person. Make sure that both cards have enough available credit to pay for your hotel bill, your meals, and your airport parking—sounds like common sense, but a week of hotel in NYC can easily hit $2500. I always have my corporate AMEX, which has no limit, with me as well, just in case. I hate using it, because I don’t get any of the points, but it has saved me.
- Do the same thing with your identification. I carry my drivers license and my passport with me on all trips, and I keep them separate—my DL is normally in my wallet and my passport is in my laptop bag. I learned this trick after losing my DL in New York once, and going through the hell of trying to board a flight without identification—it involved a taxi trip to a Queens Police Department and a three-hour police report.
- Buy a really good laptop bag and carry-on suitcase. And then never check a bag. Ever. I have a Shinola Messenger Bag for my laptop and a Samsonite hard-sided carry-on that fits in the compartment of even a Canadair Regional Jet. Between these two, I have everything I need for up to a week. And if I need more than that, I do laundry—most higher end hotels will even do it for you. Checking a bag will cost you at least an hour of your life every time you travel, and that’s assuming everything goes to plan. More often than you’d think, it doesn’t.
- Don’t ever let anybody else book your travel. I don’t care that you have an assistant. Do not let him or her book your travel. You know what you like. You know how quickly you can navigate from E terminal to A terminal in ATL. You know what parts of town are terrible. Handle your own travel and your own reservations.
- Download all of the apps and use them. I live by the Marriott Bonvoy and Delta apps. They will notify you of changes before anybody else does. Having the Delta app will let you know of gate changes and delays sometimes as much as 5-10 minutes early—that’s critical if you have to switch terminals and you’ve got a 35 minute connection. The Marriott app will allow you to use Mobile Check In and go directly to your room upon arrival with a Mobile Key. That’s a lifesaver when you’re checking into the Marriott Biscayne Bay with 40 vacation travelers who don’t know what the fuck they’re doing.
- Also use Kayak, Yelp, and OpenTable. I have discovered absolute gems of restaurants thanks to Yelp. Kayak is invaluable for booking hotels—if they have a cheaper rate, Marriott and Hilton will both price match AND give you and extra 25 percent off. They don’t publicize this, for obvious reasons. I just got Conrad Las Vegas for $66 a night because it was $88 on Kayak. It was $172 on the Hilton website. They price matched, reluctantly. OpenTable is great for making reservations in other cities before you get there, which you’ll need more often than you’d think—it’s hard to get a table for 8 on a whim at a decent restaurant in most major cities.
- Make your connections based on the seasons. Connect through Detroit in the summer and Atlanta in the winter. Otherwise, you risk weather issues.
- Know your connecting hubs and your regular airports like the back of your hand. I know exactly how long it takes to get from any gate in ATL or DTW from any other gate. I know where all of the good restaurants are and how long it takes to get food from them. I know where the SkyClubs are. I know where the clean public restrooms are. I know where the vending machines are. I know how long it will take to get through security.
- Never book the last flight of the night. It will get canceled or delayed more often than not. Also, Red-eyes are cheap for a reason—don’t do it. It will always seem like a good idea to take a 12:30 AM flight from Seattle to Detroit. It is always a bad idea. Always. You won’t get any sleep, and you’ll ruin the next two days.
- Carry extras of everything. Make sure you have at least two phone chargers with you, two laptop power cords, extra USB dongles and connectors, batteries for your clicker—something will fail, and it will fail at the worst time. Don’t trust a million dollar sale to one USB cable. Have two.
- Have a routine and stick to it. I learned this from a Canadian colleague a couple of years ago, and it has saved me multiple times. Put your wallet, passport, phone, briefcase in the same place every time. Workout at the same time every morning. Eat dinner at the same time if you can. Keep it as normal as possible. You don’t want to be getting off the plane and realizing that you’ve left your phone, your wallet, or your tablet in the pocket of the seat in front of you—I’ve done all three, including a wallet with over $3,000 in cash in it on my way back from Las Vegas (and yes, some unbelievably good person did turn it in and did NOT take a single dollar from it).
Here’s a bonus one: pack your clothing based on flexibility. For a three day trip, I bring two suits, three button down shirts that work with both suits, three ties that work with all three shirts, one pair of jeans, two t-shirts, a reversible belt, one pair of brown shoes and one pair of black shoes, three workout outfits, one pair of workout shoes, and one pair of casual shoes. And yes, that does all fit in a carry on.
I hope I see you at a SkyClub soon.
Nice to see you back Bark with your very good advice, and I’m glad I am not in a position to need it. The only issue I can beg to differ on is your bonus advice. Why not make everything match with either brown or black shoes and eliminate a pair of shoes (or have a pair of casuals that can serve as emergency backups for the suites)? By the way, how is the knee doing?
There are some events where black shoes just feel more appropriate. I never wear brown shoes into a Lexus dealership. I couldn’t tell you why, I just don’t. Otherwise, I would agree with you, and if I do have to pull out one item, it’s the black shoes.
The knee is good! I’m on day 64 of P90X3 Lean, and so far, so good.
Sinatra would never wear brown after dark. Rules to live by!
Of course Sinatra would also be smoking and heavily drinking after dark, which can be very unhealthy rules to live by.
I believe it was Frank Sinatra who said sleep is overrated. I don’t disagree that smoking and drinking to excess is unhealthy, It didn’t seem to have affected Sinatra too badly. He had three children, four marriages and lived 82 years. A successful life by most any measure.
I will add that Frank Sinatra exuded confidence and style, something sadly lacking in most modern entertainers. I can’t imagine what he would think of modern air travelers or of the general state of attire one encounters on commercial aircraft. Perhaps Mark can give us a dissertation on on how to dress one’s self for air travel in the modern era?
Sinatra’s 15 Rules of Style (from Gentleman’s Gazette)
1. The hat was undeniably one of his hallmarks. It takes two hands to put on a hat the right way: Back brim curled up, front tugged down to a couple of inches above the right brow.
2. No brown, white, grey or blue after the sun goes down unless it’s midnight blue. After dark, men should wear black.
3. Wear conservative silk ties
4. Cuff links always. But leave the fancy jewelry to Sammy.
5. When dressing formally, a vest is better than a cummerbund.
6. Don’t wear a tuxedo on Sunday.
7. Having messy closets is like putting on clean clothes over dirty underwear.
8. The shower is a great place to steam out the wrinkles in your dinner jacket.
9. Orange is the happiest color.
10. Don’t hide your scars. They make you who you are.
11. When it comes to pockets, everything should have its own place.
12. Wear a pocket square that is perfectly folded.
13. Shine your shoes.
14. Trim. Buff. Clean. But always make it look easy & nonchalant.
15. Take your hand off the suit.
Travel attire is a thing of the past, sadly. And even worse, I hear Juicy Couture sweatsuits are coming back into style.
Speaking of clothes, do you have any recommendations on business causal clothes? Khakis, button down shirt and leather shoes business casual, not polo and jeans business casual. I know Jack likes allen edmonds shoes, and I’m going to go try some on once my first paycheck hits.
Also, when you say 2 credit cards, do you mean my personal card and my corporate card or should I get another personal card?
The timing on this article is perfect, I just started a new job where I’m going to be traveling about 75% of the time with a lot of international travel. Any other advice you have would be greatly appreciated.
Business casual clothing for me typically just means that I take off my tie. I work in the car biz, so it’s pretty much all or nothing. I loathe the current “business casual” environment. That being said, I recommend Hawes & Curtis or Hart Schaffner Marx business casual shirts. Nobody looks good in khaki pants, so I don’t have a great recommendation other than going and trying on a few different cuts and styles.
I, too, am an AE shoes fan, but for biz casual, you have to be careful. I recommend brown, open-laced, possibly even split-toe. Closed-lace, cap toe shoes are too formal.
I recommend two personal cards and a corporate card, with one of them being an airline card and one being a hotel card. Like I mentioned in the post, I carry the AMEX Delta Reserve and AMEX Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant, both of which have five-figure limits, along with my corporate AMEX, which has no limit. I also recommend carrying a Visa/Mastercard on the rare occasion that a vendor doesn’t accept AMEX—I have a Capital One Quicksilver Rewards MC for exactly that reason. Leave the debit card at home, especially for international travel. It’s always easier to dispute a transaction on a CC than on a DC.
“I loathe the current “business casual” environment.”
Even business casual has become too burdensome and restrictive in the workplace, especially for folks younger than me (I’m 35). My last company suspended their dress code when COVID hit for those of us “essential” suckers that couldn’t work from home, and it was still anything goes when I left this past September. Guys were wearing basketball shorts and flip flops year round – I wouldn’t be caught dead leaving the house like that.
Maybe I’m just weird, but I’d rather wear suits to work every day. I feel more comfortable and confident when I’m dressed well. Whatever happened to “clothes make the man?” Khakis are awful – I’ve never had a pair I was satisfied with – and is there a more soul-sucking article of clothing than a polo with your company logo on it?
And as far as travel attire goes: Walking through an airport really shows what a nation of bums we are. I’m sorry, but if you can afford to get on airplane, you should have enough self respect to not wear sweatpants in public.
Sweats, pjs, and yoga pants/workout clothes in public are crazy to me. Sweats are ok if you are a roofer and you are currently on a roof. Yoga pants/workout clothes are ok if you are currently working out. PJs are never ok.
Thanks for the heads up, I owe you a beer. Looks like I need shoes and a credit card.
I’m not sure I agree 100% with Mr. Truckface, but the only thing I’m gonna miss about interviewing for jobs is that I don’t have an excuse to wear the nice suit I have. I have a way better suit than I need because my uncle gave his old one to me after he got married and got fat.
I always thought the suit was ritualized as a means for middle-aged people to hide their growing guts and expanding butts during an era when obesity was still relatively rare except among the “fat cats”. Now in our era of “body positivity” movements the idea of covering up fat guts and big butts has become hate speech, as even the most obese and ugly are encouraged to show off all their “curves” with form-fitting and revealing clothing everywhere from church and business meetings/travel to eating junk food in front of the TV at home.
Stingray, I know you like to stick your copy pasta where ever it vaguely fits. Don’t you think however that the suit is fading because more and more middle age people can’t stomach the idea that people should look to them as someone with responsibility.
John – the suit originates as the civilian counterpart to the military uniform, so it certainly was originally meant to convey that the person wearing it had responsibility and enough success to afford buying and wearing something uncomfortable and incompatible with physical labor. Yet I don’t think that the declining popularity of the business suit has anything to do with some movement towards “hiding from responsibility” as you seem to allude, because other signals of success and responsibility are more popular and desired than ever such as “designer” clothes (including “big name” sweats, tights, and pajamas people now wear to work), “fancy” watches and jewelry, McMansions and upscale cars (RR had a record 2021), and of course the DIE and BLM movements that are determined to put a female, transgender, and/or person of color in every position of authority and responsibility.
The suit is fading because there are barely a handful of positions that really require you to wear one….it used to be the standard business uniform….but now, besides attorneys going to court, politicians, and a few of other remaining jobs that would require a suit, I can’t think of many more….even most new-age CEO’s have their own cultist dress down wear the same thing every day odd attire, see Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs.
I read once that all formal dress starts with aristocrats and ends with waiters, so maybe that’s where the suit is going!
Proper business dress was largely abandoned in the early Seventies in favor of “leisure suits”, but when Reagan was inaugurated in a morning coat the nation took the hint. Today’s polyester “athleisure” will eventually become so generic that wealthy people won’t be able to use it as class identification any more, so maybe we will see men’s clothing return. One can only hope.
Around the dot com bust twenty years ago, a lot of the guys that were casually chief yahoo instead of President very quickly started dressing like funeral directors after the stock tanked.
“The suit originates as the civilian counterpart to the military uniform…”
No it didn’t. Suits are “informal wear.” They were designed as leisure wear at a time when “formal wear,” i.e. frock coats, were considered proper business attire. It was only in the early 20th century that suits became widely accepted as business wear.
…”So it certainly was originally meant to convey that the person wearing it had responsibility and enough success to afford buying and wearing something uncomfortable and incompatible with physical labor.”
This ignores the fact that men of every class exclusively wore trousers, collared button down shirts, and “uncomfortable” shoes in public through at least the 1960s. Jackets and/or ties were the norm for most activities, from church, to family gatherings, to attending baseball games.
And it’s not just civilian men whose dress standards have badly slackened. “Service dress,” the military version of informal wear, has mostly disappeared so that commissioned officers stationed at the Pentagon can now LARP in camo and combat boots as they generate PowerPoint presentations. And my father had a more stringent dress code in public high school in 1970 than I did in Catholic high school 30 years later.
Trucky – according to this source and many others, the business suit and most other male fashion trends have military origins.
Thanks for assuming in your seemingly-boundless pedantry that I’m too stupid to have ever noticed how much men’s fashion borrows from the military.
Just because suits have a lineage which can be loosely traced back to coats worn by 18th century officers doesn’t make them the “the civilian counterpart of a military uniform.” By your logic, any mens’ clothing which has a military connection – in other words, pretty much all mens’ clothing – could be described as such. It’s a meaningless detail when everyone from nobility to longshoremen to Arthur Fonzarelli wears a military-derived jacket.
Trucky – so it is ok for you to rather strongly question my knowledge about the origins of many men’s fashion trends with zero sources, but not ok for me to provide a source backing up my viewpoint? Perhaps you are becoming our new Nate with ornery comments backed by zero evidence?
Such a fun read! I agree with pretty much everything. I would put Alaska Air up with Delta for those on the Left Coast.
What is it about O’Hare? I’ve had to resort to a rental car to extract myself from that Hellhole.
Cash is always needed. It helped me get our of Sea-Tac during a snow storm several years ago. Also, when stranded at an airport don’t assume you can’t get a room at the airport hotels. I’ve strolled past dozens of weary travelers lined up at the hotel desk to check in for my “reservation” that I made on my smart phone 15 minutes earlier. Yes! Those points and status count!
I think cash is still helpful, but in this COVID era, I find it’s less helpful than it used to be. Lots of people won’t take cash at all, for any reason now.
However, if you’re in Mexico, cash is king—and a mix of pesos and dollars is particularly helpful. Some people will bend over backwards for USD.
I second the Alaska Air recommendation for those in the Pacific timezone. Especially if SEA or PDX are your home airports.
Not to mention you might run into the lovely Amanda Oseguera…
I worked sales for a number of years from around 2004 to 2018 (with a little break in the middle). Most of my travel was local (driving distance) but there were points where I was taking a several flights a month. Currently I work in project management I still travel but much more sporadic (only 8 hotel nights last year I think maybe 50 the year before). I have always worked in very laid back industries so rare I traveled with a suit and tie. (showing up to a boat builder in a suit is often hurting more the helping with some exceptions).
I agree with most of what Bark says. I use Hilton still but agree it has slid back a bit, but I have found spots I like most places I go. Also my wife uses the points for her girls trip to NYC every year and they all meet at a Hilton so it makes sense to have the points. I’m a Diamond at Hilton, so hard to make the change. I use Delta, mostly because that’s what my boss used when I first started flying everywhere. Having tried most everyone I stick with Delta 90% of the time unless access or schedule forces me to something else. Delta just does seem a bit better.
Also agree on schedule, mine is often very tight when I travel so I do sometimes take last flights and redyes but If I can avoid it I do (also first flights in particular on Mondays can be awful). I use a corporate card most of the time but have points cards and mix them in and do most personal stuff on them. I first got a corporate card at a time when my personal finance couldn’t take the temporary hit of 4-5k a week in travel expenses, and I just feel more comfortable putting big stuff on it even thou I could now a days.
Also big agree on the extra cards, after almost getting stuck in the airport in Nashville back around 2012, I keep a card hidden in my laptop bag for just such issues.
I think my only disagreement is on checked bags. I hate lugging stuff thru the airport. If I’m going for a couple nights sure I have a hard sided carry on roller or a rather nice canvas overnight bag. but If I’m going for a week I just prefer to check it and go. Most of the time it only costs me about 15-20 minutes, but it does bite you once in a while. still worth it to not be dragging a bag thru ATL.
The only upside to bags being late is that Delta will gift you 2500 miles if they arrive at the carousel more than twenty minutes after you land. I have had to check bags on occasion when traveling to trade shows, etc., and I actually WANT my bags to be late in those scenarios!
Yeah trade shows are the most likley time for me to check a bag. I have had Delta give me points once years ago for bag that came a few hours late (they dropped it at my hotel that night) but most of the time it’s pretty quick.
Appreciate the tips… at the expense of looking a gift horse in the mouth – any chance you could give out for free, what you’re paid to do for a living??
Tongue in cheek – but any even general tips to talent recruitment and mentoring would be helpful.
I used to travel quite a bit for work (pre-COVID), and I suspect I will be doing so again soon. Your tips, I wish I knew 10 years ago, rather than learning through experience. (They are spot on.) I would add global heath care access for international travel. Nothing worse than having raging diarrhea in a 3rd world country and not knowing where to go.
Now as for mentoring and finding good talent… I’m still learning those lessons.
I still work in training and development in the automotive space. I tend not to give out my employer’s name, even though they have been super cool the couple of times the liberal auto bloggers of the world have tried to get me fired over my opinions. Turns out that my employer shares my opinions 🙂
This was all good advise Bark and I am also glad to have you back. What do you think is best when traveling for business by car. Assuming you have a nice car, which I know you do, do you think it is better to drive your personal car and be reimbursed for miles driven, or rent on the company dime and rely on your elite status to avoid Versas et al.
Pre-Biden, I would much rather have had the company make my car payment for me. Gas prices are so high right now, thought, that it’s starting to make more sense to drive a rental if possible. I was driving about 3000 miles a month in 2021, and it was almost like getting another 1/2 of a paycheck every month. I kinda miss that!
I was doing Chicago Columbus, OH every month or so, and it’s about an 800 mile round trip including some local driving. At $.55/mile that’s $440, and even at 20mpg and $4 gas you’re talking $160 of gas. I’ll take $280 to be on my schedule and not the airline’s every time.
There are a lot of moving parts to consider. Pre 2008, first owner cars residual value were a much lower percentage than now. It seems also tires and brake pads had shorter mileage lives.
Bark may be in a unique position to put a decent load of reimbursed miles on his G-70. He was able to get his fairly new car at a probably unrepeatable discount to MSRP. Even with a big load of miles, the car is unlikely to lose much residual value when he is done with it.
I bought the car specifically with the idea of it being a comfortable long distance cruiser. I also bought an extra 100K of bumper to bumper extended service plan. I’m fine with driving the wheels off of it.
It pays to take the mileage even with my 24 MPG Chrysler 300 and current gas prices. I do remember in 2006-7 when gas prices spiked and I was driving a pickup that it was not worth it. I drove my own car to Philly and Albany in the last month (Im in CT). In 2020 I had a project with issues down in VA and given COVID flight schedules I ended up driving back and forth more then a dozen times, it was a nice boost to the bank account even thou I did manage to bend a wheel on a pot hole in Rural VA and had to get a new wheel and a set of tires on the road.
Not always worth it thou. My previous car a Volvo XC70, started having issues around 125k miles and I didn’t want to deal with issues on the road so I racked up a lot of enterprise rentals the last year I owned it.
I really enjoyed this! brings back memories. I think you got more lifetime miles than me, I don’t travel much any more, life changes. I had about a 5 year period where I traveled tons all over. It was before marriage and kids so it was a bit easier to be gone for a week or 4! Segments were good for the domestic guys, two round trips to Narita from BOS and I had Premier status on United so they were my airline, this was long ago when they were good, and I could listen to Channel 9 ATC. Hertz for my cars, again I think they were great in the early 2000s. There were so many empty planes then! I regularly stretched out for a nap with an entire row to myself. The only thing I have left now is my lifetime Platinum Marriott status.
It kinda made me a travel snob, I already hated waiting in lines! I fly JetBlue occasionally now, I just pay the money for the extra legroom for and I can get on and off first. I’d sooner discuss which limb I can live without than to ever check a bag.
JetBlue is about the only American airline that I haven’t flown, along with Spirit (shudder). I’ve heard some good and bad.
Lifetime Platinum Marriott is nice to have, am I right? Makes a difference when you get upgraded to the corner suite on your Cancun vacation.
I like Jet Blue. It’s still decent but i it’s prime 10 years ago they were among the best. My local airport has numerous Jet Blue flights to FL, I used to do a lot of work down there and I had little kids so being able to take a direct flight out in the morning and back at night for a meeting was wonderful. I actually have a Jetblue points card because we are planning the Disney trip for the kids and I want a direct flight when I’m flying with 3 kids.
I don’t do nearly the business travel that you do, but we travel frequently for pleasure, and are all about that status life. We’re Globalist on Hyatt and staying 10 days on Maui and in Kona in a couple weeks for free off points.
All that said, I will 100% disagree with you on direct flights versus connections. I don’t care how cushy first class is, and how nice the lounges are (I’ve done both plenty), none of it is worth doubling my numbers of boardings, de-boardings, takeoffs and landings, and chances for the airline or the flight crew or whomever to shit the bed and mess my plans up. Not in a million years. I live outside Chicago where at least 6 months a year weather can be “temperamental” and the other 6 months we still have thunderstorms and general fuckery to deal with.
Give me direct or give me death.
Direct is best for personal luxury travel. But for business? Connect all day long.
It is interesting these days with all the talk about global warming and cutting emissions that airline frequent flyer programs actually encourage members to take unneeded extra trips and connections to build up points. I don’t blame members for taking advantage, but if the Biden administration starts looking at CO2 emissions from flying the airline executives are going to have some explaining to do.
You really gotta admire Brandons commitment to being environmentally aware, why just the other day he cleared his schedule and took a 19 car motorcade consisting of 11,000 Suburbans, a few equipped with mini-guns(to protect the most popular prez evah) to go get ice cream, because apparently the White House doesn’t have a freezer…. and a made in china mug with the Veeps face on it….
Such a friend of the environment…..
Kudos to you for making travel work with a family. I’ve turned down a couple gigs (both dream jobs in motorsports) because they required 60% travel and I know it would just wreck my family life. Part of the “problem” is that I started my family very young, so by the time I had my degree and started my career in earnest I already had three kids. Your life seems like it has taken a more modern tack to career and family planning.
I miss my personal cards for travel, my current company does require corporate cards and their policy has actual teeth, they’ll stop approving expense reports if you use personal cards. And airfare is automatically charged to corporate cards, you can’t even schedule air travel without a corporate card.
National Rental is a national treasure, the Emerald Aisle is fantastic. I’m not even a high roller, and it isn’t uncommon for me to get an upgrade simply because the cheap stuff is sold out. That’s how I came to appreciate the Impala LTZ…not sure why I’d bother with the Cadillac XTS other than to get AWD.
And I thought business travel died with COVID.
Apparently Zoom doesn’t just suck for education.
At a prior job, I traveled maybe 10-15 nights a year, some only a few hour drive from home where the mileage reimbursement went into the racing slush fund. Never enough to get serious status, but I got a taste of the points life, including at Kimptons.
Travel with the current role is mostly day trips, but it’s because they’ve got a jet that is better off filled or driving 2 or so hours.
It’s quite the juxtaposition going to zero status basic economy.
“I had a gun in my face twice. I had a guy show up with a gas can and a blowtorch, trying to burn the store down. I had multiple people pull down their pants and take shits in the middle of my stores.”
That San Francisco store is a bit of a handful from what I hear…..
Carmine – criminals don’t use weapons in SF because it is now illegal and/or racist to arrest them.
Yes on National! When I used to fly into Phoenix about 10 times a year, they ALWAYS had a car for me. I quickly dumped the company card and got in the Emerald club. Still use it, even though I don’t work travel anymore.
While I never traveled for work as much as you did, I can see a lot of great advice here. And it all makes sense. I’m just glad I don’t have to do it anymore.
(Note: Back when I used to fly a fair bit there used to be these things called ‘Mail Flights’. I actually learned about them from one of Leno’s writers on the tonight show. Back when airlines used to haul the mail, those flights could only handle a few passengers. Getting one of those meant you could get three seats in a row to sack out in and sleep on the airplane. Ah those were the days!).
For some reason I read the whole thing with the late great John Candy’s “Del Griffith-American Lighting and Fixtures-Show Curtain Ring Division” regional sales director voice in my head…..”You see on Braniff…I order the Kosher meal…you get a corned beef on rye and a pickle…..”
Delta is the best you can get now for domestic travel, and it isn’t even that great, their current first class would barely qualify as business back in the day…..I remember flying domestic first class when you still got a paper menu like you were at Maxims….with 3-4 course meal….I remember being slightly underage and flying first class cross country on an American MD-11 “Luxury Liner” and being offered champagne after boarding and replying “what?….are you fucking kidding me? hell yeah!!!”…..I cooled it after that for fear of overplaying my hand and not being served for the rest of the flight…..but boy did I drink…booze…red wine with the meal…a digestif…etc etc…….I remember my friend picking me up and commenting how plowed I was…..
For some reason whenever I rent, I always end up going to Enterprise…..I love their random “spin the wheel and find out” way of deciding what car you’ll get….don’t bother to select a car on when you make a reservation…..it doesn’t matter what you’ve reserved!!
Brrrrrr…….Sedan!……..Brrrr…..Compact!……Brrrrrr…..Box Truck!……Brrrrrr…..Luxury Car!…..Brrrrr….Cherry Picker…..
Last time I rented from Enterprise was a decade ago when my car was in the body shop after being rear ended. The other guy’s insurance was supposed to pay for a “standard size” car. Pretty sure their website at the defined that as “Ford Fusion or similar.” After typing on his computer for five minutes, the perky Enterprise clerk finally uttered a sentence I won’t forget:
“Is a Nissan Cube okay?”
No. Who the hell would ever think that’s okay?
After going round and round trying to find out why the Altimas and whatnot in their lot didn’t qualify as “or similar,” I finally agreed to pay an extra two bucks a day out of my own pocket for a W-body Impala.
In retrospect, I’m impressed I didn’t flip out like Steve Martin and start demanding “a f*cking Datsun, a f*cking Toyota, a f*cking Mustang, a f*cking Buick! Four f*cking wheels and a seat!”
I can top that…..I showed up after reserving a full size car for a weekend trip with another couple and the lady walks me out to…………..wait for it…..a regular cab Dodge Ram truck….
I raised a little hell and got a new Nissan Armada instead, for the price of the sedan….Enterprise Roulette Winnah!
When I got sideswiped in 2003, the other party’s MetLife captive rental company was Enterprise, and I qualified for a Focus or a similar vehicle, however the only thing they had at the time was an F-150 4×4. Kept it for a couple days (and even used it for truck chores to help my Dad pick up several bags of mulch), but asked if they had something where I couldn’t watch the gas gauge move when I stepped on the pedal! The resulting 2001 Focus was less than ideal! If anyone has owned a first-generation Focus, you know that the turn signals could wake the dead, and this particular vehicle had no cruise control, and I had a road trip a week later where I was regretting the switch because the throttle pedal was a little stiff over longer distances! First world problems! 🙄
Enterprise is weird. When I was flying alot I started with Hertz, switched to Avis after Hertz didn’t have my rental ready and the Avis counter person said come on over and handed me the keys and had me out in 5 minutes. I switched to National for Emerald aisle and was very happy. I then switched to mostly local travel and would use enterprise as they had an office about a mile and half from my house. I have had everything from a Ram 1500 to a Versa when booking a midsize. I built up a lot of points so I have stayed Enterprise and I only rent a few times a year, but if I were to go back to flying and renting every other week I would for sure go back to National.
All of them seem to do spin the wheel thing. I once was doing pleasure travel to a family event in southern California and had booked a small Nissan through Hertz (had their Gold membership back in the day). The girl behind the counter handed me keys to a minivan. I walked back and explained the situation of being a 30 something single guy driving a minivan in southern CA to a family reunion. She laughed and handed me keys to a Mustang.
Bark, welcome back, great advice, for 20 years I traveled all the time and you are correct Delta was a step above the other domestic flag carriers. Delta use to have a 6:15am flight out of Houston Intercontentantal that went to Dallas (it was a commuter flight for all those executives that lived in Houston and worked in Big D). Delta parked a L-1011 overnight for that flight at the gate and I use to take every time I could. Flying an L-1011 in Coach was like Business Class on any other equipment. What was interesting is that from DFW that aircraft was used for the non-stop to Hawaii, so when we deplaned at DFW all the men and women in business suites got off and 300 people in shorts and flip-flops got on. 🙂 However, I was never a upscale in hotels as you, I averaged 180 nights a year at Holiday Inn Express which got me enought points to purchase a trailer truck load of 2″x4″ and 2″x6″ to build my workshop (traded points for Lowe’s Gift cards) and a card each year from the President of Holiday Inn saying I was in the top 1 percent of loyality members. 🙂
Thank you for mentioning the L-1011; Whisperjets are always welcome as a discussion topic here.
The L-1011 Tri-Star was an amazing machine, I have a 1971 Eastern Airlines annual report from my grandfather that has a ton of L-1011 details in it and a cut-away poster too, 5 across crappers in the rear….now that’s living. The Tri-Star had lots of other really cool features, built in luggage conveyor and rear stairs that could deploy electrically from the starboard rear door. It was also one of the first planes with full auto-land and take-off systems.
Its amazing that at one point we had 3 airplane companies in this country making wide body jets…..
That was the problem – 3 companies making a wide-body plane when the market could only support 2, and unfortunately the best one lost.
Its also one of the earliest, if not the start of a big company going to the government for handout to get through a project, Lockheed execs had to go to Washington to get loan guarantees to finish the L-1011 after delays with the Rolls-Royce engines due to Rolls-Royces bankruptcy in 1970 nearly tanked the whole company.
Douglas and Lockheed were estimating that there was a market for a sub-747 wide body plane that could take market share from DC8 and 707 operators that weren’t going to commit to a 747 fleet. Delta and Eastern were L-1011 buyers and not really big 747 operators, though each airline did have a 747 in their fleet for a little while in the early 70’s. American was a DC buyer, also not really a big 747 operator.
Lockheed had 2 plane approach at one point, they planned for, but never built; a medium range twin engine L-1011 variant that would have basically been an A300 before there was an A300. That could have really been a game changer for Lockheed as it would have been launched around the time the A300 was coming out, 1972 and it would have beat 767 to market 9 years.
You should find an emulator and play Aerobiz Supersonic.
Back in the Y2K era I was averaging three weeks a month on the road, mostly flying from PDX to little rural places in the southeast. Very quickly learned to request the PDX to ATL routes because Delta always used an L-1011 for them. Became such a regular on flight 1776 (ATL to PDX Friday evening) that the stewardess knew my drink order without asking. Oddly, about half of First Class were regulars heading home for the weekend, all wearing our corporate polos to fly the flag.
Love that I got to experience the road warrior lifestyle for a few years, but would hate to do it today.
#16 is worth tattooing
Swap arrival and departure drop-offs/pick-ups based on traffic – for exmaple often times getting drooped off at arrivals in the morning makes sense for your sanity.
Live near Canada? Nexus lasts ten years and includes Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check.
For families, VRBO is often much cheaper than two hotel rooms.
“I’ll go through life either first class or third, but never in second.”
Kayak Explore to get an idea of cheap destinations and use Google Matrix ITA to refine your searching – learn to use their codes to remove Spirit and other garbage carriers.
It’s rumored that Uber business accounts filter their newer drivers and flaky drivers. Seems true.
Google FI international roaming is worth this price of admission.
Google Lens will translate weird street food menus – this opens up a lot of food options if you don’t know the language.
Pimsleur will get you to “charming tourist” levels of speech in just fifteen hours.
Is Pimsleur worth doing even if my work won’t pay for it? I used to work on a farm so I know enough Spanish to know when I’m getting laughed at at work, but I can’t do business in Spanish. I’ll probably be getting sent to peru for a few months for work this spring.
I got decently fluent in Spanish just by using DuoLingo for about 90 days (and by living in Miami).
You can subscribe to Pimsleur month-to-month as an app – costs about $15 per month and you can cancel from the app. You can get pretty deep into a language – I’ve spent four years studying French about six months of my life speaking French., For giggles, I started in on the French lessons and grudging had to admit that I was learning new things by the fifth hour.
Couldn’t agree more about Marriott, and even they are a mixed bag. My strategy in recent years is to go for the newest Residence Inn in town, as that brand is the best balance of quality and price in my experience. On the other hand, it’s rare that I find a Courtyard that isn’t a dump – and the same goes for most Sheratons and anything still branded simply “Marriott.” Corporate really needs put the screws to some of their franchisees and start purging the older properties.
I’ve gotten to the point where, if I can’t swing flying first class, or at least something like Delta Comfort, I don’t even want to go. Hell, thanks to COVID excuses, you still have upgrade on most airlines to get full beverage service – and alcohol is almost a requirement to tolerate the delays and shitty customer service. Last time I flew in late 2020, the first class American Airlines flight attendant literally told the cabin to “Get the hell out of here” when we landed.
I’m glad I rarely had to travel for work, as every company I’ve worked for as militant about their travel reimbursement policies as they were about handing out raises. If you can make your own bookings and use rewards points to your advantage like Bark does, business travel can fairly pleasant. If you’re stuck adhering to government per diem rates and taking evening/weekend flights because despite being a salaried employee your company won’t pay you for travel days, business travel really fucking sucks.
I can’t add much, my last two flights were in 2001 to Miami for a Carnival cruise, and in 2006 to Puerta Vallarta.
Fun fact, we arrived in Miami the same evening that kook set his shoes on fire…and had to take our shoes off for the flight home, and everyone else has, ever since…
I hate air flight. Not scared of flying, it just sucks. And all the bull you have to accept between entering the airport and the aircraft. Uck.
Nope, I drive. I basically have a radius from home base and encompassing St. Louis, Des Moines, Chicago, Lake Geneva and Milwaukee: that way I can drive to an event and return home the same day. What the hell, I have a Town Car…
The shoe bomber should have been marched to the middle of the runway upon arrival and made to light his shoes and blow himself up for the entertainment of the passengers.
That day I was on a different American Airlines flight from DFW to BOS, coming home on leave from Air Force tech school.
When I got off the plane and heard about that show bomber, I was spooked for sure.
I will flying home from London the day after the shoe bomber. Now THAT was an experience. ONE checkpoint in all of Heathrow to get to flight. Lines back up to airport doors. Lines outside airport doors backed up to parking lot. Lines in the parking lot to get to lines outside airport. Thank goodness for business class travel and the related British deference to class. We got let into the airport right away but the wait was still hours.
A whole ‘nother story – getting seated for the flight next to a young white girl from Ann Arbor who was all henna-ed up from a marriage to some Muslim guy who couldn’t make the flight. Keeping an eye on her when she went to the bathroom and the convenient flight tracker.
I wish you’d written this a decade ago, I learned a lot of this the harder way, albiet without quite as much travel. Also applause for making status on segments.
I did Delta silver that way my first year and I thought it was a lot of flying. Have struggled to stick with one hotel provider but Delta is really the one decent US airline.
For folks who travel somewhat but not extensively: the delta platinum amex is a pretty good value for money. No free skyclub passes, but you still get the companion certificate and voucher for global entry or pre-check.
Great advice and most of my colleagues that travel quite a bit follow most of these rules. I’ll take exception to #12 and since your brother recommended WaterField a few years ago, I’ve never looked back. I love their bags!
i have a contrarian view of business travel. i believe that when you travel for business you are working 24 hours for which you are paid 8. it’s true i’ve lost some lucrative opportunities because i don’t like to travel for work but the upside is that when i’m not on the clock, i can live comfortably on my own terms.
I can see that. But if you do it right, you can work 20 hours a week for which you are paid 40. Plus, you can live a lifestyle that is well beyond the means of your salary.
This is exactly the case – I haven’t traveled for almost four years – and my next vacation will be the first one I have paid for (out of pocket, anyway) in a decade.
When I was first married I really didn’t like the idea of travel. The first company I traveled for had a micro managing owner who watched expenses like a hawk. Very restrictive, not very fun. Most of my travel for them was to trade shows, and the only reason it worked at all was our suppliers wining and dining us in places like NYC. They had ridiculously low per Diem for meals and the owner would book all flights and hotels with his corporate card to collect the points. You basically were at work all the time. (this job also required salary employees to work 6 day weeks a coupe times a month to save on hourly employee costs)
My next job was very accommodating on travel, I set up everything my self I had flexible schedules, no arguing on reimbursement. Travel suddenly felt fun instead of like work.
After that I worked for a Fortune 500 and it was awful and luckily I did very little overnight travel because they required you book everything thru their corporate travel office, the travel office would book awful flight times etc. I gather higher up the ladder this was eased, but front line people it was painful. I know some one who works there that travels a ton, but they are up higher and in a special business unit so she gets to do all her own booking as she needs to be ready to fly with only hours notice.
After that I actually went back to the 2nd company where I still work. One of the reasons is the relaxed travel policy and that I’m in charge of my projects with little interference from above. I think company travel is a mindset but also a lot has to do with who you work for. The owner of my current company was on the road constantly the first 20 years he owned the company so I think he understands what is needed to make your employees happy.
“I think company travel is a mindset but also a lot has to do with who you work for.”
Agreed. Who you work with and the kind of work you do matters, too. The few times I’ve travelled for work, it involved visiting difficult customers with stiff, awkward coworkers that I had to share a rental car with and therefore also had to exclusively dine with. That’s torture. If I liked the people I was traveling with, or at least had my own rental so I could do what I wanted in the evenings, I probably would have been fine with it. It probably also would have helped if I didn’t hate my career at the time.
National FTW…my best experience with them was flying into JAX for a week-long trip, I had a “Standard Car” booked and with Emerald Isle, they let you just grab whatever car you want in that row. Somehow, a bright red Camaro V6 convertible was parked there. So….yup. That was my car. In Florida. For a week.
5 days of tooling around in that 6 pot drop top coupled with the 10 speed had me briefly shopping them when I got home, I’m not gonna lie…
Yeah I have had Mustangs and Camaros out of the Emerald aisle. I also loved the Camaro enough to shop them. The Mustang is the better daily driver but the Camaro just felt so much better flung hard on a back road. Oddly I have never gotten a challenger but a number of my coworkers have.
Yep. And where I was driving that week included plenty of 2 lane blacktop. Can confirm, the Camaro acquitted itself wonderfully, even on dirt roads. It’s also head-snappingly quick from 0 to 80.
I did have a local police car follow me through one little town in south Georgia. I set the cruise at 25 mph and eventually he gave up and turned off once we reached the edge of town.
Funny I just realized you said JAX, one of the Mustangs and a bright yellow Camaro were both at JAX.
Florida is rental car paradise. Always good options at MIA/FLL/PBI/MCO/TPA.
My personal secret of shame is how much I enjoyed driving a Buick Cascada around MIA. For that city, it’s really the perfect car.
Those are wonderful cars, and so is the Sebring. They just dare you to be snobby about an affordable convertible, and it’s impossible. All the Cascada needed was ballast hanging off the front and back because it looks like a kei car convertible.
Interesting post even if I don’t travel so much anymore.
I would like to hear more about the coaching and the leadership. Leadership tips and advice are always good to hear.
One thing with which I ALWAYS travel: a roll of Charmin toilet paper. The hotel stuff is abrasive recycled crap.
I’ve never been on a plane or out of New England for that matter. I used to want to go places until I found out how shitty they were. I would rather improve things at home than go live a fantasy somewhere else (talking about vacations, not business). Now I don’t see how relying on points programs that are coupons intending to increase volume business is useful in a world where this industry is being targeted. Kind of like dealer incentives today. I feel like this post is more for posterity. Maybe the glory days of Pan Am, exclusive, low volume luxury travel are coming back. That’s one way to increase legroom, too bad for those who have to go to Pennsylvania.
So you’ve never been on a plane, but you don’t understand why relying on loyalty programs is helpful? This is like a Jalopnik review of a Viper by somebody who takes public transportation.
Didn’t they do that?
Bark is this it? The author is from Gotham.
Alright let me wipe the tomatoes off my face. I’m just wondering how offering generous incentives to increase volume for non-multi millionaire business customers can possibly go on in a world where we deliberately turn our back on oil, and embrace remote conferencing. I know cell phone salesmen who bought a house and partied all over the world off of the Sprint commissions and corporate events gravy train, that train has since ground to a halt. I can imagine the CEO of the new merged company looking at the shaky post merger numbers trying to protect his own lifestyle, and telling his star sales trainer “Don’t we run a cell phone network? Just call them.”
That was a good read, overcooked on flourish but very low on substance. He couldn’t stop mentioning balls for some reason. But the best part was in the comments:
“This isn’t a buying guide, it’s more of an industry-wide leaderboard.”
A trick I learned, the hard way, was to use Mapquest to determine the travel time from your hotel to where you will be working at. The hotel “search” function gives you mileage “as the crow flies”, not actual travel time. I got burned due to having to travel to a company in southern (rural) Illinois. When I did a hotel search one popped up 12 miles away. Excellent. Problem was the hotel was west of the Mississippi river, and the company was on the east side. To get to the facility I had to drive north to St Louis, cross the river and then head back south due to St Louis being the closest bridge across the river. Ended up being a 70-80 minute trip.Recently Apple maps added a similar function so if I’m booking travel on my phone I can check it before I book.It’s not perfect but it does help.
Over the last couple years rental cars have become a crap shoot. Most companies liquidated a lot of their fleet and are only recently getting back to pre scamdemic levels. Seemed that no matter what you wanted, luxury/mid size/ van, they were out and trying to stuff you into some compact POS..
Hotels; if I’m going to be there for more than one night, I ALWAYS get a suite. The extra room, and amenities, are worth the upcharge. Typically if you are a diamond or platinum member of their rewards program the upcharge is zero or maybe $5-10.
Airports; many airport (major ones) websites will have place where you can get an idea of security wait times. I know it’s not perfect but it can help. TSA pre, as Bark stated, is a must. It is becoming more of a crap soot though.I have ran into a couple times at major airports where the wait time in Pre Check was nearly 45 minutes, due to only one checkpoint being open.
Airlines; it doesn’t seem to matter the airline, bulk of my travel is done on Southwest, the crazy’s seem to be more prevalent these days.I have seen behavior from grown adults that resembles a bunch of 5 year olds Last year I had a 10pm connection from Vegas to Burbank. Plane was 3/4, full mostly all VERY attractive females. I commented to a FA about that and she told me they called this flight the “Hooker Express”. Seems that these were high dollar escorts that went to Vegas for the weekend to hook up with a sugar daddy and were going back home.THAT was an interesting hour of my life.
Serious request: a pic of your packed carry on open with a view allowing us to see where the alleged contents are. Whenever I pack a carry on I’m amazed that a pair of shoes and shaving kit take up so much space. You seem to be cramming quite a bit into one.
Will do the next time I travel for a meeting that requires all of that. Probably late February.
Alas, I work for a Fortune 100 company and am forced to play by a lot of rules…Airline/hotel/rental car preferences have to fit thru the prism of “corporate agreements.” Hertz is our only choice for cars, airlines depend on the route and hotels are…complicated. That said, I can usually find a Hilton property (clinging to Diamond status) where I travel and can most times book on Alaska or SW (Left coast sales guy here) plus I have an Alaska miles card. All corporate travel expenses must go on the corporate Amex with no points for the weary traveler…but I can build status with personal use of my Alaska card. With all this in mind, I book direct flights whenever I can (especially in winter) and have no problem checking a bag.
Oh yeah, great to see you here again, Bark.
I, too, work for a Fortune 500 company with strict rules about travel, a mandatory corporate travel agency and booking site (Concur). I have never once used it.
I book all flights directly with Delta, all hotels directly with Marriott, and all rental cars directly with National. I get my hand slapped literally every month.
Fuck ‘Em. They’re not gonna fire me because I don’t play by their travel rules——or they haven’t yet, anyway. I think you might find the rules are more flexible than you think.
I’m a Hertz President’s Circle member. Any idea if that can be leveraged to a status of some kind at another rental company. Hertz was only a convenience at the time a couple years ago. I’d like to make a switch but like picking out whatever car I want from Hertz. TIA.
It’s worth a try. I was able to maintain the first level of status with Delta, due to my Executive Platinum status with American. I just had to call every year to get it renewed.
It might help to talk to someone, and let them know how often you travel.
Bark – glad to see you writing again.
Traveled for almost a decade, and this is really good advice. I was in Manufacturing, so the clothing selections were a little different – steel-toed shoes take up a lot of space, and it is easier to connect with your ‘audience’ if you are dressed like you don’t mind getting dirty.
I would only add one rule – #16 – under no circumstances fly out of BWI – terrible airport, terrible staff, and it takes more than 30 minutes to pick up or return your rental car.
Sad to hear about the quality of Hilton properties. I was always really happy with them. I still travel a couple times a year, and have not had any complaints.
Why Delta? Sharing stories with other road warriors, it seemed (to me) that AA treated their top status people much better. And I prefer O’hare and Dallas to Detroit and Atlanta. Maybe it is a region thing? Most food plants are in flyover country.
BWI, like every single other thing about Baltimore, is trash.
Source: lived there as a child, have been stuck there as an adult in the past.
I have never, NEVER, flown into or thru BWI without getting a delay. “Dang, a mosquito farted in Michigan, flight delayed”. John Rambo mode goes into standby.
BWI is the third option out of three shitty options in the DMV. I actually don’t mind Reagan, but there are very few flights in and out of there on Delta nowadays. The BWI rental car center is pure hell.
I always liked Reagan as long as I didn’t have to go through Gate 35X and get jam packed into a bus out to the tarmac. Thankfully that gate is gone now, because it was torture.
As far as hubs go, Charlotte’s the one I despise the most. You have to walk your ass off to get from gate to gate, and it sit on the plane FOREVER before takeoff or deplaning.
Charlotte is also awful. They really punish you for flying to small cities there, banishing you all the way to E terminal. At least there is a good pizza spot there, which can’t be said about the rest of that place. Almost impossible to get a good meal.
Charlotte is indeed a nightmare. The gates are not big enough to handle a full flight, so people spill out into the concourse, which just makes the congestion worse.
It does have an Einstein Brother’s, though – which is pretty rare for an AA hub.
And, I think the rocking chairs are a nice touch.
O’Hare is a horrible, horrible place. As I live in Lexington, any AA and United connections tend to route me there. DO NOT WANT.
DFW is sprawling and poorly organized. I DO love the Centurion Club there, but that’s it. In fact, I normally fly into Love instead, if I absolutely have to go to Dallas.
I have never gotten the O’Hare hate. Except for the long walking, with no ‘people mover’, it just doesn’t feel that awful. It does have terrible weather for 4-6 months per year, but it rarely bit me. The whole time I traveled, my home airport had flights three of the AA hubs, so I had a little flexibility there.
DFW is my ‘Merica! F-Yeah! airport. Yes, it is sprawling, and poorly organized – but it is so full of random crap, and decent food, I think that should be forgiven.
The tram is built for tight connections. Unlike Charlotte or O’hare, I never missed a flight out of there.
Despite status, I only had Admirals club for about a year and a half. AA gave it as a perk one year. In retrospect, I should have gotten the card – but my company was pretty militant about using their AMEX. At least they did let us keep the points from the card. (I am guessing that was required, rather than out of the kindness of their hearts.)
The attire points are excellent, I wish more would heed this advice. I’m so thankful I don’t have to rely on commercial travel anymore, but no “points” with the company plane. We keep vehicles at various FBOs or have a black car waiting.
My wife and I use the Amex Delta Platinum but its “rewards” are getting worse and so are the flights from our non-hub city. I’ve been seriously considering switching to Alaska since we live/travel around the northwest (or direct to Austin).
I guess it could be worse, we could live in the Midwest 😛
I mean a private jet doesn’t sound too terrible.
No TSA lines, and you know your luggage will get there at the same time as you!
Hardly ever need luggage. Eat a nice dinner, fly home and enjoy a night cap with the wife.
Very helpful and timely as I’ll be back to traveling for work very soon. Thanks Mark.