This summer will be one of the busiest travel seasons in U.S. history with a projected 246 million passengers (or 2.7 million/day) between June 1-August 31, according to a report from Airlines for America. This isn’t necessarily the best news for business travelers, as it can mean more queues, crowds and potential delays throughout the airport.
Here are a few tips from travel experts to help make the most of your summer business travel:
Use your miles for upgrades
While economy fares go up with the high demand from vacationers in the summer, business class fares actually tend to drop due to less business travel. If you can spare miles for an upgrade, it might be worth it.
Sign up for programs like TSA Pre, Global Entry and Clear
Scott Monty, managing partner at Brain+Trust Partners, shares “Business travelers might find themselves frustrated as they deal with people who are traveling for leisure. One way to avoid this stress is to get a CLEAR membership. Available at a couple dozen airports in the United States, the service allows you to bypass the security line. No need to take your ID out and wait at the kiosk. When combined with TSA Pre, it’s a no-brainer.”
Similarly, Jeannette Kaplun, TV host and founder of Hispana Global, recommends the Global Entry program. “Not only will Global Entry make passport control a breeze when you return to the US, but it also comes with TSA Pre. Just make sure to enter your Trusted Traveler number in your profile with each airline you will fly with. Several credit card companies will even refund you the $100 application fee.”
Fly in the morning to avoid being impacted by other flight delays
Rieva Lesonsky, president of GrowBiz Media and SmallBizDaily.com, suggests never taking the last flight of the day because if it’s cancelled, you’re in trouble. She went on to advise “Dallas, Charlotte, Atlanta and Chicago are major hubs, and bad weather in any of these places can affect travel throughout the country. Flying early can help you avoid cascading travel delays and cancelations.”
Use travel apps
Entrepreneur and travel expert Lee Abbamonte recommends using travel apps to stay organized. “I never travel without TripIt Pro. I use it to stay up to the minute with flight alerts and gate notifications, but also for features like security wait times and interactive airport maps that help me get through the airport quicker.”
Plus, if your company uses SAP Concur, you might be one of the many travelers with a complimentary subscription to TripIt Pro (normally $49/year). Visit the SAP Concur App Center and search for “My Travel Network” to find out.
Book non-stop flights
Adventurer and travel filmmaker JJ Yosh recommends buying non-stop flights to minimize risk while traveling. “While the lower price tag on connecting flights might be tempting, delays can end up costing you even more money and worse, your precious time. The last thing you want to do is miss a meeting or event because you’re stuck at a connecting airport.”
Use lounges to get work done
When the airport gets busier, so do the terminals. If you need to get work done, head to the lounge. There’s often desk space, reliable Wi-Fi and less noise. Plus, you can enjoy complimentary snacks and drinks.
Choose the right hotel
Avoid hotels near popular tourist attractions, as those can get busier during the summer. This will help you spend less time getting from your hotel to meetings or events you’re scheduled to attend.
Sign up for loyalty programs
Pam Rossi of Always 5 Star advises, “As a frequent traveler you can greatly benefit from hotel and airline loyalty programs. Use your points for things like flight/room upgrades, free nights, priority boarding and lounge access.”
Pack extra clothes
It’s always a good idea to pack extra business attire, but especially during the summer months. Imagine wearing a suit during a humid summer day in New York… chances are you’re going to want an extra dress shirt to change into.
Make it a bizcation
Spencer Spellman of Whiskey Tango Globetrot recommends extending a business trip into a leisure trip. He shares, “I’d rather extend the trip by a couple days (or arrive early), and actually get to experience the place I’m traveling to, and then fly on days that aren’t so busy, especially during summer. In Seattle that may be catching a ferry to the islands or in San Francisco going out to wine country.”
Have some tips of your own to share? Tweet us @TripIt.