I’ve been doing this developer relations role officially for about a year now but unofficially I’ve been doing it for about 3 years now which has lead to me taking on the order of 200 separate flights. Here are a few things that I’ve learned that make airline travel more bearable.
I realize that not all of my findings will apply to everyone as I’m quite lucky to have the means and opportunities to put these practices into place but maybe something below may help you.
Focus on one Airline Group
One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was to focus on one of the three main airline groups (Star Alliance, OneWorld, SkyTeam). By taking as many flights as possible in the same airline group it will help you gain status quicker. Normally, I don’t care for status but when it comes to airline travel it really helps make your life more comfortable.
When you travel as much as many developer relation folks do, inevitably something will go wrong with your travel plans. It could be a mechanical issue, weather or just last minute meetings in a completely different country. Having status on your preferred airline becomes really useful in these situations as you get priority rebooking. As well, airline lounges make those long delays or layovers way more bearable.
So when you are booking your next trip don’t immediately jump at the cheapest flight. Pick the one that works for you and your travel plans.
Getting Through Security
Because I live in Canada and most of my travel takes me to the United States I generally have to clear security twice on every in bound and out bound trip. To that end I’ve found the Trusted Traveller Program to be very good. Once you are enrolled in the trusted traveller program you will be able to take the shorter Nexus lines in most Canadian airports or the TSA Pre check lines in the USA. Besides the shorter lines you’ll have less hassle going through security as you won’t need to remove quite so many articles of clothing or remove everything out of your bag.
Speaking of taking things out of your bag. If you can, skip the liquids. It’ll give you one less thing to worry about going through security. Once you get to your destination you can pick up the essentials you need or failing that when you check into your hotel you can request some toiletries to hold you over.
Now once you get on your flight…
Never Recline Your Seat!
In Favour: But…
In Favour: How about…
In Favour: Really?
Seriously though, you are a monster if you recline your seat. Modern airplanes have almost no extra room so if you recline your seat the person behind you has the choice of either staring at the top of your head all flight or reclining their seat thereby inflicting the same choice on the person behind them and so on and so on until some poor bastard is stuck not being able to recline because of a bulkhead. Also, for folks who have to work on the plane your reclining makes it impossible for them to open their laptop even if it is a 13” screen.
This may be an unpopular opinion but they minor improvement in the quality of your flight experience doesn’t even out when you consider the amount of discomfort you are causing. Luckily more and more airlines are removing or restricting reclining seats.
So if you shouldn’t recline your seat, how do you…
Get Some Sleep on the Flight
You don’t always need to be on your laptop on the plane. Sometimes air travel is a really good opportunity to watch a dumb movie or grab a few hours of sleep. Not everyone can sleep on a plane but I’ve found a couple of things really help me get some rest on a flight.
The first is a black out eye mask. I’ve been using a free one I received during an international flight with Air Canada. It has an extra section for your nose which really helps block out additional light. If you are looking to pick one up I think that is the defining feature, otherwise your nose will lift the mask away from your face defeating it’s whole purpose.
The second invaluable item is my noise cancelling headphones. Right now I have a pair of Bose QC 35 II’s and they do an amazing job of blocking out sounds. It doesn’t matter if is the hum of the airplane of the child crying 3 rows back. Aside: speaking of crying children on airplane’s, get over yourself. Those parents are doing everything they can to keep the kid from crying. They are incredibly stressed out and feel like everyone is judging them so have some empathy and don’t complain. You are the adult and can control your actions and emotions unlike the child.
Exploring a New City
Some of us developer relations folks are actually introverts in disguise. As much as I love my job dealing with people all day can be taxing. I love getting out into a new city and exploring by walking around. Instead of wandering aimlessly I like to do a bit of research ahead of time and see if I can find the best coffee or best donut in the city. In doing so I’ve found a bunch of great places all over the world to grab a cup of joe or scarf down a donut.
Whelp, that’s just a few things that help my my life better. What are your travel tips?