For years, I was reluctant to participate in any frequent flyer programs, as it seemed like a way to guarantee more spam mail and I couldn't understand what, if any, real benefit there was. My travel M.O. at that point was to jump on a discount airline site and the cheapest option I could find became my airline of choice. Sometime around early 2014, my need to travel for work increased dramatically, and I finally decided to make a commitment and tie that 30,000-foot knot.
As a frequent flyer and someone who often has to respond immediately to emails and inquiries, the business-related benefits that I have realized thanks to these programs have been invaluable. I noticed a dramatic increase in my work-travel productivity between benefits, third-party promotions and the lounge and business center amenities. What's more, it helped me realize that while video chat programs are invaluable, they are never going to be a substitute for sitting across a table from someone, looking them in the eye, deciding to enter into a business partnership together and shaking hands to seal the deal. Globalization is unstoppable, and as the world continues to become more connected, it is imperative not only that we maximize every available moment during travel, but that we arrive at our destination in a condition where we're ready to hit the ground running.
With this in mind, here are are my three recommendations for making the most of your air travel in 2018:
Pick a carrier, and sign up for its frequent flyer programs.
I knew that a substantial amount of my travel would be comprised of international locations, so I narrowed down my choice to the three U.S. legacy carriers. As I mentioned above, I chose Delta after researching the availability of direct flights on certain routes, the frequency of flights to specific destinations and average fares. It would behoove you to examine the hub and or headquarters of each of the carriers you're researching, especially as it pertains to your travel needs.
Consider applying for your carrier's affiliated credit cards.
The major carriers all have at least one affiliate card, and most of them have multiple options to suit your individual needs. The various cards offer a variety of incentives, including bonus points awarded for dollars spent on airline travel, complimentary checked-in airline baggage and discounted hotel accommodations. With some strategic planning, you could earn enough points on a single trip to start enjoying the benefits of membership.
Explore third-party programs.
Finally, I would advise you to explore third-party strategic partnerships offered by the airline carrier and its co-branded credit cards. I was pleasantly surprised to see each of the airlines offering discounted rates on everything from rental cars and hotels to courier services and gym memberships. As my necessity for travel increased, I found that something as simple as a gym within walking distance of my hotel was invaluable to my health and well-being.
Regardless of which carrier you choose, it's important to do your research ahead of time to discover which option makes the most sense for your situation. If you're a frequent traveler like me, these tips may help you master the art of air business travel.
Charles is a lawyer, restaurateur and consultant who owns and operates multiple hospitality concepts across the United States. Charles is recognized as one of the city’s leading experts on not only the operational aspects of restaurants but the equally important although lesser understood licensing, permitting and zoning of hospitality venues.
Charles has appeared on the podcasts Entrepreneur on Fire, Restaurant Unstoppable, and Theater of the Courtroom and has been featured in The Los Angeles Business Journal as “Best Up-and-Coming Restaurant Developer.” He has appeared in FLAUNT magazine’s “Power Hour” with a title reference “nightlife impresario.” And appeared in published editorials in Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Signature Magazine, and The Huffington Post to name a few.