The end of the year is a popular travel time for visiting friends and family. According to predictions from AAA, more than 107 million Americans will travel in the last week of December this year.
But that doesn't mean that corporate travel comes to a halt. In fact, many businesses take part in trips closer to the new year to ensure that priorities and partnerships start on the right foot come January 1st. With that said, an influx of consumer travelers packing airports, hotels and car rental agencies can make things difficult for business travelers.
As managers and travel arrangers plan trips for employees during these final weeks of the year, there are a few things travelers should keep in mind to make their business trips enjoyable and free from stress.
1. Avoid traveling on Mondays and Fridays
There are certain days that are historically busy for travel. While Mondays have a reputation for being notoriously bad travel days, Fridays are equally risky.
According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Mondays saw more flight cancellations than any other day of the week - more than 14,000 so far in 2017.
People traveling on Fridays in 2017, however, experienced longer delays. Friday arrival delays and departure delays in the first nine months of 2017, as calculated by the BTS, each totaled nearly 10 million minutes. If able, business travelers should avoid planning trips that arrive or depart on a Monday or Friday.
2. Breeze through security
Airports are more crowded than usual at this time of year, so everything slows down. Don’t want to wait in those long security checkpoint lines? Sign up for TSA PreCheck or CLEAR. Both can save travelers a lot of valuable time so long as they plan effectively.
TSA PreCheck requires the submission of an online application as well as a scheduled in-person meeting at an enrollment center. Travelers can sign up for CLEAR online or at select airports, but be sure to check which airports have it available before signing up.
3. Don't forget about possible weather delays
During the holidays, there's the potential for delay at almost every turn. According to estimates from the Federal Aviation Administration, delays cost business travelers $63 for every hour spent waiting. Proper planning and proactive strategies can help alleviate these stresses.
Employees and travel managers should sign up for flight status updates through mobile apps such as Direct2U so they stay in the loop in the event of a weather-related delay.
4. Know baggage rules beforehand
It is easy to incur additional charges at the airport if travelers don’t account for their luggage ahead of time. Researching the airline baggage policy and checking the company’s travel policy in advance can prevent last minute issues. A travel policy should have a clear direction on ancillary fees. Travelers need to understand what is allowed and what is reimbursable when it comes to checked luggage.
Also, if travelers are bringing gifts to clients, they should consider leaving them unwrapped. While wrapped gifts are allowed, they are not encouraged because if there is something in the gift that needs to be inspected, the TSA officers will have to open it.
Lastly, airports can get very hectic around the holidays. Travelers should ensure that their luggage is tagged with a name, address, and a phone number and not left unattended while at the airport.
5. Trust your travel professionals
Partnering with a travel management company means a better travel experience, especially around the holidays. Nothing is worse than sitting in a crowded terminal after a delay, cancellation or missed connection, trying to figure out next steps. A grounded flight can easily compromise an important in-person meeting or create a missed return on investment opportunity.
When travelers make their travel arrangements through Direct Travel, we have a staff of highly trained travel advisors equipped to find the best solutions for getting our clients back on the road, in the air and on their way. For more information on intelligent travel solutions for the holiday season and beyond, reach out to Direct Travel today.