Since joining Yellow Pages Group as an employee in 2006, I have spent a lot of time in airplanes and hotels. My airline of choice is Air Canada (yes, I am Super Elite) because of the upgrades to business class; which despite what some Westjet loyalists say (you know who you are) is important when you plan to do work. For the most part my experience has been pretty good, but then there are the odd times things get messed up.
I have had allot of firsts in the past 6-years (losing luggage, delays, getting spit on accidentally by kids, seen people get kicked off the plane, seats breaking mid-flight) but this past Sunday I experienced another first. This time, as I was boarding the plane, the attendant pulls me back and says, “sorry sir but you have been off-boarded from this flight by your concierge“. For context, I was on the 9am flight leaving Calgary to Toronto and was seated in 4A. After waiting until the plane was fully boarded the gate attendant spoke to my concierge service. Turns out she made a mistake by hitting the wrong key on the computer which off-boarded me that resulted in the gate attendant giving another person my seat. Anyway, I got my seat back after the gate attendant went onto the plane to tell the person sitting in 4A that they will have to move back into economy.
This day their might have been two firsts; getting off-boarded and being only minutes away from enjoying business class only to be bumped in the last minute. That person was definitely enjoying business case; they had already finished their pre-flight orange juice.
Speaking off travel I am also an avid user of FourSquare. Really interesting usage of the FourSquare API is by a company called tripsQ. Basically you connect your FourSquare account and it provides you with a nice visual of key stats regarding your travel. Since 2010 I have travelled 87% of the distance to the moon.
If I had data going back to 2006, I think I might be at the moon and back twice already.
Click here to see the my tripsQ page - http://tripsq.com/darbysieben
I travel a lot for my work as head of business development for Yellow Pages Group. In fact, I have spent so much of my time in airplanes and hotels that I have achieved Super Elite status with Air Canada and a Platinum member at Starwood Properties. I was telling some of my co-workers things that I do to help in speeding up travel and they suggested that I should write a blog post about some travel tips that anybody can use. .
So, here are some tips that I have put together that make my travelling life a little easier. Hopefully you find a couple of these useful in your travels.
Tip #1 – Purchase Some Space Saver Bags (the non-vacuum type)
I try not to check any luggage preferring instead to take carry-ons; I find it much faster when you don’t check luggage to get out of the airport. The issue with carry-ons is making sure you don’t exceed the size limit. What I find works out well to allow you to pack up to 7-days worth of clothing is the space saver bags. However, make sure you don’t buy the ones that require a vacuum cleaner (good for when you leave, not so good when at the hotel) – instead buy the ones that you simply use your body to push out the air. Weight
Personally, these have helped a great deal in not having to check luggage. They are great if you are using a airline size piece of luggage or simply looking to add your clothes to a backpack – it keeps them nice and tight. Downside; you may run into the issue where some clothes need to be ironed.
Tip #2 – Know Your Airplane and Which Bag to Bring
I mostly fly Air Canada and when you book with them they always tell you the airplane in which you are flying in. Notice the screenshot below but the numbers that are E90, 320, 321, tell you the aircraft. The one to be particularly aware of is the E90 or the CRJ because checked luggage can be an issue if you are sitting in executive class. For example on the “left side of the plane” if you are looking towards the cockpit in seats 1a, 2a and 3a the overhead bin is extremely small and will not fit any luggage. On the “right side of the plane” the bins are larger but you cannot exceed the recommended size of luggage. This overhead bin will fit jackets, backpacks or even a small duffle bag.
When I am doing a short-haul, less than 3-nights (usually this means Calgary-Montreal), I will pack in a small backpack my clothes (using a space saver bag) and liquids. Specially here I will use the backpack because it allows me to use the small overhead bins. There is always lots of room, easy to grab stuff out when you deplane and you don’t have to worry about anybody squishing your stuff.
Tip #3 – Know your Airports for Mobile Checkin
This one is probably going to change, but here is my experience this year with mobile checkin. The Montreal airport has the proper scanners to get through the priority line as well as security. I find that Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver tend to take longer when using mobile check-in because they don’t have the proper mobile scanners. I even had one person tell me that this was not a boarding pass, thank goodness for other employees in the security line. For now, if I am leaving out of Montreal I will go mobile check-in all the time. For the other airports in Canada, I will use a paper boarding pass and flying out the US (at least the places I have been) I will continue to use a paper boarding pass.
Note: in Montreal you don’t have to be a frequent flyer to use mobile checkin. Anybody can and if you select that option, you can get through security much faster.
Tip #4 – Know Which Clothes Set Off the Security Alarm
Flying out the US it is a policy to remove your footwear. In Canada, it does seem to be a hard and fast policy (sometimes I have gone through with shoes, sometimes I am asked to remove them). I have one pair of shoes that always set-up off the alarm. When I wear these, whether asked or not, I will remove them – otherwise I will end up spending more time in the security line.
This is the same for belts. Some of my belts will not set-up the alarm, others will. I have a good inventory of knowing which ones will and will not. That said, this is a trial and error learning, so this tip is really meant for those frequent flyers.
Tip #5 – If you have a an iPhone, useful Mobile Applications I use when travelling
YellowPages.ca Business/People Finder – handy application, very clean and simple (read one of my previous blog post on this application) and a great tool for looking up businesses and/or people in your destination city. YellowPages.ca iPhone launches iTunes, YellowPages.ca Android and other devices. For Blackberry text – blackberry to 411411 for the application.
Skype – this is a killer application that can save you tons of money on roaming charges. Note: you need to be connected via WIFI to use, but most hotels offer WiFi. You can then make calls use this application and forgo any roaming charges (great when you are in the US) and pay Skype’s low per minute fees. The only issue – if you receive a text or you have your calendar set to notify you of a meeting, it will drop the call. Still not 100% but I have saved hundreds this year on long distance/roaming calls from my cell. Skype for the iPhone.
Here are a few other applications that I use when travelling:
- Restaurantica – good for looking at reviews of Canadian restaurants
- YellowPages.com Mobile – US based find a business search
- Globe and Mail – keeps me up to date on CDN news when I am away
- Shooger – mostly US, but a great application for coupons and deals
- Yelp – really good for restaurant reviews while in the US
- Facebook – you need to stay connected
- Tweetie 2 – a must have if you use Twitter
This are a few that I use regularly when travelling – if you have others that you recommend, please enter them in the comments section.
Tip #6 – Bring the Right Power Connections
If you plan to work on the airplane there are two power connections that you can leverage. The USB connection that is in the TV (great for charging your phone) and the regular power jack that is connected to your seat.
For MacBook Pro users, remember to bring your regular power cord attachment for the 3-prong, otherwise, your standard power cord won’t work on the airplane.
Those are 6 of my most common travel tips that I would recommend. If you have other travel tips that you would like to share, please feel free to comment.