The other day my client told me that he had to be in London on business and consequently wouldn’t be available for our next scheduled online lesson. The conversation naturally led to the topic of business travel and, particularly, the pros and cons of travelling by air or by rail.
Travelling by Rail
My client, who is based in Milan, often has to travel around Italy and more often than not takes the train to get to the main cities. If his meetings are in the city centres, he says travelling by train is the best option. Most train stations are located in the centre of cities and therefore, getting to clients’ offices is a lot easier than from an airport which tends to be outside a city. Nowadays, with high-speed trains you can get to your destination in no time at all.
A further advantage of the train is that you don’t have to arrive 2 hours before departure. I realise that with domestic flights the waiting time is less, but it is still longer than a train. If you’re travelling by train, you only have to arrive 30 minutes before departure, hop onto the train and you’re off!
Whether you are travelling First Class or Standard Class, you can select a carriage that has the facilities for you to work – Wi-Fi connection and power access to charge your laptop, tablet and phone. Train travel allows business travellers to work comfortably during their journey. The only snag, though, is that, unless you’ve booked a quiet carriage, you could end up sharing your carriage with some very noisy mobile phone users
Travelling by Air
Depending on your destination, you may have no alternative but to travel by air. For those of us who are lucky to travel in Business or Club class, there is nothing quite like the luxury of using the First Class Lounge at the airport after check-in. The comfortable seats, free drinks and food and relaxing environment set you up for the flight ahead.
My client and I joked about how great it feels to board the plane and turn left (Business Class) instead of right! The wide seats with spacious legroom are very comfortable. Soon after you’re seated the air hostess serves you a drink (often alcoholic, unless it’s an early morning flight). The food is served in proper crockery and not plastic trays. On long-haul flights, you are given a goodies bag with all sorts of things like a toothbrush, toothpaste, flight socks, an eye pad, and good quality earphones (for the films).
My client and I both agree that Club Class is essential when travelling long haul. On short haul flights, however, Economy class is bearable! You might not have the legroom, but on some flights you can ask for the emergency exit seats or pay extra for more legroom. A lot of the budget airlines like Easyjet give you the option to do just that. My husband is tall and I always have to book the emergency exit seats. Of course, the budget airlines don’t have Club Class so everyone is together. In these difficult economic times, most companies will not approve business class travel for their employees, especially for short haul flights.
Travelling by air requires you the passenger to arrive around 2 hours before departure for check in. Most airlines ask you to check in online before arriving at the airport. That way you already have your boarding pass. Unless you have hold luggage, you can go directly to security with your carry-on (cabin) luggage without queuing at the check-in desks. Airport security can be rather tiresome but it has become a part of flying and something that has to be tolerated.
If you are flying short haul and have arranged meetings for the day of travel, you may choose to catch an early morning flight. My client was catching the 7am flight today to London. That would have allowed him to attend his first meeting scheduled at 9am. With London being one hour behind, he would have arrived in London at 7.30am (UK) – 8.30am Italy.
When I give training workshops, I prefer to arrive at my destination the night before. So, I will take an early evening flight and stay overnight. That way I have time to prepare the venue and the equipment for the workshop the following day.
For the long haul flights some travellers prefer to travel through the night and arrive at their destination in time for their meeting. These are known as red eye flights. I am not sure I’d like that because unless you have a great night’s sleep during the flight, you wouldn’t be in a position to perform efficiently. You may also have jet lag to deal with depending on how many timezones you’ve travelled.
Business travel may sound glamorous with all that Club Class service and benefits, but it can also be exhausting. What do you think?
Do you travel for business? Is it by train or air? Or do you drive? I used to do a lot of business miles on the road. While it allowed me to listen to the radio, it was exhausting and often very time-inefficient. I am very glad that part of my life is past me.
What do you like or dislike most about business travel? I’d love you to share your business travel experiences with me.
Ciao for now