With a recent ranking of the best and worst airports to travel through as well as navigating busy airports due to holiday travel, knowing what to look for and what to avoid can help you travel more efficiently. Flying standby, getting delayed, or having a canceled flight can lead to missed opportunities. It can also put a damper on productivity.
When it comes to business travel, the cheapest flight isn't necessarily the best one. If you travel the same routine for business often, you likely know the tips and tricks for getting through the airport quickly. But if you're traveling an unfamiliar route or are just generally new to business travel, you may want to consider these factors when booking your next flight.
1. Does the airport have lounge access?
Having access to a space that you can get work done can be super beneficial. Unless the lounge is overly busy, you won't have to fight for a space to work. You also have more opportunities to charge your devices.
Most lounges offer complimentary food, snacks, and drinks (certain alcoholic beverages usually cost though). The Centurion Lounges, for example, take extra care by selecting award winning chefs to curate their lounge menus with a local flair. Lounges may offer showers, private rooms, spa treatments, and even hair salon services so you can relax and refresh.
There are even lounges that are whole terminals, such as the Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt. The Emirates First-Class Lounge in Dubai International Airport is so big, you can actually board your flight from the lounge!
While some of these lounges are exclusive to those with a first-class ticket, know that lounge access isn't exclusively for the rich. You can pay for an airport lounge membership, such as Priority Pass, that will get you in to over 1,300 locations. Alternatively, if you're flying a certain class like first-class or have elite status, you likely get in for free.
You can also use a travel credit card that has airline lounge perks as one of their benefits. Select airline cards like those from Delta and United have lounge access. Usually if a card is charging a high annual fee, they likely have high-quality perks like lounge access.
2. Are there security clearance perks?
TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, and CLEAR are all services offered that are intended to help speed up the security process. However, you may surprised to know that not every airport offers these services. Being that CLEAR is the newest of these, you will find that their services are only located in 60+ domestic locations.
If you aren't already enrolled in these programs and you travel often, I highly recommend them. They can be a lifesaver when you are delayed as well as during heavy travel periods.
Plus, just as you can get airport lounge access with a premium travel credit card, you can also get access to TSA PreCheck or Global Entry for free through a fee credit. And, many of the cards that offer these travel perks are also some of the best metal credit cards available.
Note that Delta SkyMiles members and United MileagePlus members get a discount on CLEAR membership annually.
3. What does their on-time record look like?
Knowing how often an airport has on-time flights can help you make the better decision. The Bureau of Transportation's Airline On-time Statistics Finder and FlightStats can help you sort through the times to make the best decision.
4. Do they have other flight options should you get delayed?
If you are not able to fly directly to your destination and are taking a late flight out, consider the possibility of any delays or cancelations. If you are debating between the smaller, more relaxed airport with no other flight options out versus a larger airport that may be able to reroute you should there be a cancelation or delay, carefully consider your schedule and if you can afford to be delayed.
I say this because I recently had an evening flight to Los Angeles that had a stopover in Denver. However, the flight to Denver was delayed and would've caused me to miss the last flight for L.A. Thankfully, the agents were able to reroute me so that I could make it.
Had I been in a smaller airport, I don't think I would've had any options other than see what's available in the morning. Since I was on a presentation deadline, the former was the better option.