Friday, July 8, 2011

To Go

The San Jose International Airport is quickly becoming my favorite Friday evening hangout spot.  Perhaps not by choice, but I have ended up there on three Friday evenings (two in the past three weeks!).  Tonight concludes my fourth work trip here (the first being the first week of May), and I am slated to return in 12 days (in a company where I get sent overseas with 24 hours notice, 12 days is nearly longterm!).

Up in the Air (2009.  George Clooney) is quickly becoming one of my favorite movies.  Maybe I still have those little travel annoyances, but I'm becoming quite accustomed to the routine of travel.  Over the course of the last few months, I have developed a few tricks and habits:

  • Keep an almost entirely separate set of toiletries.  Only once in a while do I need to replenish/restock.  The only things that get specially packed in my kit are tweezers and fingernail clippers.
  • Do laundry often.  In my job, I'm sometimes only given a day's notice of a trip.
  • Carry-on.  Always carry-on.  The last thing you want to do after a 14-hour flight is wait for luggage.  Or return to the airport for luggage that has been lost.
  • Check in online the day before.  Southwest doesn't give you assigned seating, but they do assign you a number (A1-60, B1-60, etc).  The numbers are assigned in the order of checkin.  Flights become available to check in about 24 hours before boarding time.  When flying Alaska, you will get assigned a seat.  Checking in the night before sometimes allows you to change your seats (also you get extra miles for checking in online).  I was assigned the last available seat (26B, a middle seat in the back of the plane), but when I checked in online, the unreserved Business Plus seats were available.  Hello, 7A (window, second row in coach)!
  • Sit as near to the front of the plane as possible.  When flying Southwest, I look for the first window or aisle seat with sufficient overhead luggage room.  Sitting near the front means getting off the plane faster, which means less time in the airport and less time in the plane.
  • Sign up for mileage and other frequent user plans.  I'm still not obsessed with accumulating miles, but I can see the advantages, which include upgrades and sometimes free flights/nights at hotels/etc. I may even get a credit card with mileage benefits.
  • Have your favorite off-site parking lot.  Mine is Park 'N Fly.  The shuttles are quick, the attendants are friendly, and the lots aren't sketchy.  Also, there are two lots: self park and valet.  I use the self-park for personal travel, but I prefer the valet lot for business (but I don't want to shell out the extra $3/day for my own vices).
This list is ever growing.  Stay tuned for more updates from the flight deck.

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