Experienced business travellers soon realise that, without careful planning, time spent travelling to and waiting at airports can easily double journey time. These two time-consuming problems need to be examined separately.

Reaching the airport

There are pros and cons for each method of travelling to an airport that deserve attention:

By road

Pros – flexible departure time from office, offers privacy and security with minimal walking with luggage. Use of your own car is cheap, while taxis provide an opportunity to work.

Cons – Traffic delays, stress, and the cost of a taxi or parking your own car.

Note also that persuading a friend or colleague to drive you to the airport can be a cost-effective, time-effective and flexible solution.

Public transport

Many cities have dedicated public transport systems for airport travellers. Their effectiveness may depend on where you start your journey. The bus, train and metro/underground systems available at most airports need careful consideration.

Pros – cheap, no parking problems, and usually provide direct delivery to terminal.

Cons – liable to unforeseen delays. Can be crowded and uncomfortable, with no privacy or security. Carrying luggage can be awkward, and you still have to travel from office to station

Note that other services may be available at some airports. Look out for shuttle bus systems that offer collection and delivery services to and from specific hotels and addresses, and time-saving check-in systems at public transport stations.

Check-in times

Check-in times often assume an advisory capacity in frequent travellers' minds. They become expert at leaving their check-ins later and later, and we've all seen flights delayed for one solitary late-arriving passenger. You can get away with it but, equally, the risk gets bigger the later you leave the check-in. Passengers who try this do get left behind. The airline has no obligation to wait for passengers who ignore their recommended minimum check-in times.

Nevertheless, the more business-oriented airlines and airports realise that the long check-ins required for tourists are not always appropriate for business travellers and some provide fast-track check-in facilities. However, though they speed the process, their effectiveness is erratic and unpredictable.

Try to:

  • Call to confirm flights and check delays in advance
  • Get directions to the check-in desk, including the nearest car park and terminal entrance
  • Choose airlines using ticket less systems
  • Avoid busy flights on popular routes
  • Be wary of changing a flight system that you are comfortable with
  • Travel with only hand-baggage, as this speeds the process

Some waiting is inevitable, so use the time profitably by working in executive lounges (for business class passengers) and business centres provided in some airports.