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Travel light and right this conference season

Learn the tricks of air travel to make your trip stress free.

December 18, 2017  By Turf and Rec Staff

With industry conference season fast approaching, landscape professionals, golf superintendents, sports turf managers and others involved in the professional maintenance of turfgrass are starting to make their travel plans. In many cases, such travels involve air transportation.

Venture capitalist, college professor, speaker and author Richard Moran – himself a veteran of many business flights – offers his list of do’s and don’ts when traveling by air with the aim of making trips by aircraft as effortless and worry-free as possible.

In his latest book, he recounts one of his own trips from San Francisco to New York City during which everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. The disaster involved a red-eye flight, a last-minute re-ticket to a middle seat, a seatmate toting a cat (to which Moran was allergic), someone else’s medical crisis, an emergency landing in Chicago, a post-landing “sink shower” and public suit change in the JFK lavatory, and a stressful taxi ride rushing to a meeting that was ultimately canceled at the last minute.

“There were many trips like that, and after a while one becomes inured to the indignities,” Moran, author of The Thing About Work: Showing Up and Other Important Matters (Routledge, 2016, ISBN: 978-1-62956-158-5, $22.95), said. “But along the way you learn tricks from fellow road warriors, the tricks they typically don’t want to tell the newbies.”


Moran, who currently serves as president of Menlo College in Atherton, Calif., has pioneered the “Business Bullet Books” genre for more than a decade. Blending corporate and academic experience and leadership with everyday insight, relaxed humour, and a touch of pathos, his advice is not only highly applicable to any person contemplating how to navigate their career as well as its travels; it makes the contemplation and journey itself more enjoyable.

Back to the subject at hand, the entire process of business air travel is fraught with land mines that, if navigated incorrectly, can ruin the way you get there, and maybe even your performance after you do. Here, Moran spells out 10 travel do’s and don’ts to learn before you leave for the airport:


Don’t check a bag. “It’s not about the fees or the schlep factor,” he said. “It’s about changing flights, which you’ll want to do at some point. When this inevitably happens, the first question any gate agent will ask you: ‘Did you check a bag?’”

Don’t get behind the family. “When it comes to airport lines, find a fellow road warrior to get behind,” Moran said. “As cute as babies are, getting in line behind the family with the stroller at security is just plain inefficient, and it’s going to slow you down.”

Don’t expect an upgrade. “Getting a surprise upgrade may be everyone’s fantasy, but the chances of this happening these days, even for frequent business travelers, are few and far between in the age of computerized automated seating and stricter airline regulations,” he said. “But do remember as you file through those marginally larger, overpriced seats on your way to coach: You’re all ending up in the same place.”

Do go into Zen mode… You may be thousands of feet in the air, but any kind of travel is a breeding ground for anxiety, impatience, and frustration. While total inner calm is probably impossible, do your best to not let the sounds, smells, and other annoyances get to you.

“Your state of mind won’t magically transform when the wheels hit the runway, and ‘disgruntled’ isn’t productive.”

…so, don’t travel with your boss on a flight that lasts more than an hour. Being stuck inches away from your boss isn’t “Zen” conducive. They say the experience of traveling together is so illuminating that it can decide if your significant other is truly “the one.”

Alas, your boss is not your boyfriend, girlfriend, or anyone you’d want to reveal the cooped-up, trapped-in-the-air side of your personality to, and certainly not the best shoulder to sleep (and probably drool) on.

Don’t use the front pockets. The Bermuda Triangle of air travel is real, and it’s sitting right in front of you.

“Anything you place in the handy pocket will likely be forgotten, lost, and never retrieved,” Moran said. “Airlines aren’t exactly known for their lost and found departments.”

Do bring reading material. “No matter how much work you have to do, breaks are essential,” Moran advised. “Bring a book, either a paper or electronic one. And People magazine doesn’t count. Remember, interesting people do well, and interesting people read.”

Do bring headphones. “You may not be a music enthusiast, but nothing says, ‘I don’t want to talk to you,’ like a good pair of headphones,” he said. “Plus, airline headphones aren’t very good. Pop in your own pair and save yourself a lot of distraction.”

Do be alert for bad news. There are certain phrases that every seasoned traveler knows signal doom. They range from the obvious “unfortunately…” to “shuttle bus,” “system problems,” “storm,” or, “The president is in town,” to what Moran considers the absolute worst: “We’re going to need to check that bag.”

They can come from the cockpit, a text, or maybe even the mouth of another weary traveler. And Moran reminds us: The “good news, bad news” expression never carries real good news.

And last…don’t go (if at all possible). Moran reminds us of the airplane conundrum of the seat-in-front-of-you kickback. No matter your etiquette, there’s no way you’ll have room for your laptop.

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