Tips to Smooth Your Business Travel, from Booking to Transit
The shooting earlier this month at Fort Lauderdale International Airport that killed 5 people and wounded 6 others has business travelers on edge. And rightfully so, as every such incident that causes mayhem to the traveling public serves as a reminder that it could have just as easily happened to anyone. Each new incident also adds to the likelihood of increased risk, time-consuming airport security measures, and more delays in your travel time.
As a seasoned business traveler, you take care of all the pre-trip details related to ensuring your safety and well being while traveling, right? Let’s run through them to make sure:
- Familiarize yourself with your destination and avoid travel to high-risk destinations.
- Keep abreast of any Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) changes to security screening procedures.
- Provide your itinerary, lodging information, and copies of important information (including travel documents) to a family member or close friend for use in case of emergency. This is especially important IF your company does not utilize the services of a travel management company (TMC).
- Print copies of your travel documents to carry separately in case needed due to loss, theft or restricted internet access.
- Ensure that your prescriptions are filled and packed in your carry-on luggage. Consider carrying an extra pair of eyeglasses in your checked luggage. You should also have copies of your prescriptions (including eyeglasses); a written description of your blood type, medical conditions, and allergies; and a letter from your doctor explaining the reasons for any medications you may have on hand.
- Remember, carry-on liquids are restricted to 3.4 ounces or less per container (with exemptions for medical liquids, but make sure you declare the meds during screening), and containers need to be displayed in a resealable see-through bag.
- Bring a copy of your travel health insurance information. And on that note, review your existing plan to determine what is and what is not covered.
- Have a plan for backup money in case of theft or other loss. Consider keeping a cash stash hidden in your suitcase or clothing. Also, have a family member or friend who is able to wire or otherwise transmit money to you in cases of emergency.
- Research your destination with regard to visa requirements, local laws, customs, and available medical care.
- Check the latest news, travel warnings or alerts for your destination.
- Receive the recommended vaccinations for your destination and keep on top of the latest health precautions.
- Check exchange rates, notify your credit card company, and check on the compatibility of your cash/debit/credit cards with local ATMs and other financial transaction methods.
- Make a copy of contact and location details in both English and the local language for the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for the country you plan to visit.
Even if you are a seasoned business traveler, little can really prepare you to deal with the turmoil of what may happen should a terrorist incident, or other travel-related disaster, occur while you are in transit. Nevertheless, there are some steps you can take while in transit to mitigate risk, and some steps you can take if the unthinkable were to actually happen.
- Be Alert! If you see something suspicious, report it to the nearest security personnel. This falls under the Department of Homeland Security’s “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign, which suggests reporting a variety of potentially suspicious activities, such as unattended luggage, vehicles parked in odd locations, open and un-monitored restricted access areas, and persons engaged in questionable or odd activities.
- Always take stock of your surroundings. Take note of emergency exits, fire alarms, security personnel positioning, and the overall layout.
- Keep constant track of your personal items such as carry-on luggage, wallet, purse, and any important documentation.
- Reduce your time in transit to the extent possible by enrolling in one of the Department of Homeland Security’s “Trusted Traveler Programs”—“Pre,” “Global Entry,” “Nexus,” and “Sentri”—which expedite approved passengers’ screening procedures.
- Keep away from crowded areas whenever possible. For example, if an adjacent boarding area is empty, consider waiting for your flight there.
- In the event of an incident, try to determine its source. Depending on the nature of the “incident” and its location you can either hide and shelter in place; head for an exit; assist those in need; direct security personnel towards the incident; or some combination thereof. There is no easy answer because every situation is different, but if you are already attuned to the mantra of traveling smart and traveling safe, you will be better prepared to react to any such incidents than most people.
TMCs are intimately familiar with the myriad protocols, procedures and challenges involved in transporting millions of business travelers around the globe every week. As such, they provide extensive assistance to their business traveler customers in navigating through the numerous demands of travel.
Your personal safety and protection is an important consideration. While missing a business flight due to cancellation is bad enough, arriving at a destination under threat of imminent terrorism, unfolding natural disaster or rising political discord could prove worse. Thus, JTB USA Business Travel’s destination-based Travel Risk Alerts focus on all potential threats and risks, whether those impeding travel or those representing a threat to your personal safety and health.
While not as comprehensive and not tailored for each business traveler’s specific itinerary, JTB USA Business Travel also issues Travel Risk Alerts on its Twitter feed, which you can follow @JTBUSABizTravel for updates.
In addition to being able to receive Travel Risk Alerts, JTB USA Business Travel also monitors global events in real time and, should a traveler be affected, not only will the traveler be contacted for assistance but the company will also be informed of the situation.