So you get on the road and you have to choose what to do. You want to stay connected and you want to reduce the amount of time spent FIXING things.
What do you do â€“ where do you go? For real road warriors (like me, a 200K+ a year man) what we want is our own dedicated Road Warrior Hangout.
However, we are usually cheap fellowsâ€¦ why pay for stuff you can get for free?
That has become something of the sport we try and get the best stuff we can without paying extra for it. Yes we are all GCCs (George Clooney Clones from Up In The Air), but very real in the way we travel.
Letâ€™s start with the best place to hang out onlineâ€¦
- The Frequent Flyerâ€™s mecca: aka Randy Petersenâ€™s WebFlyer – everything you ever wanted to know about how to snag seats, upgrades and get the best deals is here.
- Because we fly a lot we want to rub shoulders with the real elite flyers – the pilots. For that we need to go to PPRUNE (named for Pilot Officer Prune who was a World War 2 fictitious British fighter pilot). This is where you hear all the weird stuff about planes and the people who fly them. Plus who is unhappy with who. The official name is the Professional Pilots Rumour Network. This is where I go for information about what other people are doing.
NB: There are a few guerilla iPhone apps out there which give you some good info. But they tend to be isolated. You have to work extra hard to find them and then be able to use them.
So what about snagging the best seats in the house?
That is an art form. Every FF has his own techniques. Some of them are public, some are subtle and really do work. But it is considered not good to share with the general public.Â But I will tell you what you should do…
Firstly, donâ€™t rely on the airlineâ€™s definition of premium seats. That is not really a good measure or guide. I know many airline seats that the airlines charge for that are REALLY bad.
So for that information go to someone like SeatGuru.com. I have a running battle with what seems to be the lone staffer over the quality of their information.
Yes, they were still showing Northwest seat maps when the airline has closed, but SeatGuru has most of the major airline details and a guide as to which ones are good. There are a couple of other tools like ExpertFlyer. Some good â€“ some not so good.
That leaves us with best lounges and best places to stay connected.Â Letâ€™s start with airlines. Which carrier has the best wi-fi?
Gizmodo says Delta. I agree â€“ most planes in the sky have it. Of the five airlines I have tried wi-fi, Delta had the best performance. Here, for example, Â is the best list of wi-fi on US airlines,Â although it is getting dated, fast.
NB: A small warning on Delta â€“ avoid Minneapolis and Detroit when connecting planes as only a few of these ex-Northwest aircraft have wi-fi at the moment.
So what about wi-fi in airport lounges? Pretty much all of them now have it installed and it is less of a luxury and more of a necessity.
Nevertheless, some you have to pay, some not. United Airlines, for example, charges the user or sends you to their provider.
What is interesting is how many airports have free wi-fi in all concourses, meaning you donâ€™t have to be a club member to get it.
But if you are out of luck, here is a little trick. In Europe, if you visit a country for more than four days a year, splash out on a pay-as-you-go 3G stick [UK prices as a guide]
This has been a life saver on more than one occasion. They are not expensive and enable you to get online even while sitting on the plane.
So, finally, what about the best airport lounges?
Here is my definition:
- Somewhere quiet
- Lots of room
- Not too many people
- Decent bar â€“ self-service is better and reasonably healthy snacks
- Good workspace is essential, including desks with POWER
So my all time favorite? The JAL Sakura lounge at Narita – it has a massage, showers, great service and is unobtrusive, power everywhere and free wi-fi. The food is pretty good, too.