Advice from a business traveler: Managing the stress of connecting flights3 min read
On my left there is a rather large business man yelling in Dutch on his Blackberry and beginning to perspire. To my right, sits a lady looking slightly claustrophobic. We have been sitting on the tarmac for almost two hours in Charles de Gaulle International Airport (CDG), just outside Paris, France, waiting to disembark. Unfortunately, CGD is so massive that there are not nearly enough gates for the amount of traffic they see each day. So unless you are on an Air France flight (Air France gets preference) you can expect a long wait when landing there. As I sit watching other planes heading towards the runway, I realize that one of them is undoubtedly my connecting flight home to Boston. Oh yeah, did I mention it is my birthday?
Years ago, I was traveling between Lucerne, Switzerland and Boston, MA quite often for work. We were required to book our own flights, sometimes with two connections. Catching a connecting flight is like walking into a casino. It is always a crapshoot, and the house usually wins. Finding ways to control the stress of dealing with situations outside of your control will help you enjoy a more successful business trip and a more relaxing stay at home. Here are some tips to ease the frustration of connecting flights and cool your jets (pun intended).
Always allow at least two hours between connections. Your first reaction may be to complain about sitting around the Frankfurt, Germany airport for couple of hours with nothing to do. Now think about missing your connection in Frankfurt and having six hours to visit the airport’s main attraction: the restrooms.
- Use the internet to find a map of an unfamiliar connecting airport. A day or two before your flight, access the terminal floor plans to chart the shortest route between connections to save time. It will also ease the anxiety caused by navigating through a maze of signs, escalators and language barriers. Of course, you will need to know your arrival and departure gates, but bring the chart with you just in case there are last minute changes.
- If possible, avoid airports that have a bad reputation:
- United States: ORD (Chicago), JFK (New York City), LAX (Los Angeles), SFO (San Francisco), IAD (Washington DC), ATL (Atlanta), PHL (Philadelphia), BOS (Boston), LGA (New York City)
- Europe: FRA (Frankfurt, Germany) , CDG (Paris, France) , LHR (London, England), FCO (near Rome, Italy), ATH (Athens, Greece)
This above list is compiled mainly from personal experiences. (If you want some other informed opinions, look at Travel and Leisure, Yahoo, Flightline and even Wikipedia.) The above airports are both old and inefficient or under constant construction. Airports are always updating their facilities but rarely improving services.
Do you have any advice you’d like to share?