Business Advice

Business travel tips: Eight types of fellow-traveller to avoid at all costs

Ian Whitworth /

disruption old business quiz

Scene Change co-founder and Motivation for Sceptics blogger Ian Whitworth. Source: Supplied.

Every business traveller has that moment when you think: ‘Maybe I’m flying too much.

On my final business flight last year, the flight attendant offered me their standard inflight snack: a Carman’s miniature muesli bar. They’re about 5cm long.

I opened my airline app and did some calculations. Turns out, over a year, I had eaten 3.7 metres of muesli bars. Since then, I’ve never touched another, because now I just see myself munching my way along a single muesli bar the length of a Toyota Yaris. I still have nightmares about that thing.

People who do a lot of business travel sure like to complain about it: Oh my god, I am so happy to be back in my own bed!

I like my own bed, but hotel beds are also great. Try summoning a club sandwich on a trolley from your own bedroom. Wake up and smell the bacon, business travellers, you should be ecstatic you’re going somewhere instead of being stuck behind a sales counter in the same spot every day of your working life.

All the visions of after-life paradise you’ve heard from religions are nothing compared to that time of your life when you have small children, and you go away for a few nights’ business tripping and sleep on your own, right through the night in a plush hotel bed with just you in it. Praise be to the expense-approval gods!

Despite these luxuries, there are people who bring it down for everyone.

Flights compress a lot of people into a tight space, both in the airport and onboard. It’s a good way of sorting out who is a well-brought-up human, aware they are not the only person in the universe, and people who are the exact opposite, who should be forced to travel in separate planes policed by American-style airport paramilitary.

Here are some specific offenders.

1. Aisle backpackers

They get on the plane with hand luggage plus a fat backpack. Like an upright Galapagos Tortoise, they have no sense of the airspace they occupy.

They bumble down the aisle looking left and right, and with each swing, they wallop the aisle passengers with their pack.

2. Escalator stoppers

My regular airport terminal carries 50,000 passengers a day. After security scans, all those passengers go down a single escalator. At the bottom, travelling groups take a single step, spread out their luggage like a picnic, and hold a five-minute trip-planning conference, oblivious to the Hoover Dam-size human blockage on the escalator behind.

3. Ocean’s 11

Groups that walk through a crowded terminal in one side-by-side formation, like they’re in an ensemble-cast movie poster. Flight crews are bad offenders, I think because they saw it in their own TV ads. It’s a stick through the spokes for the rest of the travelling public.

4. Diagonal-line walkers

An enormous number of people can do the crowded walk to the gates if they all go with the flow, by moving in a straight line like a normal person. But it just takes one diagonal walker, usually a 2003-esque man closing a deal via his Bluetooth earpiece, to throw the whole system into clunky, half-step chaos.

5. Lounge skypers

I have seen, more than once, men (it is always men) using a laptop to Skype in the middle of an airport lounge without headphones. With the laptop on a table a metre away while they chomp through a pile of snacks, talking at conference-presenter volume. It’s the audio version of that other transportation fave: manspreading.

Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, hurry up and colonise Mars so we can build prisons there for these guys.

6. Domestic-flight seat recliners

This is a topic already covered in forensic detail by aviation vigilante Michael Pascoe, who is very tall.

Would you put your carry-on bag on someone else’s lap? Bad question. If you’re the kind of scum who reclines domestic seats, you’d be perfectly okay pinning down someone you don’t even know for three hours because your own selfish comfort is the most important thing in the world.

7. The screaming-baby situation

Ah, you’re thinking, those damn screaming babies that ruin your nice flight. No, I’m talking about people who roll their eyes and whine about those babies, because a busy business person like them should not be inconvenienced.

Really, do you think that poor stressed-out parent should have educated that baby to behave better? Do you think they get on planes with a baby as some selfish hobby? Don’t be such a stuck-up dick.

Babies are just one of those uncontrollable factors that go with flying, like turbulence. Put some headphones on and deal with it.

8. Mr sleeveless

Avoid doing business in coastal resort cities, because you will have to share the plane with the guy in the tank top. Ah, that moment when he stops near your row  oh my god, he’s in the seat next to you!  and raises his carry-on stuff to the overhead locker, giving you front-row tickets to the hairy armpit show.

Guys with this level of self-awareness will always take up both armrests, so as a bonus, you get bare flesh pressed against you for the whole ride. The probability that he will also order rum-based beverages on the 9am flight is high.

The upside of air travel

These pests aside, the upside of flying all the time is free business education.

You learn a lot. I’m interested in business things, so I always get an aisle seat, where you can read other people’s laptops. It is amazing what you can pick up from people finessing their PowerPoint on the way to the meeting. I’m sure central bankers sit on planes on the way to policy summits with laptops showing, in 48-point type:

 

To do

  • Put travel exps receipts in
  • Call Soros back
  • Get wedding anniversary card
  • Leave interest rates on hold

 

Overheard lounge conversations are also great for keeping up with the latest business jargon. Like the guy I heard say recently: “We’ve each been tasked with several tasks.”

Here’s a task buddy, call a priest to administer the last rites on the English language.

Finally, remember it’s a privilege to fly domestic in Australia. Our planes are so new and clean. The flight crews are so lovely. To the point where these petty whinges seem like a big deal. Then you travel around the US, an airline system designed to crush the human spirit on every level, and think I can deal with a few backpacks’.

This article was first published on Motivation for Sceptics. Read the original article.

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Ian Whitworth

Ian Whitworth is a reformed branding and advertising creative director turned entrepreneur, who co-founded corporate audiovisual company Scene Change.

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