How to Enjoy Business Travel - United Hub

How to enjoy business travel

By Nick Harper , March 23, 2017

At times, traveling the States or the wider world can be a challenge. Getting from A to B can often involve standing in line for longer than you'd ideally want. It can involve trying to find space amongst the crowds. And it can involve jetting off to far-flung cities that sound glamorous in theory, were it not for the fact that you are there to work and not play. But these are merely challenges along the way, and the savvy traveler can ensure that every step of his or her journey is enjoyable – even fun. The following 9 steps could make a big difference.

1. Enjoy the airport

While it's true that airports can be busy, it's never been easier to find your own private space within them. Aside from boasting amenities including world-class shopping, restaurants, bars and spas, business facilities also make it easy to hit deadlines in relative peace and quiet.

To maximize your enjoyment, arrive in plenty of time, stroll the facilities at your leisure and visit your airline's lounge to unwind before your flight. Once inside, you may never want to leave.

2. Cut the lines

Nobody likes standing in line, particularly when traveling, but there are programs designed to make the whole process quicker, easier and less stressful. TSA Pre® and Global Entry are two such options designed to get you through the long lines without the wait. TSA is designed for domestic flights and Global Entry for international flights. Both have a fee and involve a small vetting procedure but are worth the effort.

You may also want to consider CLEAR, another program designed to get you through the screening process by using a fingerprint rather than a license or passport. It too has a fee associated with it and isn't as commonly used as TSA Pre and Global Entry, but it's well worth considering.

And of course, it's a good idea to try to get by with carry-on baggage if you can. Avoid checking baggage and you'll exit the airport more quickly upon arrival.

3. Make time

Even though you're away on business rather than vacation, it still sometimes pays to take the less-is-more approach. Nobody benefits if your business trips push you to the brink of exhaustion. It's far more beneficial to thin out your schedule and allow yourself time to prepare and recharge effectively between meetings.

With that in mind, if your boss is open to the idea, arrive a day earlier to allow yourself time to get settled, especially if you're crossing time zones. Also remind your boss that studies have found that “a disruption to the circadian rhythm you get through jet lag… has long-lasting effects when it builds over time." And long-lasting effects are never good.

4. Relax

Unless you're battling crazy deadlines, schedules or workloads, aim to relax as much as possible on your journey – or at least on the flight itself. Put away your smartphone and laptop and disconnect from your work for the duration of your journey. Recline the seat, watch an inflight movie, read a book and take the time to recharge so that you arrive refreshed and ready to hit the ground running.

5. Make more time

If at all possible, try to factor in some time away from your work to see the sights around you. This is particularly important if you've flown halfway around the world: if you're traveling the world, make time to actually see it, experience it and taste it. If you have time between meetings, explore. Once the day is over, head out to eat in the city, rather than just ordering room service and staring at the hotel's walls.

Try to appreciate where you are, or risk every place just blurring into one. And if you have the option, particularly in a long-haul location you may not plan on returning to, consider adding on a day or two at the end of your trip to see the place as a tourist, not as a businessman or woman. Try to make your business trip an experience you'll remember years down the line. Why? Because to not see the Rocky steps in Philly, the Trevi Fountain in Rome or the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin would be a missed opportunity you may one day regret.

6. Live like a local

If you do have time to explore the city, use a local guide to make sure you don't just wander aimlessly and miss all the essential sites and experiences. As before, scheduling some down time to see the outside world will help you experience more, recharge your batteries between meetings and avoid burning out. But a word of warning: if you are likely to be wandering the city, pack appropriately – footwear you can walk in should be high on your list of priorities.

7. Stay fit and healthy

It's easy to live a less healthy life when you're flying around on business, it's been found that business travelers are more likely to get sick than 'regular' travelers. Pack your exercise gear and use the hotel gym facilities or explore the area on foot. Studies link regular exercise to a variety of cognitive benefits, including improved concentration, sharper memory, prolonged mental stamina, enhanced creativity and lower stress.

What you eat also impacts on how you perform. Fast food and extended periods of inertia can become the norm – and over time make you feel sluggish. The solution is simple: try to plan ahead as much as possible, long before you actually get hungry, and stick to what you generally eat. Grabbing something – anything – quickly when hunger strikes usually leads to bad quick-fix food decisions, and risking a new exotic diet in a foreign land right before an important presentation could have terrible repercussions.

8. Call home regularly

The lifestyle of a regular business traveler may be glamorous in parts, but it can get lonely if you're away from a wife or husband and kids. This was a more acute problem back before they invented FaceTime and Skype. And while staring down the screen at your loved ones many miles away isn't quite the same as a hug, it's the next best thing, so use the tech we have to stay in regular touch. Because while it's a generalization to say that a happier traveler performs more effectively, it's also usually true.

9. Upgrade your experience

One of the great benefits of flying regularly is that the more you fly, the better the rewards. Flying regularly on United Airlines helps you achieve Premier status, which gives you bonus award miles, upgrade opportunities, priority travel services, fee waivers, discounts and much more. Take advantage and the more you fly, the more comfortable your whole journey becomes.

United Airlines now offers the new United PolarisSM business class option. Offering a new United Polaris lounge, personalized dining and bar service, relaxation areas and rest pods, plus world-class comfort onboard, every element of United Polaris is designed to maximize your enjoyment of business travel. Click here to find out more.

Steps toward the sky

By Rachel Landgraf , February 18, 2020

Carole Cary-Hopson, Newark Liberty International Airport Boeing 737 First Officer, remembers how it felt piloting her first United flight.

"Shivers" she recalled. "I felt as if this is what dreams are made of. Every single time I come to work, I feel that way."

"That way" was 14 years in the making for Carole. "What dreams are made of" dates back to her childhood in Pennsylvania and frequently visiting her grandma's home in south Jersey that was right by the Philadelphia airport.

Pictured: Carole Cary-Hopson

"We would go and lie in the grass by the airport and note the colors of the planes coming in and leaving, how many would come through at a time; we made graphs," said Carole. "I was fascinated by it."

As Carole grew up, she held on to that fascination, but an undergrad and master's degree later, she found herself successfully climbing her way up the corporate ladder, from the NFL to Footlocker. As her duties and roles continued to evolve and grow, Carole observed that she was always on an airplane. In fact, it was on a work trip where that observation and her life-long fascination came full circle.

"I was on a KLM flight and the pilot noticed me looking around and observing everything," she said. "So, he offered me the jumpseat and proceeded to teach me everything across the North Atlantic trip. It was then and there I realized, 'I can do this.' It all came together in my head."

Not long after that flight, Carole went on a date with a man who she now proudly calls her husband.

"I told him on that date, 'I have something to tell you and if you laugh at me about it, I'll never see you again,'" said Carole. Carole proceeded to tell him about her dream of becoming a pilot. A few weeks after that date, he handed her gift certificates to attend a flight school right outside of Manhattan.

From there, Carole moved roles in her corporate career once more, taking a job with L'Oreal where she socked away her paychecks to save up for flight school. In the meantime, she began to network in the aviation world, attending events through Women in Aviation and the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP). It was there she met her mentors, one being American Airlines Captain Jenny Beatty who handed her a mug of Bessie Coleman, the first woman of African-American and Native-American descent to hold a pilot's license.

"I stood on that crowded convention floor with Jenny and Bessie at that time and just bawled," said Carole. "I kept asking myself how I could be an Ivy League graduate and had never heard of her. At that moment, I wanted to do something with her story."

Thus, along with training, becoming a pilot and raising a family, Carole began writing a historical fiction book on Bessie, a woman who had to go to France to learn how to fly because no one would teach her in the U.S. Today, the book is near completion and once finished, 25% of the proceeds will go toward the Lt. Colonel Luke Weathers Flight Academy, an organization within OBAP that aims to grow and diversify the future pilot pipeline.

Carole pictured with a group of young women

"I hope Bessie is smiling down and has forgiven me for taking so long on writing this book," said Carole. "She continues to provide me with guidance and being an example of determination. I know she would tell me to keep going and to not even dare to stop."

Well, as if Bessie already doesn't know, stopping doesn't seem to be in Carole's vocabulary.

"When you have a goal, there are a series of definitive steps," said Carole. "Each one is important and sometimes, they take many years to reach. But each one of those goals I had in the past were steps that got me to flying."

And Carole's next step?

"Continue to fly and finish Bessie's book," said Carole. "And once the book is finished, the goal is a movie and then sending 100 black women to flight school. With the numbers being only 1-2% African-American's flying, we need to fix that, and I intend to!"

Finding our heart in Peru

By Kelsey + Courtney Montague , February 14, 2020

Sisters and United MileagePlus® Premier® 1k members, Kelsey and Courtney Montague, are constantly traveling to create street art pieces for communities around the world. This year they teamed up with us to travel to Peru to explore the beautiful country, and to create a custom mural for a very special group of young women participating in the Peruvian Hearts program. Peruvian Hearts, now part of our Miles on a Mission program, works to support female leaders with access to education, counseling and peer support

Finding tranquility at Machu Picchu

As we hiked up the ancient steps of Machu Picchu, we were surrounded by Incan merchants, servants and townsfolk climbing the stairs to start their day. As foreigners not used to hiking at 7,9000 feet, the locals sprinted by us as we struggled up the steep steps, with the lush rainforest behind us and ancient city just beyond. But even with burning legs and straining lungs, it's likely anyone's breath would be taken away (as ours was) once they reached the clearing above this sprawling city in the clouds. All thoughts of the slightly tortuous route we took to this dazzling ancient city were forgotten the second we laid eyes on this UNESCO World Heritage site.

Along with my sister Kelsey, our Dad and our friend Clay felt the power and mystery when we all arrived at the vantage point over the city of Machu Picchu. The day before we had traveled all day from Denver flying in United's stunning United Polaris®. We slept fully flat on two excellent flights, curled up on down pillows and wrapped in Saks Fifth Avenue comforters. We slept soundly after feasting on steak and chocolate sundaes and spent a layover chatting with bartender, Steven, as he made us cosmos at the United Polaris lounge in Houston. It was wonderful, but the best part? Arriving in Peru so rested and relaxed we were able to completely savor this moment at Machu Picchu. A moment only made sweeter when our Dad turned to us and thanked us for taking him on the trip of a lifetime and giving him the opportunity to see a place he never thought he'd get to visit.

We explore the ruins with the wide eyes of children, enjoying every view and savoring every piece of information from our guide. Llamas 'own' the ruins and gently nudge tourists aside as they scamper between buildings to their favorite pasture. The terraces on the outskirts of the town were used to prevent soil erosion and to farm maize and beans. Condors soar above our heads, their keen eyes hunting for chinchillas tucked into the terrace rock walls.

Incan community members that lived or worked in Machu Picchu must have felt the same way we felt the first time they came across this thriving metropolis, situated on top of a mountain. Incan urban planners neatly organized centers for astrological studies, religious ceremonies, sports, commerce and farming. The buildings were built from granite and limestone, likely from a quarry located on the same mountaintop. Some buildings were so finely constructed scientists still don't quite know how the Incans did it.

At the end of the tour we come to the sacred rock — a perfect, flat replica of the Yanantin mountain behind it. Some mystical members of society believe that touching the rock transmits tremendous power. I won't lie that I quietly let my fingers graze the stone as a I walked by. Did I feel a sudden power rush? No. But did I leave Machu Picchu filled with a sense of wonder and a reaffirmed belief that anything is possible? Yes.

Partnering with Peruvian Hearts

The next morning, we awoke ready to tackle the most meaningful part of our trip to Peru — working with Peruvian Hearts.

Peruvian Hearts works to support women by giving them access to education, counseling and peer support. They are currently working with 32 talented, bright young women who they have hand-picked from secondary institutions across Cusco. They focus on supporting brilliant engineers, psychologists, teachers, scientists and doctors. These are the future female leaders that will change their communities, their country and the world for the better.

When we arrive to meet these scholars, they cheer, and each young woman gives Kelsey and me a hug. Overwhelmed, we both begin to cry. We are so grateful for our job as a traveling street art team, but we are on the road so much we are often very lonely. We can't remember the last time we received so many hugs or saw so many bright smiles.

When we arrive to the Peruvian Hearts headquarters a number of the young women tell us how they found Peruvian Hearts. Aldi, a brilliant engineer in training, was asked to join this special organization because she was first in her class in secondary school. She grew up in tough financial circumstances — her mother is ill and unable to work, and her father works in construction. As the only person in her family who has attended university, she is the primary hope of her family. Tears stream down her face as she describes how tough it has been for her family to survive. So many of these young women tell similar stories and carry the weight of their entire family's future squarely and proudly on their shoulders.

These stories reaffirm the reason Kelsey and I decided to join forces with United — we hope to make that weight on their shoulders a little lighter. As we worked on the mock-up for the mural to commemorate Peruvian Hearts, United decided to help in another way by including Peruvian Hearts in their new Miles on a Mission program. A first of its kind program, United MileagePlus members can now donate their miles to nonprofits they care about. Miles that will help young women like Aldi attend conferences in the United States or study abroad in Mexico.

Other women will be able to travel more freely between their studies in Lima and their families in Cusco. The young scholars were so excited to now be part of the United family and to have access to the connections a major airline can bring.

After an ideation period Kelsey decided to create a large-scale heart flock mural with 32 hearts on one side to represent the young women in the program and 32 hearts on the other side to represent those to come. Over two days we painted the piece and filled it with items that represent Peru (a llama, a condor, Peru's national flower and butterflies), Peruvian Hearts (pencils, books, and a shooting star) and a United airplane. As we worked on the piece the ladies sang, danced and told us their dreams. Dreams to travel, learn new languages, start meaningful careers and change their communities for the better.

When we finished the piece — two massive streams of hearts that appear to be coming from the person standing in the middle of the mural — the girls came to thank us. With cheers, hugs and kisses they explained how proud they were that this mural was for them and how it would continue to lift them up as they work hard to improve their circumstances.

At the end of this project Kelsey and I felt so blessed to be connected to such a wonderful group of women. At that moment we realized that is what art and travel should be about. Art and travel should connect us to each other as humans and to something deeper within ourselves — a desire to lift each other up.

Visit United's Miles on a Mission program to support Peruvian Hearts .

We suspend travel to China and Hong Kong

By The Hub team

February 12, 2020

As we continue to evaluate our operation between our U.S. airport hub locations and Beijing, Chengdu, and Shanghai as well as Hong Kong, we have decided to extend the suspension of those flights until April 24. We will continue to monitor the situation and will evaluate our schedule as we remain in close contact with the CDC and other public health experts around the globe.

We suspend travel to Hong Kong

February 4, 2020

In response to the continued drop in demand, we are suspending travel to Hong Kong beginning February 8 until February 20. Our last flights will depart San Francisco on February 5 (flight 877 and flight 869) and the last returning flight will depart Hong Kong on February 7 (flight 862).

Please check united.com for important travel information as well as current travel waivers.

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