How to optimize business travel

Despite the widespread adoption of virtual meetings, business trips are back in full force. That being said, things are not as they were: we are now navigating a world in full transformation due to new economic realities and labour shortages in fields such as airport services, car rental and the hotel industry. Here is how to plan for stress-free travel.

First, ask yourself: what kind of traveller am I?

There are frequent business flyers who care primarily about efficiency. Their goal is to make short, efficient trips that get them in and out of airports as quickly as possible. They almost never check their baggage, they do not hesitate to pay extra for a seat near the exits, and often choose airports near their destinations. Their status with their airline of choice allows them to take advantage of lounges where they can work uninterrupted and eat self-serve food without wasting a minute.

There are also travellers that prioritize their comfort and peace of mind and prefer advantages such as comfort seats (in Business Class or Premium Economy cabins), priority boarding and deplaning as well as Lounge Access and concierge services. These travellers are often looking for a status that provides access to recognition and advantages and are generally loyal to a single airline. 

An increasing number of travellers have mastered the art of loyalty program management. Thanks to careful choices of credit cards affiliated to airline programs with welcome bonuses, points, and rewards, they reap benefits in the form of free flights, upgrades and lounge access. They are proactive and subscribe to newsletters, apps and notifications to stay informed at all times.

Does this sound like you? Let’s move on to the strategies that will help provide a seamless business trip every time.


1 Purchase a Flight Pass

Travellers who regularly fly to the same destination or geographic area have good reason to purchase a Flight Pass which lets them buy several airfares ahead of time, at a fixed, advantageous price. It is helpful for managing business trip budgets and to avoid unpleasant surprises upon last-minute reservations when prices are often high. Based on the chosen category of Flight Pass, some holders will get additional benefits such as upgrades and no-fee booking changes.

2 Go for business class, especially for night or long-haul flights

It is more expensive, but the passenger experience, both on the ground and in flight is simply incomparable from start to finish. The experience is tailor-made for business travellers: priority lounge access, security checkpoint, boarding, deplaning and luggage checks, as well as dedicated cabins with reclining comfort seats and gourmet dining. During night flights, passengers can get their beauty sleep and arrive at their destinations rested and ready to work, which makes trips more effective and more pleasant. If your budget is tighter, you can take a one-way flight in business class, such as for a night flight to Europe, and take the flight back in Economy Class. Many loyalty programs let you exchange points for a last-minute upgrade a few days or hours before the flight.

3 Choose the right seat

In business class, aisle or window seats are guaranteed, as are larger seats and extra space. But that is not always the case in economy class. Of course, you can pre-select your seat during booking to avoid a middle seat, but you can also check out the configuration of aircrafts on apps or websites like Seat Guru, where you can see the locations of available seats on a given flight before booking. Good to know: some airlines offer Premium Economy seats or cabins that provide passengers with an enhanced experience. They can enjoy a little more space and comfort along with priority airport services.

4 Favour direct flights

A three-hour stopover might seem perfectly reasonable when booking a flight, but that does not consider all the issues that can arise from the additional deplaning and boarding, the occasional additional security check, and the risk of missing a connection if your initial flight is delayed. During stopovers, travellers with a Business Class ticket or eligible credit cards can turn a few hours of waiting into a relaxing moment by spending time in a lounge where they can kick back, work or eat.

5 Consider smaller airports

When the flight allows, choosing a small or local airport over an international one can save travellers time as they are often less crowded and sometimes closer to urban centres. A great example of this is Billy Bishop airport in Toronto, located right in the city centre where you can make your way downtown meeting in a matter of minutes.

6 Take the first flight in the morning

There are a few reasons to book a flight before 9 a.m.: it usually means less traffic, less crowded airports, shorter waits at security. But according to an Expedia report, the greatest benefit for early birds, especially those with a connection, is much lower risk of delays or cancellations. Additionally, according to Forbes, planes spend less time on the tarmac in the morning, because air traffic is lighter, and the preceding flights have long since landed. You do have to get up at the crack of dawn, especially for international destinations, but you can catch up on your sleep on board.

It is helpful for managing business trip budgets and to avoid unpleasant surprises upon last-minute reservations when prices are often high. Based on the chosen category of Flight Pass, some holders will get additional benefits such as upgrades and no-fee booking changes.

7 Opt for carry on baggage

Frequent flyers know that travelling light is key to freedom. Limiting baggage to a carry-on saves precious time at check-in and upon deplaning. Peace of mind comes at the low price of planning a minimal wardrobe (dark business suit in light fabric, shirts, light sweater, dark jeans if the dress code allows and two pairs of shoes, one of which you can wear in the plane). Travelling light does not just pay off at the airport, it will make taxi rides, the trip to the rental car or public transit a little easier.

If you must check your baggage, you could try including AirTags. You can add them to your suitcases (but also backpacks, purses, keys, or wallet), and connect to the Find My app via Bluetooth on Apple devices. The tags are secure and can give you peace of mind by pinging your belongings in a London taxi, or a conference room in Hong Kong, an Atlanta airport or in the hotel room you just left.

8 Download your airline’s app

It is a bit like having a travel agent in your pocket. Once you log on with your frequent flyer account, most apps will allow you to book flights, choose seats, look up your electronic boarding pass, and receive notifications of any updates made to your trip. You can even check the status of your next connecting flight before deplaning. For live updates, we strongly recommend that you activate notifications.

9 Get credit cards that provide benefits for travellers

Generous welcome bonuses for new holders, point rewards on purchases that can be converted to flight segments, hotel room or car rentals, benefits like Lounge Access or enhanced insurance on vehicles, theft or baggage: the list goes on! Of course, the most advantageous cards tend to have the highest annual fees, but for frequent flyers the return on investment is well worth it. As for loyalty programs connected to credit cards, they let you maximize both your points and benefits. Keep an eye out for point transfer programs, they let you combine the points you accumulated between credit cards and various other loyalty cards.

10 Favour a single hotel chain

Loyalty programs offered by major hotel chains reward their holders in many ways: free stays, upgrades, or access to floors with additional services. This helps business travellers afford more pleasant stays or even take advantage of these programs to take vacations with their loved ones. You can pay your hotel bills with a traveller’s credit card associated to one or more airlines, maximizing your points. Travellers that go to the same destinations often stand to gain from staying at the same hotel. As regulars, they benefit from a warm welcome, a particularly caring service and even the occasional surprise upgrade.

11 Make car and restaurant reservations early

For the best price on car rentals, we recommend reserving as soon as possible on a site that allows no-fee cancellations, letting you change model or rental services if you find a better price. Popular restaurants often see their bookings fill up fast. It is better to reserve a table for a business dinner before leaving rather than walk up to a full house.

12 Take time into account

Combining several destinations by hopping from one to the next with multi destination tickets is more time and cost effective than a series of round trips. Additionally, when a trip involves crossing several time zones, we recommend taking a day to yourself on arrival to rest, get some fresh air by taking a walk or running and getting acquainted with your surroundings. Sunlight is the best cure for jet lag. There is nothing like it to rev yourself up for meeting new partners or giving a presentation for colleagues. After all, you have earned it!


Air Canada offers products and services for all kinds of travellers.  Proud to go where business takes you.

Written by Le Devoir