Ramblings of a (business) traveller

I’ve been on the road (or in the air) for the past few weeks, starting with super-secret “hysteria session”, New York for Contact Conference, seeing Sleep No More (if you are in NYC until the end of the year, go!)  and hanging out with Yarushka, Ika, Amitai and Sagasta.

Coming back through Prague and a short stay home (yes, I still have to work!), I gave a talk about Bitcoin in Kosice, had few beers with local hackers and I flew out to Amsterdam. Meeting Sn0wcrash (see sn0wcrash.net if you don’t know him) and Marlous. Adrenaline biking, Indonesian cuisine and a ”Running Lean workshop” in Uttrecht (amazing, thanks Ash). And missing my plane (fire in the tunnel).

Now in the plane to London for Alfresco Developer conference (and meeting Kybu and Adriana). Later on going to Wroclaw for Wroclaw industrial festival and going home.

I am also planning visiting Prague, where I want to attend Bitcoin conference and play my super-DYI lo-fi  audiovideo set in Karkulka.

I would like to share some experiences with travelling. I travelled business class, economy, Ryanair (feels like to hours of reading my Spam folder), using train (first and second class) and had few travel obstacles. I delivered (with help of several people) a “Travel hacking workshop” in Progressbar, which was full of tips and tricks for travellers. Here are my favorite:

Noise cancelling headphones. Better than business class. Mine are Sennheiser PXC-310, but go out to shops and listen (particulary Bose apparently have much better noise cancelling abiliy). They sit on head and ears very comfortably (unlike my old Koss Porta Pro). And noise cancelling works well, the music can be more quiet.

Ebook reader (I have iPad which in combination with Evernote is also good for keeping all the travel info together and writing out e-mail, reading Twitter and articles I don’t otherwise have time to read - using Instapaper). Very handy, those paper books get too heavy and I almost always read more than 5 books - depending on my mood and preferences. Paper books limit my choice and get too heavy, I actually prefer ebook all the time. One magazine for take-off and landing … and a bath in hotel room is enough paper :)

Lounge access. Comes by default with business-class, but so far I have only flew business class when using Frequent Flyer miles (more on that later). If you don’t fly business class, you can use Priority Pass (came with my American Express) or Diner’s Club cards. Usually quiet, snacks and drinks (even alcohol, but these days I don’t like to drink at all, makes me too sleepy). Free wifi, power outlets, clean toilets and sometimes showers.

When I flew from Amsterdam, I missed my plane (fire in the train tunnel on my way to the airport), so I had to book new ticket. Last-minute ticket was too expensive, but they had award for miles, only in business class. I was alone there. I think that at least for these emergencies, it’s good to have some FF miles, I would not like to pay €500 for that flight (heck, that’s a price for a flight to New York!)

For those that haven’t flown business, the main advantages are: lounge access, fast track through security (shorter queue), more legroom, much better food and choice of drinks (if you ask for tea, the next question is “what kind of tea would you like?”). Higher baggage allowance, more earned miles, priority baggage disposal are also nice, but not “must have” for me. On short flights, I would not use business unless I have to or am upgraded for free. On long flights, it’s actually quite nice, Air France has almost flat beds in intercontinental business for example. You get out of the plane not completely trashed.

Which FF programme to use? I had used Miles and More (and right now I am on MM earning Lufthansa flight), but for next year I am thinking on moving to CSA and SkyTeam. They have new flights from Bratislava to Amstedam (KLM hub airport) and Paris (AirFrance hub) among others. For 17 segments (two of them intercontinental) on Star Alliance (Miles and More) I have earned  8000 miles. Compare that with 50000 miles on CSA for two intercontinental flights (also in economy). It is also easier to get status there (MM wants 30 flight segments for Silver, which does not even mean too much), CSA gives silver for 15 segments and then you at least earn more flights. On Lufthansa, upgrades are pretty limited (you get 6 upgrade vouchers a year. I have a friend, who is upgraded for free on every CSA flight, that is like 60 a year).

Lufthansa and Austrian have good prices and good availability from Vienna, so I am not stopping using them at all. Actually, in Munich I found out that there is no Priority Pass lounge in Terminal 2, so I grabbed free tea for Lufthansa passengers for my way to the connecting flight’s gate (nice) and had an automated back massage (not as good as fellow Thai ladies, not as bad as I expected either).

I have learnt a lot and more to come. Off to next adventure!

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Written by Juraj Bednár //