I just completed an amazing summer as a Kalypso Summer Associate. If there is one topic that consistently comes up outside of client work, it’s status. Status as in having accumulated so many points, spent so much money, or flown so many times. You get special treatment and a number of perks when you travel frequently. These perks can equal shorter lines, nicer rooms and maybe even a free drink every now and then.
Alas, as a new consultant, about the only status I have is Starbucks Gold Level. More free coffee is great, but it doesn’t get me through airport security any faster than the mom, dad and kids out on their first family vacation.
So I had to get creative. Many of these are probably obvious, but I wanted to share a few things that helped me travel efficiently - even at the bottom of the totem pole.
Tips and Tricks for New Consultants with Little or No Status:
- Enroll yourself immediately in every program you hope to gain status in - i.e. airlines, rental car companies, hotels, credit cards, etc. And once you have settled on your favorite in each category, try to stick with it as much as possible—earning points is a lot harder if you don’t commit.
- Apply for TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry. As in, if you have not yet done so, put it at the top of your weekend to-do list. Appointments can be booked out for a month or more - so the sooner, the better. The application takes a little time but I promise it will greatly improve your airport security experience.
- If you don’t qualify to go through the pre-check lane, enter security at a point near it. Often, they pull people into the pre-check lane, which has happened to me a number of times.
- Ask a TSA employee who qualifies to go through the express lane at a given airport. It is often not advertised, but certain flights allow you access. For instance, I often fly a Seattle-Portland shuttle, which qualifies me. This little perk has been the only reason I’ve made a couple of my flights.
- Build relationships with hotel employees. Go out of your way to do so. They deserve it and you may receive a few benefits you didn’t know were available.
- Use Uber or Lyft when you can instead of a taxi. I’ve only recently come to this realization, but based on a recent weekend in Chicago, it is often cheaper, easier, and more enjoyable. It beats having to stop at an ATM if the cab doesn’t take cards.
- Create and carry some kind of a travel emergency kit. Fill it with items such as ear plugs, Advil, Vitamin C, and a protein bar. Without status, airline clubs are not accessible, so get in the habit of restocking each time you unpack and re-pack your suitcase. It comes in handy when you get delayed or stuck at the airport for extended periods of time.
- Invest in good, carry-on size luggage. Checking bags takes forever, and a smooth rolling bag makes pulling it through the miles of airport concourses much more bearable. I love a four-wheeled bag because you can push it, too.
- Learn to laugh about your traveling misfortunes. I’ve ripped my pants. I’ve found myself and my suitcase stuck for at least three minutes in a completely packed subway exit gate. I’ve sprinted to my gate only to find the plane delayed and all my fellow passengers staring at me. It’s bound to happen and if nothing else, you have a great story.
- Be nice and appreciative to every employee you encounter who is helping you. It’s just a good practice to be nice to others – know what I mean?