It's Not Just the Streets That are Tough: Air Partner's Guide to Flying in and out of New York City

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While there’s probably no hope for the subway or NJ transit, there may be a glimmer of optimism for air travel. Expert flier, Phil Mathews, president of global aviation company Air Partner offers up his best travel tips for the frequent flier in an attempt to make that weekly (or monthly) long commute tolerable.

These days, traveling, especially for business, is anything but enjoyable. Security lines, unfriendly airline agents, over priced everything, and the unavoidable flight delay are rampant- testing patience and sanity.

Yet airline travel is on the slow and steady rebound. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported a net profit for the industry at $3.9 billion for the second quarter compared to the $881 million net loss posted at the same time last year with North America and Asia-Pacific leading the rebound.

As New Yorkers, most of us are already operating at heightened stress levels. Daily commutes are full of packed trains that sometimes never come, or waiting on a platform with temperatures that rival the Sahara. It would be nice if once and a while we could get a break from constant travel frustrations.

While there’s probably no hope for the subway or NJ transit, there may be a glimmer of optimism for air travel. Expert flier, Phil Mathews, president of global aviation company Air Partner offers up his best travel tips for the frequent flier in an attempt to make that weekly (or monthly) long commute tolerable.

In the course of his job, Phil racks up enough miles to rival George Clooney’s character in “Up in the Air.” With weekly trips up and down the eastern seaboard, and bi-monthly trips to London, Phil flies more than 250,000 miles a year- and with over 20 years in the business, it’s fair to say he’s no stranger to air travel.

First, there are the basic travel tips that will almost always make your travels easier such as:

  •     Pre-print boarding pass prior to arriving at the airport- saves time and stress
  •     If possible- only bring a carry-on bag (one can avoid checked bag fees and the potential of the airline losing your bag)
  •     Leave plenty of time to get to the airport. Better spend time working in the lounge/at the gate than fretting whether or not you will make the flight.
  •     For a faster plane exit- pick seats at the front of the aircraft

Then, there are the less obvious travel tips. New York City airports are some of the busiest in the world, and learning how to navigate them will leave you in a far better position next time you’re traveling to or from the Empire State.

1) Status counts, whether it’s hotels, airlines or hire cars. Pick a company that fits your budget/travel pattern and stick with it. With status comes pre-boarding, lounge access, better seats, upgrades, free wifi, free breakfast, bonus miles/points.

2) Take the earliest flight of the day if possible. The later the flight is, the longer the potential for delay that may build up throughout the day. Also, take direct, non-stop flights whenever possible, the more stops, the greater the potential for delay.

3) Flying out of JFK or any other major hub (ORD, ATL, MSP…)? Avoid departures between 7 and 10pm. These are peak travel times and one can wait up to 2 hours for take off.

4) Arriving on an international flight at JFK, EWR? Avoid arriving between 2pm and 7pm. One will spend two hours in immigration.

5) To avoid jet lag- don’t drink alcohol on long haul flights, get plenty of rest the night before, and don’t forget about melatonin or sleeping pills, (they will help regulate sleeping, but make sure to read the directions carefully!) and If one can take a day flight, do. It takes more of one’s valuable time but one will get it back through lack of jet lag from night flights.

6) Flying into NY before or around 9:00AM? Take the train into the city- or plan on being stuck in heaps of traffic.

7) An increasingly popular option for group travel (5 or more flying business class) is to fly privately. Costs for traveling in the northeast can sometimes be cheaper than the cost of going commercial, and is hands down the most convenient and direct way to fly.

8) For traveling in the northeast corridor, consider the train. It allows for more quiet work time and generally has a more reliable schedule. Not to mention security headaches and advanced arrival.

9) Don’t forget Newark. If staying on the West Side (including Midtown West, or Downtown) flying in and out of Newark can be just as easy as LGA. Not to mention, taking the NJ transit from Penn Station is far cheaper than the $60 cab ride to JFK.

10) To save yourself ten minutes of headache, choose the security line with the most like-minded business travelers. Avoid families, wheel chairs, groups of foreigners, and watch for airline staff and which security line they intend to cut.

Phil Mathews is the president of global air charter company, Air Partner. Phil has worked in the aviation industry for more than 20 years and joined Air Partner in 2002, and was appointed President of the US business in 2003. Air Partner is a world-class provider of aviation services to industry, commerce, governments and individuals worldwide, and is the only company in the aviation industry to hold a Royal Warrant, a globally recognized mark of excellence.

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Arielle Der Hagopian
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