The glamour of business travel?

©Alan Light, Flickr Creative Commons

As airline travel becomes increasingly an ordeal for the average flier, many travelers cast envious eyes towards those lucky enough to be in business class.

For many business travelers, it’s not just front-cabin airline travel, but taxis and limos instead of public transit, expense account meals and nice hotels. What’s not to like?

While money and perks can take some of the stress out of travel, they aren’t a complete shield. Here, admittedly under the subtitle “First World Problems,” is a story that may make anyone who doesn’t travel for business a little happier.

The client in question had a five-day trip to Europe planned with four stops, all requiring flights. Tiring, yes; but theoretically with nice hotels and mostly business class flights, at least comfortable.

The only “hiccup” for the first few days was an aborted landing due to windshear in Zurich. It was scary, but the plane landed safely with no incident on the second go-around.

Then the traveler had a last-minute meeting scheduled in London at the end of the week, so we added a flight back from Geneva to London on the way back to D.C. That added about $1,000 to the fare.

But on the afternoon he was then supposed to fly to London, his freshly scheduled meeting was canceled. Changing the ticket again would have been ridiculously expensive. So, he went ahead with the stopover. Arriving in London about dinner time, he got on the Heathrow Express train into downtown, only to find out that a fatality on the tracks had stopped trains indefinitely.

So he got off the train, and got a taxi to the Arch Hotel, which is a nice four-star small hotel in London. He finally arrived mid-evening after the delay to discover a block-wide power outage. The helpful staff was making the best of things, but they had to take him to his room by flashlight.

In this era of electronic keys, a hotel staff member had to accompany him to and from his room each time, because the power didn’t come on until the morning.

At this point, he was just ready to head home, especially for a stopover that was serving no business purpose. The flight showed on time when he left for the airport. This time, the Heathrow Express was working. Then, the airline mechanical delays started. He waited an hour, then an hour and a half. An “update” came after an hour and a half. (Translation, did they think the plane was going to go or not?)

In the end, United decided they could fix the plane, and it was rescheduled to leave at 7 p.m. The aircraft pushed back from the gate at 7:30 p.m., only a little more than 3 hours late.

Could this trip have been worse? Of course, much worse. And, of course, it is more comfortable to be delayed with business class flights and nice places to stay. But glamorous and fun? Not always.

Photo: ©Alan Light, Flickr Creative Commons