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Pilots Guide

to Travel Etiquette

By: Aubrey Warrick

DISCLAIMER: The information provided below is strictly my opinion and interpretation and does not take place of any regulatory rule. It is at your own discretion, what you do with the knowledge provided. 

Flying professionally in the fast lane of glitz and glam can quickly turn into shuttling clients in dusty oilfields. This is my favorite thing about part 91 flying. You get to see both sides of the coin; stay in all sorts of hotels, drive high-end vehicles then "borrow" the broke down crew car for an overnight in the middle of NO WHERE. I have stayed in JW Marriotts, and Motel 6's. The one constant however, is that even though, as aviators working in the service industry, we also have so many others that work for, and serve us while we do our job. From the FBO personnel to the hotel maids that pick up after you leave, it takes a multitude of people to make the professional traveling world go round. While the decade long comments of "chivalry being dead", I have people-watched while traveling long enough to ask this: Is trip etiquette not a thing anymore?". 

Defining trip etiquette for a professional traveler - Controlling everything about yourself within your personal bubble as well as how you personally and professionally treat those who serve you while traveling.

 

I wish to clean up my professionalism towards others serving me on the road so I thought it would be fun to lay out and implement it into my travel routine. 

Your Personal Bubble

Attire

Your attire is the first key to successful business travel. If your schedule allows, change out of your travel attire when you get to your destination. This will keep your stress level down, make you feel refreshed and help keep you focused on your mission. Pack an extra outfit or suit even if you are only staying for the night. 

Punctuality

Maintaining punctuality is one of the easiest ways to make a good impression on both your crew and clients. (This goes for you too passengers! Don't make your crew wait hours on end because you have poor time management!) Timely or early arrivals show you are attentive and dedicated to the trip and the professional relationship. When you create your travel schedule, allow time so you can get from one point to the next without having to rush.

Personal Technology

Technology is a requirement in every industry. If you are traveling with your cell phone, laptop, or PDA, be aware of how you use it. Your use of technology should never interrupt your task or your current engagement. If you receive an important phone call, excuse yourself and thank people for their patience when you return. Also, be aware of your surroundings when taking the infamous "selfie". Some crew members and passengers may wish for their identities, tail numbers, vehicles, locations... to be private! 

Mind your P's and Q's

Polite and Quiet? Politics and Questions? whatever the phrase means... WATCH YOUR DARN MOUTH! While I tend to have quite the sailor mouth during my downtime with crew members, I do learn to watch my choice of words and phraseology at all other times, this also goes for choice of topic. Many countries throughout the world have complicated politics and difficult histories. If you have a controversial opinion about something like communism, the Holocaust or a country’s president/ruling party, rather keep it to yourself. Or at least be mindful about the fact that the locals might be sensitive about specific topics, especially about politics and religion.

Be Prepared 

Whatever you can do ahead of time, will not only make the trip smoother for you, but show your crew and clients your ability to be useful. Look up directions ahead of time, call ahead to confirm vehicles, carry company cash for appropriate tips, print documents needed to have at the ready etc.

Be a nice Person

In short – be the nicest version of yourself. Keep your crew, clients and service-providers in mind at all times. Your actions have consequences. Hold doors, offer a helping hand, never expect something in return, treat everyone else's money that you're handling like your own, always use manners and SMILE. Even if you do manage to breach an obscure code of conduct, a sincere apology normally does the trick. Go with the flow and learn as you go – it’s as simple as that.

BONUS:

Be a Social Chameleon

If there is one secret weapon in my professional traveling chamber, its being a social chameleon. This means I can blend in with a conversation , adapt to a social setting, and charmingly disarm any skeptical critic in my vicinity. While this may take some practice, its amazing how far a warm smile, clear and articulated speech, manners and a firm handshake will go! 

FBO/Airport Personnel 

The first people you generally encounter on a trip, whether you're in the cockpit or the back, are all of the wonderful airport personnel. These are the guys and gals that act as your personal assistants; arranging your hotels and rental vehicles, fueling your aircraft and helping with luggage. Mindfully asking for help and a simple thank you with these folks really goes a long way. If there is an overly zealous request such as a crazy amount of luggage or a very difficult catering order, it is proper to tip SOMETHING. If the client in the back fails to tip the FBO service after they handled 30 bags of luggage, then the pilot should tip them and bill it back to the client. 

This kind of behavior will go leaps and bounds with FBO and Airport personell. Just remember, how personable you were with them yesterday may be the defining reason as to why your plane is staged in the number one spot or they hook you up with the really nice crew car instead of the junker. 

Transportation 

In the modern day world of Uber and Lyft, these drivers ask a few simple requests:

1. Call them READY! Make sure you are outside waiting on your ride. 

2. be courteous. I am guilty of hopping in, saying hi, and burying my face in my phone. 

3. Ask if your cafe latte is ok to ride in the back with you! Most of these drivers use their own vehicle so

make sure you are polite in asking to have a drink in the vehicle... and take your trash with you!!! 

4. 5 stars is always a very nice way to thank your driver however, if they didn't truly deserve it, then just don't rate them at all.

If there was a very large issue, then a rating won't change THEIR behavior, but a call directly to their company will! 

 

To tip or not to tip? 

Uber and Lyft are known for being a cashless experience. Some drivers welcome cash tips, but it’s completely voluntary. Riders can tip after they’ve rated their driver or ask the driver whether he or she would like to accept a cash tip.

Hotel Staff

While I have stayed in a array of Hotel types, I love Hilton Properties for my weekly/common trips and I appreciate the exotics of Marriott properties for vacations and unique destinations. Where ever you may be staying, from the concierge, to the bellmen and house keeping, these fine people are there to make your chaotic travels a little easier on you. Please and thank you again, go a long way. Being eco-friendly and reusing a towel or two is definitely smiled upon as well as not leaving your room a total pig stye. Yes you have a maid, but she's not your mother. Do a quick sweep before you leave, checking for left behinds, returning trash to the waste baskets, gathering towels into the bathroom and returning the remote to a better area than under the covers (no one wants to go digging through your sweaty sheets).

 

TIPPING

I think the most commonly over looked travel-etiquette happens at hotels. When budgeting for a trip, don’t forget to include gratuities for hotel services. There’s no need to tip a doorman who simply opens the door. However, if the doorman hails a cab, tip $1 to $5, depending on the degree of difficulty. 

When the bellhop arrives at your room with your luggage, pay $2 to $3 per bag.

You don’t need to pay the hotel concierge for answering brief questions, but it’s a good idea to tip $5 to $20 for services such as securing tickets or reservations.

Leave $2 to $5 per day for housekeeping.

Don't forget Valet, $2 to $5 is always appreciated by those guys and gals.

Dining

It is usually a given to dine with your crew or on occasion, be invited out by your client. My rule of thumb is to always dine with crew, and for every two polite declines to a client, I will accept an invitation. This is to keep a strict line of professionalism, on one side separating your social activities on a trip, and on the other, building the professional relationship. 

Do's and Dont's  

  • DO always dress nicely

  • DON'T put your cellphone, keys, or purse on the table 

  • DO let everyone else order first

  • DON'T start eating until everyone has their food

  • DO clearly and politely identify how the meal is going to be compensated for business

  • DO put used utensils, trash and napkins on your plate when you are finished

  • DON'T hog a table for too long after your meal is finished

  • Do tip at least 15% or more to your waitstaff

PRO TIPS FOR TIPPING THE PRO'S

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In honor of my latest CC Aviation Article, "Pilots guide to Travel Etiquette", I felt it was only proper to celebrate My favorite FBO Personell! Previously known as Wildcatter Aviation, now the new and improved Texas Aero of Odessa TX, still has the best of the best working hands in the south. From my sweet linemen taking care of my passengers to Ms. Morgan always greeting me with a smile and everything I could possibly need for my trip, and Ms. Randa Running the whole show! These people absolutely have proper travel etiquette and deserve to be highlighted. 

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