Surviving the Airport

Practical tips for a hassle-free trip

Cami Zimmer is a chronic overpacker. The Minneapolis-based exec crisscrosses the country several times a month and never knows exactly what the weather will be like where she’s headed. But juggling more than two bags filled with backup outfits and accessories can be cumbersome. “It’s hard to get in and out of a taxi alone if you’re carrying too much stuff,” she says. “It’s also embarrassing to look clumsy in front of a client.” Attempting to simplify, she sometimes forgoes luggage entirely.

“One time I shipped a bunch of shoes,” she says with a laugh, recalling a time she relied on the postal service to pre-deliver her luggage. Similarly, every hotel she’s stayed in over the past year has had an on-site business center, which she uses to mail client materials back to her office.

Like Zimmer, Saideh Browne doesn’t bother with excess cargo. “I never check anything,” says the carry-on-reliant Hoboken-based life coach and author. “If I have too much to bring back in the cabin, I ship luggage directly to my home.” Browne says that many hotels she frequents offer FedEx Ground, but that even the good old USPS Flat Rate envelopes and boxes (from $4.90, ordered online) beat airline luggage fees, which typically start at $20 for the first bag and may increase for each bag thereafter.

Frequent fliers like Zimmer and Browne are finding ways to lighten their load and avoid other airport hassles—and even get some relaxing downtime.

A number of traveling execs rely on premium lounge perks to get them through a long haul or to freshen up on a layover before meeting with an important client. Lounges can provide quiet space to work, as well as showers, business services like free faxing and Internet access, complimentary snacks, and the occasional open bar.

Susan Robertson, an executive at an Orlando-based consultancy, gets free access to Delta lounges as a Diamond Status SkyMiles program member. But, she says, “On the rare occasion that I fly an airline other than Delta, I’ve paid for lounge access to get some work done, or if I just needed to be in a quiet place for a while to de-stress.” Lounge day passes start at $29 a day on

Professional team builder Lisa Jennings travels several times a month and relies on the biometric identity confirmation Clear program to quickly slip through security. Clear runs a background check on its members, then offers special security kiosk access for a $179 annual fee. The program has an ardent fan base, even though the company has had a rocky few years. After its high-profile launch in 2005, Clear’s parent company filed for bankruptcy and shuttered in 2009. Under new management, Clear relaunched in 2010 to once again serve Denver and Orlando, Jennings’ home airport. Clear plans to add more airports to its roster in the coming year.

Jennings swears that any potential privacy trade-offs for unlimited Clear access are worth it. “Time is money,” she says. “Plus, it’s kind of cool feeling like a rock star when they escort you past everyone else in the security line to the front of the queue!”

San Francisco–based journalist Brittany Shoot writes about arts and culture, travel, and the environment. Visit her online at

Join the Diversity Woman Community

Join a network of career-oriented women and use the member directory to see all the members in your community and find world class mentors. Access exclusive leadership development packages to help you achieve your career goals. Work With Coaches. Take Career Development Courses, and much more.