8 ways to stay productive on business flights

by Ashley DuBois

Business travel is gaining momentum as the world recovers from COVID-19 and employers recall the value of in-person meetings. In a recent GBTA poll, travel managers said their company’s domestic business travel bookings have recovered to 63% of the pre-pandemic level. International travel is beginning to increase also, with travel buyers reporting their company’s international business travel bookings have recovered to 50% of the pre-pandemic level.  

 Additionally, hybrid work schedules, which have become more common since the pandemic, offer employees the flexibility to travel for leisure during the week and work remotely from their destination. Airlines like United, which saw an increase of 13.2% in operating revenue growth in the third quarter of 2022 versus the third quarter of 2019, believe this trend will continue to contribute to an increase in air travel in 2023 and beyond.    

 As air travel recovers, one thing is certain – the lines between business and leisure travel have become blurred. Whether you’re traveling for business or leisure or perhaps a bit of both, chances are you may be taking some work with you. If that’s the case, here are some tips to help you stay productive on your flight, from lounge to landing.   

Sit near the front of the plane 

Savvy business travelers know sitting near the front of the cabin means you can get off the plane sooner and get to your destination – whether it’s a meeting or sightseeing – quicker. But how do you make sure you’ll get one of these sought-after seats?   

With airline products like preferred seating and United Economy Plusâ, you can purchase a seat near the front of the cabin (preferred seating includes the first few rows behind Economy Plus). You can make your purchase anytime you’re selecting a seat, from ticket purchase to check-in on united.com or at an airport kiosk. If you’re a frequent traveler, you might consider buying a subscription to Economy Plus for a year, which can save you money. Plus, you’ll earn MileagePlus points for your purchase (more details on that below).  

Get extra room to work (or relax) 

Seats at the front of the cabin – like those available through United Economy Plus – come with the added bonus of more legroom to stretch out or work. These seats also have more tray table space to accommodate laptops so you can get work done. 

Access Wi-Fi on your flight

Not long ago, business travelers were unreachable in the air, and many of us used the opportunity to savor a good book. But if you’re like most business travelers today, you might not have that luxury.  

Many airlines offer Wi-Fi service onboard, which can make all the difference when it comes to getting work done.   

United Wi-Fi works with nearly all laptops, tablets or phones and is available on most flights so you can surf the internet (or even stream on some planes), check email, connect to a VPN, or use social media. If you’re on your phone or tablet, make sure you download the United app before boarding so you’ll be able to access Wi-Fi on your flight.  

Whether your flight has Wi-Fi available depends on where you’re flying, the plane you’re on and the service provider your plane uses. You can check United’s Wi-Fi coverage map to see if your United flight has coverage.  

Take advantage of airline loyalty programs 

Airline loyalty programs offer business travelers ways to save money and enjoy benefits – many of which can help you stay productive. United’s MileagePlus is a loyalty program for frequent flyers who can earn (and spend) points through the number of flights taken and the value of tickets purchased.   

United’s MileagePlus Premier status offers an elevated travel experience and includes perks that can help business travelers be more productive. These include complimentary access to Economy Plus and preferred seating (for seats near the front of the cabin and more room to work) and complimentary checked bags to save time. Travelers with United’s most Premier status can take advantage of pre-boarding to get to their seats quicker.  

Sleep on the plane so you’re well rested 

On overnight flights, you’ll want to get some sleep so you can arrive well rested. United Polaris is business class service for premium cabin travelers and is available on long-haul international flights. Polaris is designed to bring a new level of quality to every aspect of premium cabin travel and promises some of the “best sleep in the sky.”  

How? Polaris seats offer more privacy and lie flat. They include luxury bedding from Saks Fifth Avenue, and you can even request a mattress topper for added comfort. 

United Polaris lounges, at select airports around the country, offer premium cabin travelers a variety of amenities to help them prepare for a restful flight or freshen up, including spa-like showers and relaxation areas with daybeds. If a Polaris lounge isn’t available at your departure airport, United Club locations are more widely available and offer amenities to make your travel experience more productive, like free high-speed Wi-Fi.  

Ask for noise cancelling headphones  

Noise cancelling headphones are available on United Polaris flights.  

Need more info – Are they only available on Polaris flights? Are they complimentary? Do you have to request them? How well do they work? 

Take advantage of luxury amenities  

 For some business travelers, choosing not to work and opting instead to arrive well rested may be the best way to ensure you’re productive on your trip. Many airlines now offer a variety of luxury amenities to help travelers enjoy the travel experience and arrive at their destination refreshed.  

On Polaris flights, United offers amenity kits with items for your comfort like luxury skincare products, ear plugs and an eye mask to block out distractions. United also provides slippers on Polaris flights and even pajamas (available upon request) on flights longer than 12 hours.   

Book your rental car in advance  

One last tip – some airlines partner with rental car companies to provide travelers with additional savings and perks. United’s MileagePlus program allows you to book a car with Avis or Budget on united.com. Plus, you can receive special savings and earn airline miles for qualified car rentals. Be sure to book your rental car ahead of time to avoid long lines at the counter so you can be on your way.  

The airline industry continues to evolve to meet the rapidly changing needs of today’s business travelers. Whether your company has five employees or 50,000, United for Business has a range of products and services that can be customized to meet your company’s travel needs for productivity, convenience, cost-effectiveness, sustainability and more. 



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