Frequent Flyer

Business Travel Packing Tips from Airline Insiders

By Melanie Johnson

September 9, 2013

For some, business travel can feel like an episode of The Amazing Race—rushed, stressful and a real hassle. But it doesn’t have to be as dramatic as reality TV, especially with some tips and tricks from Utah’s most savvy road warriors.

Ready at a Moment’s Notice

Kate Hart has packing down to a science. As the JetBlue Airways director of customer support in Salt Lake City, she is on the road several days each month. She is always ready to go because she keeps a list of must haves in her travel bag at all times.

“The thing that saves the most time is having my bag pre-packed and loaded all of the time so the only thing I have to think about is my clothes,” Hart explains. “This also helps to avoid arriving at a destination and realizing something was left at home.”

Pack to Carry On

Hart travels with an 18-inch roller bag and a briefcase/purse that sits on top of the roller. Her rule of thumb? “If it doesn’t fit in those two bags, it’s not going with me.”

This strategy works for a one-day trip or a seven-day trip.

“You can fit everything you need into this bag. It’s all about being strategic and how I plan my clothing,” she says. 

When checking a bag is necessary, Hart places several business cards inside her bag for identification purposes and in case the external tag falls off during travel. She also ensures that she carries on her high value items such as keys, medicine, toiletries and electronics—items that couldn’t be replaced if the bag were lost.

Reduce and Reuse

Optimize the space in your bag with Hart’s tips:

  • Stick to the same color scheme; if coordinated with shirt patterns and colors, pants can be worn more than once.
  • If a dress coat or blazer is needed, wear it on the plane and ask the flight crew to put it on a hanger.
  • For women, save space by investing in dress t-shirts. These shirts look great under a jacket or cardigan and don’t take up a lot of space.
  • Place dryer sheets between articles of clothing; it helps clothes stay fresh and avoid static cling.
  • For longer trips, pack laundry detergent packets and consider washing clothes in the hotel sink. This helps to avoid packing extra articles of clothing, and some find that it’s easier than having to check a bag and risk losing it. 

Get Through Security Faster

Hart has a system in place that helps her breeze through airport security:

  • Place bag of liquids/toiletries in the top of your carry-on by the zipper so you can easily remove it when going through security. This also helps to avoid exposing suitcase contents to others. If Hart has to check her carry-on at the gate, she can quickly remove the bag and insert it into her purse, mitigating the risk of being without toiletries if the bag gets lost. 
  • Have the boarding pass and photo identification ready.
  • Place belongings in the airport security scanning bins in the following order:

1.                  Shoes, belts, jewelry, etc.

2.                  Laptop, liquids and other electronics

3.                  Suitcase/briefcase purse

“I do it in that order so that when I get through, I can get dressed quickly and put those things back on while they’re still scanning my bag. Then the laptop comes through next, and I can easily put that in my bag, along with toiletries. It speeds up the process,” Hart says.

Frequent travelers should consider becoming a TSA Pre✓ Trusted Traveler. Managed by the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA), this program allows qualifying frequent flyers to go through an annual pre-screening assessment, which enables them to skip security lines at designated airports. Find more information at

Pack for In-flight Comfort

Frequent business traveler Amber Hunter has sage advice for in-flight comfort essentials:

  • Flip flops. For Hunter, flip flops are a travel must have. “They are easy to pack, easy to navigate TSA lines when you have to take your shoes on and off, and are great for walking around your hotel room,” she says.
  • Neck pillow. They’re easy to drape over the handle of a carry-on and can be a lifesaver, especially if traveling on a red-eye flight.
  • Noise-canceling headphones. These can be a business traveler’s best friend and can help you get the shut-eye you need. “Noise canceling headphones are pricey, but totally worth it on planes and if you happen to get stuck in a noisy hotel,” Hunter says.
  • Socks. “Planes are cold and feet swell. There’s something about having a cozy pair of socks that add more comfort to the flight,” she says.  
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