Why I Red Eye

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The “Red Eye” flight is brutal. For the unaware, a red eye flight is one that leaves the West Coast late at night and arrives the next morning on the East Coast (for example, last night I left Portland, OR at 10:15p and arrived in Charlotte, NC at 6:05a). It isn’t any fun, not one is happy to be on it, it is not easy to sleep in a plane for anyone (let alone a 6’4″ man), and you end up at your destination bleary-eyed and groggy.

So why do I red eye? I red eye because of the picture above. By taking the red eye last night, I walked through my front door in time to walk my son to the bus stop and see him off to school. We had a conversation about a news story he saw about the forest fire ash in Arizona leading to glacial melt in the Arctic, and I kissed my wife and daughter before they went to work and day care. I took a short nap and got back to the day’s work. It was TOTALLY worth it!

This is the second time in my life I’ve traveled a lot for work and I feel like I’m doing it better this time. When I make travel arrangements, I try to always take into consideration what is going to put the least stress on the family and still allow me to meet my business obligations. I try not to have too many back to back weeks of travel. And when I am home, I do everything I can to be present, available, and flexible with my schedule so that I can give more of my time to my family. On the road, I try to get good rest, get in a morning run, and not eat junk every single meal.

It still isn’t perfect. Business travel is a tough part of life for a lot of people today.  I have learned a lot in my life through travel and most recently, I’ve started to learn to treat business travel like any other commute and do the best to get where I’m going safely and on time for the important things in life like walking to the bus stop.

Business Travelers

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Anybody who travels regularly knows that there are Leisure Travelers and Business Travelers who occupy the space in our airports. The fun thing about traveling is learning some of the finer points of identifying particular species of Business Travelers. For those of you just learning this art, here’s a quick lesson…

The Suit and Tie
Natural Habitats: LaGuardia, O’Hare, LAX, Atlanta, Dulles, Houston
Distinguishing Traits: Crisply pressed suit and tie (pocket square likely), hard sided briefcase, phone constantly to the ear having ‘very important conversation,’ curt to all other passengers and airline personnel, most often seen on flights before 8a and after 8p (with tie loosened, but not off).

The Sportcoat, Slacks, No Tie
Natural Habitats: Charlotte, Boston, Miami, DFW, Denver, San Francisco, Seattle, Detroit
Distinguishing Traits: Only slightly less uptight than Suit and Tie, this guy has meetings to get to, but isn’t as self-important or just has a more relaxed corporate environment, also on the phone constantly, but at least courteous to other passengers and airline staff, still likely to carry a briefcase, but may be soft sided, most often seen on flights mid-morning and mid-afternoon because he doesn’t have to cram every single minute of every day with work.

The Sportcoat and Jeans
Natural Habitats: Same as Sportcoat, Slacks, No Tie, but also occasionally seen in San Diego, Portland, Nashville, Birmingham, and San Antonio
Distinguishing Traits: Relaxed and laid back, this guy is either done with his meetings and threw on some jeans to wind down or (like me) has a job where this uniform is the norm (creative businesses of all types wear this uniform), mixture of soft-sided briefcases and backpacks carried by this species, but he is only on the phone with the wife and kids and is almost always courteous to everyone, most often seen mid-morning and mid-afternoon but you’ll also see him on a red-eye after a long west coast work day

The Blue Collar 
Natural Habitats: This species is everywhere, but concentrated in Dallas Love Field, Denver, Phoenix, Chicago Midway, Jacksonville, Birmingham, Nashville, and any other regional airport
Distinguishing Traits: The style varies, but there are always boots (cowboy or work), there are usually jeans or pressed khakis, and there is nearly always a button down shirt with a logo on the chest, also common to see a matching logo jacket (Carhhart is preferred) and some sort of hat, overly courteous to everyone, rarely on his flip phone, if he carries a bag it will be beat up and rugged, and he is always anxious to get to the bar

Jogging Suit
Natural Habitats: most often found flying TO a regional airport
Distinguishing Traits: very difficult to distinguish from a Leisure Traveler, one must look carefully for tell tale signs – dress socks with a jogging suit and sneakers, a briefcase that doesn’t fit with the outfit, far too many self-important cell phone calls, and dropping the corporate credit card at the bar after one too many in his relaxed state; on rare occasions, this species will also throw on the sportcoat that he doesn’t want to wrinkle in his bag over the jogging suit

Women
Easily identifiable, but no defining characteristics. Most female business travelers look like they could immediately walk into a CEO level business meeting or a PTA board meeting without missing a beat. All species pretty much the same.

I hope this will make your next trip to the airport more interesting and enjoyable. Happy Hunting.