Notes on Post-Pandemic Business Travel

Originally published at: Notes on Post-Pandemic Business Travel - TidBITS

Adam Engst took his first business trip in four years and discovered that some things have changed. He took advantage of packing and flight tracking apps, got free Wi-Fi on several flights, discovered that USB Type-A to USB-C cables are essential, learned that TSA PreCheck is easier to get, and ran across his second App Clip ever.


If you routinely fly one airline, it’s definitely worth downloading and reading their Contract of Carriage (probably a PDF.) Here’s the page for United’s CofC: That’s your friend if there are problems en-route, as it lays down the airline’s legal responsibilities and commitments. (Once in Montreal, I helped a passenger and the gate agent, by showing the gate agent where the contract of carriage allowed him to rebook a passenger from Newark to LaGuardia under the contract’s “equivalent airports” clause. The gate agent wasn’t sure if he could do that without collecting a fee (not his airline), so he was happy to see the language that authorized it.)


If you have reason to fly to/from Canada (like you do, Adam), then Nexus might be the better option. It is the option for Canadians with regular business or leisure travel to the US. For Americans who visit Canada, it gives you similar benefits to TSA PreCheck within Canada and when flying Canada to US. I admit I was sceptical when my wife said she was getting Nexus because a busy year for us would be 3 round trips. (I did end up getting one as well.) But on those days where the line at security is super long, having Nexus takes a bunch of stress (and waiting) out of the process by giving you the “short line”.

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Seconded for these reasons, but also because I suspect it’ll be easier for Adam to get to an enrollment center… there are a few at US/Canada border points in NY, which might be a more easy/feasible trip. I used to live in Western NY and didn’t go to Canada enough to warrant NEXUS by itself, but I still keep my NEXUS membership up to date for the PreCheck and Global Entry benefits.

Good article. Thanks for the tips. And now some random comments of mine.

FWIW, I always travel with at least one AC adapter brick in my carry-on bag. This lets me charge in the terminal from any outlet without worrying about random USB jacks (I realize that juice jacking hasn’t been seen outside of proof-of-concepts at security conferences, but I’d still prefer to not take a chance).

Unfortunately, even when planes have AC outlets, they are often so abused that a power adapter can often fall out within seconds after insertion. So I frequently find myself using the seatback USB-A ports while in flight.

I too haven’t bothered with PreCheck or Global Entry. I fly maybe once per year, so it just seems like a waste of money for me. In order to avoid the stress of long lines at the security checkpoint, I recommend (and do):

  • Arrive much earlier than recommended. I try to arrive 3-4 hours before my flight. This way, even the longest lines at TSA won’t endanger my schedule.
    • The only problem with this is that some airports won’t check a bag more than 4 hours before takeoff. And some (like Tampa) don’t make their most convenient options (like checking your bag right when you enter the building from the train from the car rental facility) available until 2 hours before takeoff. So i sometimes need to lug my bag to the main ticketing area and/or wait a bit. But I’m OK with that.
  • Wear Crocs. Or some other easily-removable footwear. It’s just more convenient than having to mess with laces while on line at the security checkpoint.
  • Organize your carry-on bag so you can quickly remove and re-insert your laptop, for those airports that require it (some let you leave electronics in-bag, which is nice, but it’s far from universal).
  • I keep a few quart-size bags in my carry-on, so I can start unloading my pockets into them while waiting on line.
    • This has nothing to do with the 3-1-1 liquids rule, but is because I wear a lot of stuff that has to be removed prior to screening, and I need a place to put it while I’m on line and not near the X-ray tubs.
    • I’m not kidding about a lot of stuff. Two phones, iPod, wallet, card purse, money clip, coin purse, keys, comb, watch, pen, and assorted paper items.
    • To try and make the most of my time waiting on line, I offload all this stuff into the bags while waiting on line. I can then quickly put those bags into a tub when I get to the checkpoint.
  • Don’t be afraid to use multiple tubs for your stuff. At airports where I need to separate out my electronics from everything else, I may use three or four, especially if I’m wearing a winter coat.
    • But since this often takes a few minutes at the head of the line, be nice and let others with less stuff go around you while you put your stuff into the tubs.

Once I’m past the security checkpoint, that’s when I can relax. I carry the tubs to a table or bench and take my time putting my stuff back where it belongs. Then, since I (usually) have plenty of time before boarding, I can leisurely walk to the gate and find a place to get a meal.

One final tip, especially for long domestic flights. Food isn’t included (hasn’t been for some time) and the stuff they sell in-flight (at least for economy class) is lousy and overpriced. So take some time (you should have plenty if you arrive as early as I do) to buy your own carry-on meal in the terminal. I can usually find a sandwich shop near my gate, so I’ll go there to buy lunch, carry it on, and eat it in-flight.


Regarding the Global Entry interview:

There is a program that allows you to satisfy the interview requirement upon arrival from an international location. So, you need to apply and then allow time for the interview when you arrive home from your first trip (unless you are flying to an international location that also can do the interview:


I took one U.S. trip last year for the first time since the pandemic, and another one this year. I just create a folder for the trip in Notes (e.g. Boston St. Louis Trip 2024) and have notes in there, with checklists.

As far as GlobalEntry goes I will note that when we renewed ours my wife was asked to do the interview via Zoom. Not sure if that would apply to new applicants.

We do a similar thing, but I have a shared folder with my wife with at least one note for each trip, and we add PDFs received, new plans, etc., here. (I’ll print emails to PDF and share them to the note to get those added, as mails don’t have an easy share sheet control.)

These details also go into my TripIt account, which syncs with our calendars, but it’s nice to have the notes to verify confirmation numbers, etc., when checking in to hotels, flights, etc.

Is there any meaningful advantage in using Packing Pro over OmniOutliner? I use OmniOutliner to plan my Scout trips, camping trips, etc., and it seems to do most of what you use Packing Pro for, plus has general utility as a list-making app.

IMHO for frequent international travel you want CBP’s MPC app. In my experience entering the US at various airports after travel abroad, lines are often much shorter for MPC travelers. Unlike scammy “fast track” subscriptions, this app doesn’t cost a thing and lets you answer CBP questions and submit your entry form while you’re still seated as the aircraft pulls into the gate. The only catch is it will only work for US citizens, and these days I believe also Green Card holders.

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+1. The MPC app is simple to use and faster than the paper customs declaration.

The last time I used the MPC app (several years ago, entering the country via JFK in New York), the MPC lane just ended at a kiosk which scanned my phone and printed a piece of paper (with all the same information I would’ve written on the paper declaration form) which I had to hand to the CBP person along with my passport. It didn’t save any time over doing it by hand, and might have taken longer because I needed to wait for the kiosk to read my phone and print the slip.

But that was several years ago. Maybe somebody grew a brain and fixed it since then?

You know the irony now with Apple is that their products finally offer USB-C ports for charging BUT Apple doesn’t offer an OEM Apple legacy USB to USB-C charger cable. Sure, you can get a non-Apple Belkin for $20-$30US on the Apple store. Or cheaper 3rd party cable solutions. But for some of my faculty that travel and recently were upgraded to iPhone 15Pro models, they too, realized on a flight as well as rental car, that USB-C is not a standard. So now, when I have to order upgrades for others, I need to also order a 2m USB-C charge cable, as well as a legacy USB to USB-C cable (in 2 lengths…one for their car and one for other). I also get that 2 in one charger since some have spouses/partners and two USB-C devices to charge. And yeah, there is a International charger I found that has USB and USB-C charge ports.

FWIW, the last two times I flew into the US (last April and this past January) there was absolutely no form at all. In January, the immigration officer asked if we had anything to declare, and let us pass through after we answered no. (He also asked if we had any alcohol.) Last April we cleared immigration and customs in Ireland and, again, no paper forms, no MPC app.

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We have Nexus because we’re only a few hours from the Canadian border and thought, when we brought the whole family up for our interviews in JANUARY 2020 we would enjoy the ease of crossing into Canada as well as getting Global Entry and TSA Pre benefits.

I have not returned to Canada since well before that, for reasons of pandemic! I have two trips planned for business this year, so it will be helpful. And I have six flights last year and two international ones in the last two years, so the TSA Pre and Global Entry parts were great!

It’s also only $50 for five years.

Two downsides, though! You have to go to near-Canada city for the in-person interview with both US border control and Canada border control. Second, they’re so backlogged, that I believe it is 9 to 12 months to schedule an interview at some lcoations. For Adam and Tonya, it’s Champlain, Ogdensburg, or Niagara Falls, NY! We just go to Blaine, a bit north of Bellingham.

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I expect to fly more in the last couple of years, but then had a blowout last year with two business-related trips (paid by other people), two research trips, a visit to my older at college cross-country from us, and our long-delayed family 2020 trip! I think it was 50,000 miles and 14 segments. I did earn status on Alaska, and have gotten free upgrades on there of my four Alaska segments this year so far (twice to first class…on small planes for short distance.)

The title of this article is infuriating. The world is not at all “post-pandemic.” The WHO decided to end the “emergency” status, but the COVID pandemic is still very much with us. Pretending otherwise is delusional and shameful.
#CovidIsNotOver #CovidIsAirborne #CleanAir #WearAMask #CovidVaccine #LongCovid


I check with Flighty and since 2022 I’ve been the equivalent of 1.8 times around the world.

I have to say post-lockdown my wife and I positively sprang onto a plane to remote Croatia, heat, swimming in warm seas… too long.

I’ve downloaded the Packing Pro app, a three country trip this June and an extended stay in Italy at the end of the year coming up. I am notorious in my family for emergency purchases while abroad. Never any issues with tech but have been known to travel without underwear.

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Excellent advice, @Shamino

A couple of suggestions:

I wrap a couple of rubber bands around the power adaptor and have often been able to use one to hold the adaptor in place in a loose receptacle. They often come in handy in other random ways, as well. Rubber bands (and twist-ties) are really useful.

Even though I don’t travel an enormous amount at the moment, I’m very glad for my PreCheck, just for the ability not to have to take my shoes off/take my laptop out/etc for security.

I usually wear a jacket with large pockets and I can just put everything in the jacket, take the jacket off, and put it in the bin. It’s quick and since I have the jacket on as I’m doing it, I don’t have to worry about holding a plastic bag in addition to everything else while I’m shoveling things in.

Excellent advice – just, for the sake of your fellow passengers, don’t get anything really smelly.

A couple of other recommendations:

  1. Packing cubes are a god-send for packing/unpacking. I also usually put one with a complete change of clothes in my carry-on (if I’ve checked my main bag). Good emergency backup.

  2. I have duplicates of all my toiletries at home and just leave them packed in my kit. When I pack, I just grab the kit and I’m ready.

  3. AirTags in all my bags! Even carry-ons, in case they get lost/stolen.

  4. As Kevin below noted, TripIt is super useful.

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