Make work travel work with wifi and wine at the Admirals Club

Remember when flying was an affair worth dressing up for—where you wore fitted wool blazers and heels because well, you just did?

Helicopter Dominican Republic
When we can’t travel by private heli, we are both fly AA…and drink a lot of free wine.

Fast forward to today where the cost of airfare is more approachable than ever which, of course, is a good thing. The more people who can afford to travel, the more our world will continue to be less ethnocentric, less judgmental and well, less like Donald Trump.

The downside: the volume of people traveling is now staggering. And they aren’t wearing tweed anymore.

Since Julie and I both traveled about 80,000 miles last year primarily for work, the airport has become a second home. Or more like a second office. Since the advertising world is fast-paced and always on, working at the airport is unavoidable—and it’s about as fun as being hung by one’s toenails.

California wine country production
Shooting vineyards at sunrise in California, one of my work productions this year.

To take a call from the airport, it usually involves having to crouch with my laptop near an outlet while a romper room of children and boarding announcements provide a cacophony of background noise.

Enter the American Airline’s Admirals Club (or similarly exorbitantly-priced clubs from other airlines) where they offer quiet work stations, free wifi and complimentary wine, booze and snacks. The price they charge for these seemingly frivolous things seems absurd until you realize how priceless relative quiet (and wine) can be.

At my last agency, I was able to expense the $400 Admirals Club annual membership because I flew a certain number of miles each year. But not at my current job.

So for the past three years I have been slumming it with the other non-tweed-wearing travelers. And bitching about it every single trip because I am too cheap to pay out of pocket for such luxuries.

Last week I was flying to New York for work when presentation via conference call popped up right when I landed at LGA.  I spent 20 minutes madly looking for a quiet place to no avail, and finally settled on the food court. Not surprisingly, I did not give my best presentation.

American Airlines overhead skyNow this is where I stop and tell you I married the right person. Because after sharing this all-too-familiar tale with my wife Julie, she picked up the phone and extended her Admirals Club Membership to include me (for the bargain price of $225 a year). It was honestly one of the best things she could have done. Because I would never pay for that myself. So she did.

And on my return trip when I spent 3 hours in LGA due to a delayed flight, I happily relaxed with my complimentary glass of wine and free wifi in the Admirals Club while I finished up my work day. And it felt damn good.

Late Breaking Loophole: A week after Julie paid the $225 to have me added to her account, we received a notice in the mail saying her Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard (mouthful) now included Admirals Club access for all authorized users, meaning me. For no charge.

So we of course called for a full refund on the $225 she spent the week before and all was right in the world.

Qantas ad air flight mode
We might call it “airplane mode” in the US, but I loved this ad I saw in a Qantas airline zine earlier this year.

What do you think? I'd love to hear from you!

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