Once in a while I post the flight itinerary for an upcoming assignment. For some it will give an idea of the kind of travel and routing involved in international assignment work, for others it’ll just give you a reason to laugh at me.
So for my coming assignments in El Salvador, Malawi, and Uganda, behold:
Vancouver to Los Angeles to San Salvador
One week shooting in El Salvador
El Salvador Washington DC to Johannesburg. Overnight in Jo’burg, Jo’burg to to Lilongwe, Malawi
One week shooting in Malawi
Malawi to Nairobi, Kenya to Entebbe, Uganda
One week shooting in Uganda
Entebbe to Addis Ababa to Frankfurt via Khartoum to Vancouver
According to WebFlyer.com’s mileage calculator (link HERE) – that’s close to 25,000 miles from pillar to post.
These ones were a little tough to schedule. In part that’s because of the time-frame and the need for me to get where I am going quickly to be there for shooting. In part it’s because I’ve learned a few things and have begun making my preferences strongly known.
1. Never Fly Through Heathrow
If it can be avoided, I don’t fly through Heathrow. Their cary-on restrictions are unbending at the moment, and I carry much of my gear onto the plane. The last thing I need is trouble with this, and I’m already pushing it a little. Heathrow, until things settle down (is that even likely?), is one airport I avoid.
2. Fly Your Alliance.
Your elite status gets you a number of benefits that work to ensure that you get where you need to be, your gear gets there, and you do so in the greatest comfort possible. The best way to get your elite/gold status is to keep travelling with one alliance wherever possible. My Elite/Gold status is so important to me I’d buy a discount flight at year end to make up the difference I needed to qualify. I’ve never had to, not by a long shot, but I would. Flying one carrier alliance, and getting your gold status, is the single best way to ensure you get there with the least amount of trouble. If my clients pay for me to get to Malawi, and my gear and I don’t show up, it’s a very big deal. Taking the time to get routing that avoids trouble is more than worth it, it’s necessary.
3. Take a Layover at Night
If possible, schedule your layovers so they occur overnight. Then get to a nearby hotel and get a decent night’s sleep. It beats spending 14 hours in Frankfurt staring at the concrete and then boarding a red-eye that gets you on location just in time to shoot.
Your clients will appreciate you looking out for them, and one of the best ways you can do that is taking all possible steps to be there, with your gear, on time and as rested as possible. Now if only I could convince them to book me in the big seats.