Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Flying with McKinsey - checking in bags is not allowed!

It's the holiday season - Thanksgiving is in a couple of days and a lot of people will be dealing with big crowds and long lines at the airport.  It brought to mind a travel tip:  when flying with McKinsey consultants, never check-in your luggage.  It doesn't come up often, but if it does, it's an easy way to get on a seasoned business traveler's bad side.  I'll explain why and offer some suggestion on how to avoid it...

Image from "Up In the Air"



To a non-consultant, the scene from "Up In the Air" in which George Clooney starts throwing away things in Anna Kendrick's luggage probably seems like an over-the-top exaggeration.  But any experienced road warrior who has had to waste time at baggage claim while waiting for a colleague's suitcase to appear on the carousel has likely fantasized about doing just that.

Checked bags cause problems on both ends of the flight.  You have to get to the airport earlier to make sure you have enough time to check in your bags.  After you land, you have to go to baggage claim and wait until your luggage finally arrives.  Your consultant colleagues would rather be on their way to the taxi stand or rental cars so they can get home, the client site, or the hotel sooner.  Don't be the one standing between your colleagues - especially your boss - and their destinations.


For many consultants, the worst part of the job is the lifestyle.  We work such long days and spend so many hours traveling that we cherish our free time.  We'll do whatever we can to defend it and can get extremely frustrated when it's squandered.  We also have a lot to do and never enough time to do it, so we're always in a rush (these tendencies persist even after we leave the Firm)As a result, we can get incredibly annoyed when we get delayed.  Therefore, you should do what you can to avoid being the cause of a delay.  


Avoiding this situation is not difficult.  If you can't fit it into your two carry-on bags, consider whether or not you need it at all.  If you're new to this, it can be an iterative process - at the end of each trip, take note of the things you packed but never used and edit them out for your next trip.

A future post will give more detailed advice on how to pack light.



You might have bulky items you specifically need for the trip.  Consider alternative means of getting them to your destination besides adding to your luggage and necessitating a checked bag.  Suggestions include:

  • Ship to your destination - if you're worried about the cost, consider the wasted productivity in terms of people and hours of your team waiting idly in baggage claim

  • Print at your destination - if you're planning to travel with printed materials for a presentation, don't.  There are so many FedEx Office or similar locations around the world that you can almost certainly get your documents printed there.  In most cases you can email your files and have them printed in advance.  Hotel business centers are also an option, albeit much more expensive.

  • Buy or rent at your destination -  many bulky items like are relatively inexpensive to rent or purchase at your destination.  These days many hotels and conference centers offer these items at inflated prices, but they'll save you a lot of trouble and you can expense the costs.

1 comment:

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