When you fly a lot, when you’re part of the travelers’ tribe (as some like to call it), you have your own routines, hacks and habits. I particularly like to optimize my travel time, to make sure I have as little ‘waste’ as possible (optimizing my relative travel time), whether it is going through security, while packing or while spending my in-flight time. So here are my tips for making the most out of your in-flight time – on European (short) flights that is.

Optimizing your time

Before boarding

There are several things I tend to do before boarding to maximise my time.

  • Travel light. I make sure to try and pack only hand luggage (see my packing list), which massively speeds up my check-in.
  • Avoid the masses. I try and avoid the key rush hours (specific morning hours, evening hours) and either come early or try avoid masses in another way (priority check-in, etc).
  • Work from the lounge or another quiet spot. Although Lounges usually aren’t my favorite place on earth (apart from the new KLM lounge on Schiphol maybe), I try and work in a quiet coffee with some coffee and fresh fruit to maximise my time at the airport.
  • Save laptop battery. I try and save battery as much as possible when on the airport. Over the years, I have learned that it’s best to enter a plane with a battery as close to 100% as possible, as you never know when the next time will be you’ll encounter a power socket. That means charging your battery in a lounge, at the gate, at a Starbucks, wherever you can.


Boarding might be the toughest thing here. Many airlines have been testing with different ways of boarding, but fact is, boarding had become some sort of survival of the fittest. It is striking the ultimate balance of not queueing to early (and waiting too long) and not queueing too late (and waiting too long and having no place for your hand luggage near your seat).

  • Economy comfort. Most of the time I will try and get a economy comfort (the seats just behind business class) style of seat, which usually allows me to get seated quickly and leave the plane quickly (saving time).
  • Priority boarding. Priority boarding will gain you some time.

Waiting for the plane to leave

While waiting for the plane to leave (in between seating and the plane taking off), I usually open my laptop to send some last emails and finish some final things before closing my laptop for take-off.

Take-off and landing

I use the devices that are allowed during take-off and landing (phone, tablet) to usually read a bit (Pocket) and/or reply to some emails.


I use the devices that are allowed

Doing tasks that help make most of your in-flight time

  • I use Pocket to store articles I find. Pocket makes it easy to read articles offline. Usually, during take-off and landing (when I can’t use my laptop), I will sift through stored articles and share interesting ones with colleagues and friends.
  • Structuring my todos. I often spend some time working through my Evernote todos.
  • Writing. I love writing on the plane. As I hardly have any distractions, I can focus either on writing speeches, copy or even get some blogging done for my business or for this travel blog.
  • Email. Same goes for email. I usually rush through my inbox while I’m disconnected from wifi.
  • Presentations. Keynote and bad airline coffee is a match from heaven.

Using devices that can be used to make most of your in-flight time

  • Phone: Reading in Pocket.
  • Tablet: Reading in Pocket, working through Evernote todos.
  • Laptop: Writing, Keynote, Email.

So, what do you do to make the most of your in-flight time – European flights?

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