is a professor for IT security and an IT security and data protection consultant. Traveling extensively both privately and for his job, Prof. Dr. Tobias Eggendorfer has spent a fair bit of time roaming airports and looking at the earth from above. Today he’s sharing with us his experience as a frequent flyer.
Thank you for being with us today! How is traveling related to your job and how often do you usually travel?
All of my jobs require their share of travel: As a professor I need to attend conferences, meet colleagues, run summer schools or other international projects. As a consultant some of my customers want me to attend conferences, meetings, or just stop by at their respective office location. Unfortunately I also got infected with the travel bug outside my professional life…
What’s most important to you when traveling?
I often use travel time to get some work done, clear out my email inbox – such as answering to the interview. This means I need my laptop to be working and time, to get my mails typed. For the laptop to be working, power plugs are a necessity, network access sometimes handy.
For me to be able to work some privacy and time are required. Privacy is easiest provided with technology, such as privacy filters for the screen or a place where I could sit without being disturbed. Ideally this happens while being moved.
What are your tips for traveling light?
Being in IT I’ve got the advantage of rarely having to adhere to a very formal dress code, jeans and shirts pack fairly lightly. I also use a very light carry on trolley and try to restrict myself to that trolley.
What do you enjoy doing on the plane?
I often just get some work done, if there is time left and the class of travel provides me with the benefit of a choice of wine, I usually try to taste them for the sake of curiosity. I also enjoy reading books, where I prefer an actual printed book over ebooks, despite the weight disadvantage. But turning pages is a part of reading as well as not having to stare at yet another screen. I usually don’t use the entertainment system except for listening to some music or checking the map.
What are, in your opinion, the main benefits of a high frequent flyer status?
It speeds up the access to the aircraft at the airport, from check-in trough security to boarding, saving time. That time I rather spend in an airport lounge in a quiet corner getting my work done and potentially sipping a cup of coffee.
It should also be helpful in case of irregularities, which however depends on the airline. Some do care and provide specific phone numbers, others however just ignore the fact. I recently had to sit for 1.25 hours on the phone trying to rebook an American Airlines flight that had been rebooked by the airline.
What would make traveling even more pleasant for you?
If airlines would stick to their promises and provide the service they advertise: There are airports where fast lanes converge with the regular lane, creating awkward situations and slowing the process – Munich 1B being an example of how not to do it.
Qualified staff at security check points working efficiently. Hamburg airport is the bad example this time, with very slow and unfriendly staff compared to, say, Munich. I won’t discuss Frankfurt at this point, which is just a plain mess.
Another pet peeve of mine are codeshares: This usually ends in chaos, no lounge access anywhere, miles not being credited, seats cannot be reserved, in case of irregularities both the operating airlines and the codeshare partner start shifting responsibilities. If we got rid of these, travel would be much easier.
I’d also love hotels to allow check-in and -out at any time, rather than being forced into the 15:00 – 11:00 pattern, which is usually not compatible with flight times. Looking at the few occasions I actually asked for an early check-in or late check-out compared to nights I checked in at 22:00 and out at 6 the next morning, it shouldn’t be too hard to accommodate.
While looking at wishes: Proper coffee would just be great as well…
What’s your craziest travel story?
Being very much into data protection and IT security, I don’t really like driving modern cars for them being hackable and often transmitting data to their manufacturers. Although I do quite a lot of their maintenance myself, with some hundred thousand kilometers under the belt sometimes parts might fail leaving me stranded. Once a few weeks before Christmas late in the evening driving home somewhere close to the middle of nowhere the alternator had failed, which I realized thanks to the lights going darker and the radio playing more atmospheric noise. I rolled to a halt near a farm gate, just off the road shoulder – so at least my now dark car wasn’t an invisible traffic hazard.
When I stopped I noticed someone in a shed nearby, but first started checking on the alternator: Was the belt ok? All wires in place and properly connected? And all that jazz. The person collecting some wood for his heater in the shed asked me what I was doing. I explained to him that my car had broken down and I probably wouldn’t be able to fix it myself, so I would have to call a tow-truck.
I could hardly even grab my phone to ring the road-side assistance when I was invited to join him and his family inside, where I was offered cookies fresh from the oven – when the tow truck arrived I was actually happy my car had failed, having met this nice family.
Thank you very much for talking to us today! We wish you pleasant travels in the future!