Eight ways to make the most of your time on board

Some people call business airplanes time machines because they can dramatically reduce the number of hours and days it takes to travel from place to place. But flying privately does still require you to spend some time in transit. Here are eight ways to use that time more productively:

1. Have a meeting. A business airplane offers the most secure environment possible for managers to discuss sensitive topics without fear of nosy neighbors picking up proprietary data-something that might well happen aboard an airliner, even in first class. Whatever can be said in your boardroom can be said on your airplane, and with fewer distractions.

2. Prep your clients. Nothing impresses clients like picking them up at their local airport and whisking them off to the ­manufacturing site to see the product up close and personal. An hour or two aboard the business jet gives you a chance to make current and ­potential clients feel special. The fact that a car pulls up to the airplane on arrival to pick up the customer while he's still recalling a gourmet onboard meal can speak volumes about your company.

3. Help someone. Business jets often travel with a few empty seats. Thanks to not-for-profit groups like the Corporate Angel Network, you can accomplish two missions in the same flight-transport company employees and also deliver patients in need of critical care to a hospital along the way. The charities generally do all the work of coordinating trips around your flight department's schedule. 

4. Stay connected. Onboard Wi-Fi and satcom are now considered necessities for road warriors, and the technology has come a long way. Aircell's Gogo Biz provides an office-like Internet experience almost anywhere in the U.S., for example, and Ku-band satellites give you much the same anywhere on the planet, which means conference calls and even bandwidth-sucking video conferences can happen almost anytime and anywhere. Don't forget to connect with your family, too. Just because you're 41,000 feet over the North Atlantic and your kids are back home doesn't mean you can't read them a bedtime story.

5. Change your destination. Sometimes the best decision is to change decisions. Imagine where your company could be headed tomorrow if you made a change in your flight plan today. What new location have you been trying to open up to your company? Want to risk an hour or two of your time against the future of the company? Walk up to the cockpit and ask how much extra work it might be to turn 40 degrees off course and head to Oklahoma City or Reno so you can follow your impulse. That's something you could never do on an airliner. 

6. Make a cold call. Cold calls often get cold receptions. But what if an assistant were to announce you like this: "Mr. Reed? There's a fellow on the phone that you met at the electronics show last week. He's calling from the company jet en route to New York and wondered if you might have a minute to talk over some ideas." Who in the world would say no to that?

7. Suit up. You're traveling aboard a business jet because you value your time. Shopping for clothes can eat up lots of hours. Imagine if a tailor could accompany you on your flight to show off the latest styles and measure you for some suits. ­Several fractional jet-share providers offer just such a service to their customers and you can also arrange on your own for a tailor to do onboard fittings. [See "The Personal Clothier in the Sky" -Ed.] 

8. Do nothing. There's no better place to relax than on a business jet, and the calm and serenity of a few ­distraction-free hours at Flight Level 410 might be just the catalyst to clear your head. So sit back and enjoy the view. You may well find that an hour of being ostensibly unproductive on the aircraft recharges your batteries and makes you a whole lot more productive after you land.