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6 Tips That Will Get You an Empty Seat Next to You On an (Almost) Full Flight

A practical guest post by Scott from Trekeo for I’m myself a heavy user of these tips when flying between Paris and Vienna… and they really work!  Please feel free to add your tips in the comments.

My nightmare finds myself stuck in the center seat on a 4-hour flight. To my right is a guy twice my size who decides that both armrests belong to him. He spends most of the flight fidgeting and complaining under his breath. Turns out he is a heavy breather; with a head cold. On my left is a middle-aged woman who is flying for the first time in years. The look on her face tells me that she would rather be going in for major surgery than sitting on the plane. She expresses her nervousness by talking; incessantly. For four hours I experience hell in stereo. There has to be a better way.

These are not guarantees, but here are some tips I have used with success in getting an empty seat next to me.

Book near the back of the plane. Usually tickets are first booked at the front and then fill toward the back. I always book near the back, where there is an empty seat next to the seat I want. Some travelers hate the back because it takes more time to get off the plane. For me, an additional 5 minutes deplaning is worth the possibility of an empty seat.

Book an aisle seat. This puts you in prime position to make the shuffle. What is “The Shuffle?” Read on.

The Shuffle. Once you are in your assigned aisle seat, look around for an open seat. As soon as you hear the flight attendants say that the doors have been locked and you sense that there are no more passengers boarding, unbuckle your seat belt and move. Do not wait to ask the flight attendants (they don’t care). Wait too long and someone else will take the empty. Strike as fast as you can.

Book non-reclining seats. Many travelers try to stay away from non-reclining seats. I would rather have an empty seat next to me than 4 inches of reclining seat.

Book an aisle and a window. If you are traveling with another person, book one aisle seat and one window (again, near the back of the plane). Do this only if there is an empty seat in between the seats you book. It is possible that someone will fill that seat, but the chances are slim. Most people who travel solo will look to take any seat except the one between you and your traveling partner. When you check in for your flight, double-check your seating. If your center seat is filled, find another with an empty and change your seat assignments. I have used this with success numerous times.

Be the last to board the plane. If you fly on a carrier that doesn’t have assigned seats, try to be the last person to board the plane. That way you can pick out a seat with nobody next to you without having to wait until the entire plane is full and then look around to see if there are open seats.

What have you used to make more room for you on a flight?

Picture of the week – iPad printing issue: solved

Magical in its simplicity. Continue Reading →

Extreme tip of the day: Pack a Gun to Protect Valuables from Airline Theft or Loss [Air Travel Tip]


If you’re reading this blog, this might be because you are also sharing our philosophy of living the life of a Digital Nomad. Or not… but you’re at least interested in news about cool gizmos, mobility oriented design, hot news on mobility or travelling tips like the one of today.


Though at first I found this tip a little bit too extreme (maybe because of the fact that I’m a European who is not familiar with this kind of practice and the idea of owning a firearm – and less of carrying it with me in my suitcase!), I then realized after reading this article by Jason Fitzpatrick of Lifehacker, that this was not such a bad idea, all the more so as the word “weapon” extends to airguns, and STARTER PISTOL and that this is fully covered by the regulations of the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA), or better said, legal.


Until you’ve yourself experienced this pain in the neck situation of having your luggage lost by the airline you flew with, which is even worse when it happens to you on your way to your holiday destination (or can turn into a nightmare when you were planning to spend two weeks skiing in Vancouver or Vail…) you can’t understand why this tip is actually very helpful.


Personally I flew three times with Delta Airlines (twice to New York City, once to Mexico City), and I got my luggage lost every single time. Bad luck? I don’t know, but this makes me now believe that I have 100% chances to lose again my suitcase when I’ll fly with this Airline. So if I have a chance to make the risk drop to.. 0% I’ll take it!


Read the full article on how to take advantage of the TSA’s own security rules to prevent your bags from being lost or looted by airline/airport workers


If you want more crazy stories about bad ass airlines and if you can read Spanish (or at least use Google Translate, but as usual this may spoil the quality of the professional-like writing), you should read this story which happened to a friend of mine on his way back to Mexico. It’s really well written and worth the ride.


Passive Agressive Wi-Fi Hotspots

Do you have enough of your neighbour stealing your Wi-Fi connection or letting his dog shit on your lawn? Today there is a better solution than suffering silently with your brooding anger: leave your neighbour “a message”! Continue Reading →

Use Better Tools to Be a Better Student in 2010 [by Lifehacker]

Since we are aware at 52nd & west that many of our readers are still students or some wise people who decided to resume their studies should that be to start an MBA or finally undertake the course they’ve always dreamed of, we decided to share with you this comprehensive review made By Jason Fitzpatrick of Lifehacker on what are the must have tools and habits to be a “better” student in 2010.

Enjoy the ride. Continue Reading →

Recommended reading – Invoice Like A Pro: Examples and Best Practices [by Smashing Magazine]

Should you be a freelancer or the general manager of a big company, there are a few things about invoicing you should know or at least reconsider. Drafting an invoice for your beloved (or not) client should not only be a mere action of putting figures together to come up with a big number. They also act as a proof of your professionalism and thus require that you follow some general guidelines.

Smashing Magazine reviewed some great (and not so great) online invoicing tools, so that you can spend less time creating invoices and more time doing the things you love!

Remember that if you spent so much time and money designing your business card, which is somehow the first creative and useful thing you’ll give your client or prospect, invoices are the last thing you may exchange with them and thus just deserve the same attention and care for their design. Make them impacting and have fun designing them.


click here to access the full review

Is Workshifting In Our DNA? [by]

feeling lonlyTwo weeks ago Inga Rundquist of shared a very interesting and comprehensive review of the personality and competencies of workshifters (understand “mobile workers”), in which she details the characteristics of the modern mobile worker and the psychological challenges of mobile working itself vs office working.

A must read if  something inside you tells you that you should leave your sad little cubicle or noisy and full of juicy gossips open-space…


Is Workshifting In Our DNA?
By Inga Rundquist on October 16, 2009

“I traveled back to Iowa a few weeks ago for some meetings, and ended up workshifting out of dnastrand.jpgmy parents’ house in a small town in Eastern Iowa for a couple days. I worked side by side with my dad, who has been running German Sense, an import business for German books, music and games, out of our home for the past 10 years. It got me wondering – is the ability to work remotely something that you can learn or is it inherently part of who we are?

Before I became a Workshifter, I worked for a company that was affected by the floods that ripped through Eastern Iowa in the summer of 2008. The office was literally under water, and as a result, staffers worked remotely from their homes while the space was rebuilt. During this phase it immediately became clear that some were simply not – by temperament, psychology or personality type – wired for this type of arrangement.

Unexpected? Not really. It’s clear that certain personality traits are needed to thrive in a remote workplace. Most people would agree that Workshifters are go-getters who tend to be motivated, organized, highly adaptable, disciplined and independent. But beyond that, are there certain competencies that can be learned?

In 2007, a company called Pearn Kandola was commissioned by Cisco to explore the characteristics of the modern mobile worker and the psychological challenges of mobile working. The study, Understanding and Managing the Mobile Workforce, revealed that unlike personality traits, which are relatively stable over time, an individual’s competencies can develop and improve with experience.

The findings outlined 9 core competencies required of the mobile worker:

  1. Communication – Workshifters need to “be adaptable in the way they initiate and respond to communications.” They also need to make their messages more explicit than traditional messages and select the appropriate channel to communicate with the intended receiver. This is opposed to an office-based worker, who is surrounded by people and as a result communicates in a more natural way.
  2. Achievements and result orientation – Workshifters need to be highly self-motivated. Office workers, on the other hand, have people around them who “monitor and ‘push’ them on.”
  3. Customer focus – While office-based workers don’t tend to spend as much time facing customers, remote workers spend a lot of time “going between clients, seeking clients out and working at client premises.”
  4. Teamwork – Workshifters take part in less collaborative work than office-based workers, who tend to work predominantly in teams.
  5. Planning and organizing – Key planning skills for Workshifters include priority setting, multi-tasking and time management. Office workers, on the other hand, need to plan, “but on a more basic level and not so far in advance” because there is less risk and fewer contingencies.
  6. Commercial and business awareness – Workshifters need to be independent enough to take action when commercial opportunities arise, since there is often no one around to check with. Because of an abundance of support, office workers have more opportunity to check with others before decisions are made.
  7. Flexibility and adaptability – Office-based workers are much more likely to work in a more routine role, while Workshifters need to be able to cope with changes on a much more frequent basis.
  8. Problem solving – Workshifters are much more likely to suffer from non-work related problems (such as IT or travel) that they have to solve independently, while office workers tend to have more options for support.
  9. Building relationships – Workshifters need to make it a priority to build relationships – and trust – with clients and colleagues. For office workers this occurs more naturally due to proximity.

I highly recommend reading the full findings of this report for anyone who is thinking about becoming a Workshifter or is managing a remote workforce.”

10 useful tools and tips to help you (better) work remotely!

a happy teleworkerBeing able to work from (almost) anywhere is not a fiction any more. Technically speaking, we have the ability today to work from absolutely anywhere in the world and stay connected: should that be in the middle of a desert, somewhere over the ocean (or under its surface), or a hundred miles above, in a capsule orbiting around the earth. And as long as you can afford paying for your satellite communications, working from any of those places is not an issue. But in the real business life it would definitely be!

In my world, advertisers, software developers and programmers, PR consultants, lawyers, journalists, salesmen, photographers, analysts, and all those people who can work from anywhere just as much as their office, will use one day (if this has not be done yet) at least one of those technologies or their upgraded versions, to do their job. Once you’ll have managed to convince your boss that working from home is good for you, your productivity and his shareholders, then take a moment to review those 10 useful tips that will make your home working experience, unforgettable!

10 useful tools to help you work remotely Continue Reading →

Gizmodo Explains: How To Fix the Airlines’ Stupid Portable Gadget Rules (a must read!)

[singlepic id=102 w=480 h=360 float=center]By Wilson Rothman for Gizmodo

“If you’ve flown lately, you have probably noticed that the “portable electronics” rules are increasingly muddled. It’s time for the FAA and airlines to lift the electronics ban completely, or rewrite it to reflect modern gadgets.

The first problem is, nearly all electronics are lumped together, despite differences in their innards and the services they perform. The second problem is this constant generic request to turn them “off.” Until airlines can speak coherently about ebooks, smartphones, tablets and other traveler-friendly gadgets—and address the various states of rest between “on” and “off”—the system remains in a sphere of stupidity. Whether this is mildly annoying or potentially deadly remains to be seen.”

Read the full article on Gizmodo

Time management: the big challenge for freelance workers

[singlepic id=90 w=160 h=120 float=left]The best part about being a freelancer is having the freedom to set your own schedule and make your own rules. This, however, can also be the worst part. Without the normal structure of an office environment, many would-be freelancers find themselves wondering at the end of the day where all their time went. Getting the most out of your workday can be tough.

Cameron Chapman of Smashing Magazine, provides sixteen tips to help you better manage your time and improve your time management experience (“How to find time for…  everything!”).

Very formative indeed, even for “veteran telecommuters”.


I want to keep track of where I spend my time in: Five best time-tracking applications

read more on reducing task friction to get to task completion

Not enough? Check the Helpful hints for the home office warrior