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Savvy Executive Traveler Uses HP Palmtop to Navigate Airlines

One of our readers, who asked to remain anonymous, sent us an article from a recent issue of Forbes ASAP. We can't quote the entire article in this sidebar, so if you subscribe to ASAP, you might want to look for the original article.

The article is a profile of how Bob Conti, COO and senior vice president of The Alexander Group, a sales and marketing consultancy based in San Francisco, uses his Palmtop in his travels.

Bob claims to spend four days a week flying to client meetings across the United States and clocked 250,000 miles in the air last year. He thinks of traveling as a strategy game and his playing pieces include a cell phone, a PDA, a laptop, and an old-fashioned paper directory, the OAG Pocket Flight Guide.

From experience, Bob knows when the airlines are trying to pull a fast one. "Just last week," says Conti, "I'm on an 8:30 a.m. flight out of San Francisco to Phoenix. We're waiting to board and they announce that the pilot is stuck in traffic on the Bay Bridge! This is what's known as the Big Lie!"

Conti pulls out his OAG guide that lists every flight (including the ones your travel agent won't tell you about) for 800 airlines worldwide and locates the next outbound flight. "I call my travel agent on my Nokia 6160 cell phone, book the flight, and I'm in Phoenix in time for the meeting."

Conti's Rule of Engagement No. 1: Always carry the OAG. (Bob should talk with the airline pilots who have put the OAG on their Palmtops. He'd have one less thing to carry.)

To get the best seat on any given plane, he's recorded the complete seating chart of 25 airplanes in his HP 200LX PDA. "I've got the entire United fleet in here," he says, tapping the little black box. "I've got Delta, America West, hmm, who else?..."

Conti's Rule of Engagement No. 2: Never, ever use a client's name in a document aboard a plane. Airplanes are public places. "Type in xxx in place of the name and do a global search and replace later in the hotel room," he says.

Conti's Rule of Engagement No. 3: Block out onboard distractions. "For years I would carry Walkman headphones with me. When I wanted to work I'd pop on the headphones, and no one would bother me. I didn't have a Walkman, just the headphones."

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