I was sitting on a plane waiting for take-off. A couple of passengers were a few minutes late, so we weren’t ready for our scheduled take off time. We missed our slot time with air traffic control and those few minutes delay meant we had to wait 45 minutes for the next air traffic control slot.
The taxi that was due to meet us at the airport knew we were delayed and as a result did not set off until our plane had landed. This added another 45 minutes to the original 45-minute delay.
So two people lingering in the duty-free shop for a few minutes meant we were an hour and a half late home. We’ve all been there.
Air Traffic Control let the other flights depart on time and put ours back in the queue. That’s how it goes when lots of airlines are trying to fly through the same airspace.
I find the same thing when I work with my Virtual Assistants. If I am one day late with the work I need them to do, it may be a few days or more until they can reschedule the time I need.
Your Virtual Assistant is your pilot
One of the biggest problems a VA can have is late running clients. The lovely warm and supportive relationship can lull you into thinking your VA is your personal pilot flying your own personal plane – and at economy airline prices too!
If you want to be the only passenger in a private plane you need to be paying your own personal executive assistant (and they will probably be your employee too).
Air traffic control is the ebb and flow of other clients in your VA’s business. They may all want to fly back to London on Friday, but only so many can land at once.
Your VA may have an associate (a wingman) but if you miss your slot, you miss your slot.
How to avoid missing your slot time
You don’t have to be the person screaming that your flight is delayed.
If you have an important deadline coming, figure out (with a margin for error) how much time you are going to need from your VA, how far ahead of your deadline – and pencil it in.
That’s like booking your taxi to the airport with time for traffic, delays and queues at the airport. Things can and do go wrong – so don’t leave just enough time for the journey.
Make sure your VA has everything s/he needs to get through security – you know if you turn up at the airport without your tickets or passport you can’t fly.
What do you and your VA need to set off on this journey? You won’t believe how often VAs are left saying I can’t do this urgent thing for you because you have not given me access to what I need to do it or something critical I need to do it!
Check your weight limits and hand luggage size
You know you can’t set off with absolutely everything you own without paying a lot of excess baggage fees. If you are asking your VA to do a lot of unnecessary things (or extra things you’d love but have not allowed time for) your project will go over its baggage limit/budget and you will end up paying more. If you have only paid for 15kg and you don’t have any more money – don’t turn up at the airport with 40kg and expect to be let on without paying extra.
Don’t forget the security checks
Any reputable VA is going to need to sort out a proper contract with you and take care of data security, GDPR and a few other things. It’s no good complaining about delays at security – the best thing to do is to allow adequate time for this when you are planning your journey.
Check the flight plan
If you are trying to fly to Rome it is no good getting on a plane to America. Make sure the ticket you are about to buy will take you to where you want to go. Be realistic. Two hour’s flying time will never get you from London to the USA. Some things just can’t be done.
Are you flying economy or business class?
If you bought an economy ticket you are not likely to get a seat in the business class section (nor the meals and baggage allowance that goes with it). If you shopped for the cheapest VA and bought the least possible amount of hours – you are not going to get what you would have done if you bought a business ticket. If you are not an economy kind of person – buy a more expensive ticket. Don’t get mad because the economy airline offers a no-frills service.
If you want priority-boarding and all that stuff you need to specify that and you need to be prepared to pay for it too.
Do you need to rebook your flight?
So if you know you are running late and you can’t make your flight – call and rebook. Expect to be on the next available flight. Your VA will let you know when that is. But s/he will make sure the other customers get on their flight too and will not be making everyone late. Don’t just turn up at the check-in and get angry when the flight has already gone.
Are you ready for take-off?
Your VA wants you to get it all done – you know that.
So if you have done your checks, and booked the flight that gets you there on time (and allowed a margin for error) head off on your journey. Board the plane, and relax and enjoy the journey.
Find out more about our VA hiring agreements here.