Whenever I travel for business, I do the following:
- Make sure all my belongings are on my person
- Fly well-dressed just in case
- Be nice to the flight attendants
Everyone learns this lesson the hard way once when they fly for business: don't count on any checked bags being there when you arrive.
If you have anything you need for your business meeting, be sure to put it in your carry-on luggage. If it is a longer trip, you can pack 1-2 days of the necessities (underwear, socks, undershirts) in your carry-on just in case you need to get by on that before your luggage finds its way from a detour to Houston, TX for reasons beyond your comprehension.
If you are meeting the day you arrive, even if you think you will have time to change you never know what the air travel system will throw at you. Perhaps it's a volcano in Iceland. Maybe the workers in Charles de Gaulle airport have decided to have a strike. Maybe a herd of cows has decided to occupy the runway in Pokara Nepal. Ice in Istanbul. Flights get delayed, and sometimes that time you were counting on doesn't end up existing.
Whenever I fly directly to a meeting that day, I wear whatever I plan to wear for that meeting on the plane. It isn't the most comfortable way to travel, but I'd rather bear the discomfort on the flight than show up wearing jeans and a t-shirt because I didn't have time to change before the meeting.
Be Nice to Flight Attendants
Airlines are very used to business travelers. When you fly a lot, you realize that flight attendants are kind people who will generally be accommodating if you treat them with respect and ask nicely. If you are going to have a suit jacket and an overcoat, even if you aren't flying in business class, you can ask at the counter prior to boarding for them to hang it up for you. Honesty and a smile go a long way:
Hello, I'm going to be flying with you to X today. I have never flown for business before and I have a meeting right as I land. I want to make sure I look sharp, so is there any way I can hang up my suit jacket and overcoat so it doesn't get wrinkled during the flight? I would really appreciate it.
Even if you aren't flying in business, the flight attendants are likely to say yes. By telling them prior to boarding, they can do it in such a way that the passengers around you don't think you're getting special treatment. Just be sure to thank them afterwards and it should be okay.
If you are still nervous, just bring a suit bag with you for your jacket and overcoat so that they don't get horribly wrinkled. Board early so that you are ensured overhead bin space as well. You can usually check how full a flight will be online the day before, and judge how you want to handle it accordingly.