Who Has It Better? Business or Leisure Travelers

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There was an interesting USA Today article about travel habits and whether people travel for business or leisure and who has it better.

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Per the article, Business Travelers:

These travelers often fly in first or business class for work (or automatically upgrade to these classes), and tend to purchase more last-minute tickets. Their benefits include:

• New jets, cabin amenities and better perks: Many U.S. coast-to-coast flights now boast lie-flat seats even in business class, and look for Etihad’s new Residence class(in 2015) featuring a personal shower and a butler.

• Better benefits: Improved chances at awards flights for high paying passengers on more loyalty programs, including American’s AAvantage and Delta’s SkyMiles programs.

But there are also some challenges:

• Higher airfares: At least one of the few successful airfare hikes of 2014 was aimed squarely at business travelers; two others hit U.S.-Canada routes.

• More time on the job: Thanks to relaxed rules allowing the use of electronic devices on flights from takeoff to landing, coupled with more Wi-Fi availability on more flights, there’s no excuse not to get some work done.

and Leisure Travelers:

Cheaper fares overall: Even in summer’s peak season, base prices have only risen an average of about 2% since last year.

• Hike resistant: Airlines have recorded numerous fails as they attempted overall ticket price hikes. The bottom line is the leisure class will not buy if tickets get too high.

And here’s where they lose out:

• Loss of routes: JetBlue and Virgin America are the latest to cut routes, in both cases to free up planes for more lucrative markets; JetBlue for Washington, D.C., and Virgin America for Dallas’ Love Field.

• Fewer freebies: Frontier’s new Economy class requires passengers to pay for seat selection, carry-on bags, and even sodas and water.

Bottom Line

Do you think business travelers have it better or leisure travelers?


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  1. BS generalizations. As much as I’ve traveled for business the past 10+ years, I’ve yet to have an employer willing to pay for first class domestically or business class internationally — even when I traveled between the US and India. The best I was able to do was get reimbursed for the cost of a coach ticket and then use my own personal miles to get into business class. It might be different for executives, but that seems pretty standard policy for “individual contributors” like myself.

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