Away on Business: Those Schedule Changes
Added: (Sat Nov 20 1999)
Pressbox (Press Release) -
By Michael Conlon
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Does a business travel trip ever come off without a hitch, every appointment met and each part of an itinerary completed as planned?
A new survey seems to say it can happen that way for a fortunate few, but travelers who find themselves changing course and jumping from one agenda to another on the road are in the majority.
OAG Worldwide, which publishes airline guides, found in its annual Business Travel Lifestyle Survey of 3,000 high-flying frequent travelers that one in three said they often have to change their plans and a sizable number of others said it happens at least sometimes.
The question asked was whether the travelers had to change itineraries for any reason during the previous year, including personal or family emergencies, scrubbed appointments, meetings that ran late and flights that were delayed or canceled, according to Vickie Driver, director of integrated marketing for the company.
She said 95 percent of those surveyed admitted it happened to them at least once. In addition, one in every five said they were often hit with flight schedule disruptions.
The survey also found:
-- More travelers had carry-on baggage refused during the past year because of new airline restrictions than was the case the year before, and 40 percent of those polled said they'd change airlines if they found one that had more flexible in-the-cabin luggage policies. -- Two percent said the have been on flights that had to be diverted as a result of unruly passengers causing trouble (the so-called air rage problem).
-- The average traveler took 21 business trips during 1999 and spent 48 nights away from home during them.
Driver also commented on another interesting trend picked up in a second, broader survey of business travel, one that included those who travel by air only once or twice a year and those who use cars as their basic travel mode. That survey was done by OAG in conjunction with the Travel Industry Association of America.
It found that the amount of business travel being done on all fronts last year in the United States was about average -- a finding that she said was somewhat surprising, given the fact that videoconferences and use of the Internet would seem on their face to be reducing the need for travel.
What is happening, she said, is that technology cuts both ways.
"Business is globalizing. People are able to telecommute from home. They can live in a different state from where their office is," she said. "But that creates a kind of push for travel .. there are times when people have to get together."
"Technology has facilitated a decentralization of business which in turn makes travel necessary," she added.
In another development, members of United Airlines' Mileage Plus frequent flier program may want to check out www.ualmiles.com, a Web site that details how to buy additional miles for themselves or as gifts to others.
The cost is 2.5 cents per miles plus a 7.5 percent federal tax and a processing fee -- bringing the cost to more than the two-cent price at which airlines tend to sell miles to hotels and others who give them away as promotions.
The miles must be purchased in blocks of 1,000 with a maximum of 15,000 and the buyer, or recipient in case of gifts, must have a Mileage Plus account.
Question, complaint or pet peeve? Send them to Away on Business, co Reuters, Room 1170, 311 S. Wacker Dr., Chicago 60606. Or e-mail Mike.Conlon(at)Reuters.com using the 'at' sign on computer keyboards. We cannot promise personal replies but will try to address letters as space permits.