Non-Facetious Questions About Business Travelers

JFK-CDG 8/29-30

For a variety of work-related reasons, I’ve had to do research recently on the airline industry. In doing so, I’ve noticed that two categories of travelers are mentioned:

1. All travelers

2. Business travelers

Why? What about us in the cheap seats? And how are business travelers categorized, anyway? Are they the people you walk past to get to your crap seat? Are they people who pay for their tickets with corporate cards, or through a corporate agency? Are they people who pay a certain minimum fare? Does this category include everyone who is not in economy, i.e., those in first class as well? Is it how often they travel?

And are they really bringing in that much more money per segment than the rest of us in the cheap seats?And if they are, then what is the balance between keeping a minimum number of people happy because they spent more per ticket, versus pissing off a much, much larger number of people who paid less and who also probably travel less? Is it because if a company drops your airline you lose more revenue than those of us who are just going to keep flying your airline anyway because we’re cheap-asses?

I understand that if you’re forking over a bunch of money to travel you deserve extra amenities. But from all the reading I’ve done recently, it seems that ONLY business travelers are being considered when designing, implementing or expanding airline, airplane and airport functions.

I also understand that my own personal flying experience has not taken me to popular business destinations. When I’ve flown to New York or Rome or Paris on long-haul flights, I’m with a plane full of tourists so my viewpoint is skewed. Perhaps the Frankfurt-Tokyo route is nothing but laptops and spreadsheets. I don’t know.

I just find it hard to believe that they’re pumping that much more money into the airline industry than the rest of us. Does anyone have any answers or explanations for me?

12 thoughts on “Non-Facetious Questions About Business Travelers

  1. Hi Dear,
    1) Business Travelers pay more than the rest of us…although after the recent dire economic status it stands to be seen if the businesses have not learned that they can have their peeps transported from A to B much cheaper than business class.
    2)As a frequent business traveler my self in a former live, I can tell you that traveling for business is a poor way of wasting your time in itself….let it be if your boss or your client forces you to travel like the rest of us: More so as the carriers are treating the rest of us just as cattle underway to the slaughterhouse..Even worse after 9/11….as fumbled and groped cattle ….therefor there still might be an upside to travel business class and pay a bit more.
    3) Actually I’m so spoiled that I would only fly private business if I would have the chance. You should try it:-)

    • Oh, I have flown on private jets and in business and first classes. It’s totally the way to go.

      I know that they pay more than the rest of us, but the rest of us COMBINED? Per flight? If you add up how much business travelers pay and compare that total to the total paid by all of us in the cheap seats, is it that much more??

  2. There’s a problem with the label, as usual (she says, in her annoying know it all tone.) I’ve traveled FOR BUSINESS in a coach seat. I’ve traveled for leisure/personal reasons in a business class seat. I was not a business travel just because I was traveling in what they call business class, no more than I was a non-business traveler when I was going to Dublin for work.

    I’m with you on this — I wish HALF the energy that’s pumped in to jacking up business CLASS services went in to improving coach.

    • In the comments, Bart left some pretty sad stats that only enforce the idea that the airlines could give a rat’s ass.

    • Thanks! I had my camera out already as I was obsessively photographing the seat-back monitor that was showing us land on the tarmac with tiny cameras hooked up to the outside of the plane.

  3. Most of the time, I’m a business traveler. But I fly coach. My company flies everyone coach, even internationally. And I know I’m not alone because most of the time, I’m sitting next to another business traveler who is also flying coach. (I’d put this at 60/40.) That being said, I don’t fly the popular tourist routes that much.

    For those companies that do fly their employees business class, I’d question their bottom line. Because seriously…how can you conciously decide that it is in the best interests of shareholders to consistently pay $8,000 to $12,000 for a ticket (okay, maybe $4000 if you get a good deal) that only costs $600 to $1000 in coach?

    When I do fly business for business, it’s either because
    …I’ve been smart enough to buy a full-fare economy ticket and I’ve used miles to upgrade
    –or–
    …My status as a frequent business traveler in coach has earned me enough miles to be automatically upgraded

    I’ll also state that on at least four occasions, I’ve seen operational upgrades where the person being upgraded didn’t deserve the upgrade anymore than anyone else. (Because I asked the person who had been upgraded.) They were just more “SFU.” (Suitable for Upgrade…meaning more well-dressed and more business traveler-looking. And I hate to say it, a white male. )

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