Corporate Business Travel Picks Up Again

An airline industry that’s for years been casting an anxious eye down the road to see if any business travelers, the cream of its trade, step up at all, is finally being rewarded for its patience. With the recession finally receding, corporate business travel is finally picking up. It is a sign of how strong the revival is that business class travel isn’t just attracting rich corporations. Small business owners and executives, sales reps and everyone else who travels on business have begun choosing business class all over again.Today, cautious travel policies born of an instinct of self-preservation in businesses all over for years, have all but disappeared. No longer are executives required to check to see if they could use videoconferencing in lieu of travel. And when they do travel, no longer do they have to restrict themselves to premium economy and three-star hotels. The airlines for their part, have thrown themselves open to the corporate business travel crowd. Airplanes have new $150,000 business class seats, special spa-like business lounges and superior menus on board. In fact, getting a free upgrade to first class can be quite difficult for any business traveler these days; first class is usually clogged with paying vice presidents. Companies today are beginning to realize that perhaps they cut back too much during the recession.Still, not everything is hunky-dory in the hopes that airlines have for the corporate business travel. With double-digit unemployment figures, the country still isn’t where it needs to be economically – even if Wall Street seems to be booming. Flight reservations have plateaued more or less. Sales have been growing by a mere couple of percentage points each month. And booming fuel prices are beginning to put a tenuous resurgence at risk. Airlines, buoyed by high demand from paying business-class customers, have used the confidence it has lent them in raising prices for economy class flyers as well.And just to be on the safe side, the airlines are building up their services as much as they can to attract the business custom. One of the more innovative services they have in mind has to do with the use of location tracking. With these airline apps installed on your smart phone, if you happen to be stuck in traffic so that you won’t be able to make it, the airline will automatically put you on the next flight. If they are about to close the boarding gates and there you are, rushing down the escalators, the app will be able to tell them where exactly you are and alert the staff manning the gate to hold on for just a minute longer. Things could get really exciting.