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ARCHIVED  August 1, 1997

How to find the best business airfare

When making business travel arrangements, the three most important words to remember are: Book in advance. The second most important piece of advice is to include a Saturday-night stay in travel plans. These two simple recommendations can almost always save business travelers, as well as leisure travelers, more than 50 percent off airfares.

But the nature of business travel is usually last-minute, and quick. Many times, a Saturday-night stay is simply not feasible, and booking three weeks in advance is just out of the question.

There are a variety of options for business travelers to save money, and still make last-minute plans.First off: Regional airlines such as Frontier and Northwestern usually offer less-expensive fares than United and American.
But, big airlines should not be crossed off travel itineraries entirely. United’s Pass Plus and American’s AAirpass programs are designed specifically for the last-minute business traveler. Individuals or companies can pre-purchase blocks of miles at a locked-in rate of 40 cents per mile. After each trip, the mileage is deducted from the pre-paid block.
These programs work well for executives traveling to nearby destinations such as Phoenix or Salt Lake City. Frequent business trips to Boston or New York from Denver would not be cost-effective under these programs.
Most travel agencies now work with special computer software programs that search for the lowest airfares for specific times and dates as well as the least-expensive routing options. Many agencies also work with organizations called ticket consolidators that buy airline tickets in bulk. Consolidated tickets are significantly discounted.
When booking flights, business travelers – and leisure travelers – should always ask about low-rate time-specific flights as well as connecting-flight options. Direct flights might save time, but connecting flights will save money. Also, if time permits, using the Colorado Springs Airport might be less expensive than Denver International Airport.
Additionally, ask about lower fares at cities with coterminals – cities with more than one airport. For example, flying into Newark Airport, which is only about 20 minutes from New York City, is almost always less expensive than LaGuardia or JFK airports.
For business travelers who frequent the same city often, buying back-to-back tickets is another option. Back-to-back tickets are two round-trip tickets that both include Saturday-night stays. One pair of tickets originates from Denver, the other from the destination city. This way, a business traveler can use half of each round-trip ticket, without staying over a Saturday night.
Even if the business traveler makes only one trip, he or she will still save money. Two round-trip tickets that include Saturday-night stays are less expensive than one round-trip airfare without a Saturday-night stay.

When making business travel arrangements, the three most important words to remember are: Book in advance. The second most important piece of advice is to include a Saturday-night stay in travel plans. These two simple recommendations can almost always save business travelers, as well as leisure travelers, more than 50 percent off airfares.

But the nature of business travel is usually last-minute, and quick. Many times, a Saturday-night stay is simply not feasible, and booking three weeks in advance is just out of the question.

There are a variety of options for business travelers to save money, and still make last-minute…

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