Why Business Travel Is Dead, In One Simple Chart [Roundup]

News and notes from around the interweb:

  • Since leisure activity has fully returned, work transit has fallen more than 35%. That means fewer people are commuting to office, work from home at least several days a week is the current norm. Solve for the business travel equilibrium.

  • President Biden’s Plan to End Nuisance Airline and Resort Fees Is Dead on Arrival (Skift)

  • Fully autonomous passenger planes are inching closer to takeoff (HT: @crucker) We’re not there today, and ALPA won’t like it, but we’re not that for off from the second pilot in the cockpit being AI.

  • Very touching story. See the dog owner’s account for dog photos with Members of Congress, country music stars, Mark Cuban and more.

  • Kind of funny. “Must be under 120 lbs. Weight verified at check-out.” (HT: Hans)

    The similar concept, which would make sense and generate incremental revenue for the airline, would be to proactively sell empty middle seats to passengers during the checkout process. You can buy those anyway so why not market the option and sell more seats?

  • Stupid. How has Biden gone to war on fees but not this one?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. once again, WFH and business travel are not the same two things. As long as the two are conflated, it is inevitable to come up with the wrong conclusion.

    Further, a growing number of employers are requiring employees to come into the office 2-4 days/week which still allows for the possibility that commutes could be down considerably.

    And public transit rides are not the same thing as WFH. After dozens of videos of people getting attacked on NYC subways or in stations, people are undoubtedly shifting away from mass transit

  2. I think there is considerable distance between reduced business travel, or different forms of business travel, and “dead” business travel.

  3. @Tim Dunn you miss the point WFH and fewer days in office reduce the need for consultants to work on site for clients week after week, and reduce the window for coordinating fly outs plus employees are asked to travel less when working from home at least part time.

  4. @Gary I totally get that, but those numbers represent the total workforce- not just consultants. Not clear at all we can make inferences about sub populations based on the overall trend.

  5. WFH and business travel are not the same thing Gary.

    I’ve seen my office maybe 25 times since March 2020. I’m travelling (away from my home city) for work as much as as I was in March 2019.

  6. Not exactly on point but related to business travel. First of all I know I’ll sound like an old out of touch guy but here goes. I know much business travel is deemed “Monday to Thursday” consultant travel. Don’t get me wrong I was a director of a large system integrator to wrap up my career in IT and know that is the norm. However, consultants today have no idea how good they have it with that travel schedule (for those that are still traveling that is).

    When I was with Price Waterhouse in the late 80s-early 90s helping run a national consulting practice our standard was Sunday-Friday. Clients expected us in the office first thing Monday and we never left until after lunch on Friday. I fully realize today’s schedule is a better work/life balance but those were the norms at that time and I did it for 2 1/2 years before following the career path of most consultants – I went to work for a client. Yes we had non-compete back then but PW never stopped you from working for a client. They considered you a “friend of the firm” and someone that would likely buy additional services in the future. IMHO more companies today should take that viewpoint instead of putting up barriers when people will leave anyway if they are so inclined.

  7. Gary
    Reduced is not dead
    Multiple airlines have said that there are different travel patterns including a mix of leisure and business. Airlines say domestic business travel is nearly fully recovered which means with inflation that the number of trips is down about 20 percent which is far from dead

  8. Business travel is down from 2019 by some amount. But airlines are seeing and expect another increase in demand in 2023, and prices are well above 2019 levels, resulting in record revenues. Travel as a whole is clearly booming. Isn’t it a GOOD thing that the travel industry is apparently less reliant on business travel than thought?

  9. I get that planes are controlled for the most part by the auto pilot, however I would not fly if a plane is totally controlled by AI or controlled at a remote location.

  10. @Tim Dunn is correct. If everybody worked two days from home, rush hour public transit use would fall 40% without any change in business air travel.

    The proposition behind this article is erroneous.

  11. OPM flyers need to stay home, those 30k a year sales people are clogging up lounges everywhere, because they are “elite” when their bossman pays for one or two work trips.

  12. Gary – I’d appreciate it if you could let the ~500 people in line every weekday afternoon at ATL PreCheck that business travel is dead. Would make my life a lot easier.

  13. While WFH might diminish the number of transit rides taken it diminishes revenue less than those numbers indicate. Many (most?) transit systems have monthly passes or caps on charges (e.g. all rides over 10 a week are free, etc.).

  14. Completely illogical conclusion that WFH means less business travel by looking at reductions in use of public transportation systems. Further, clients still often prefer consultants to be onsite even if employees are working from home some days. Consulting management also prefers that as it’s more likely to help in finding other work to add on or to pitch. And it’s not tourists who are creating waiting for upgrade lists of 25 or more names displaying at gates.

  15. @anna
    I fly OPM 5-6 times a year and spend hours at lounges
    the real problem is entitled Cun-ts like you who think they are special and stay in the bar drinking bloody mary’s at 10 am

  16. The consultants for our firm actually travel much less to the office and other locations than employees who are remote however travel remains down post-Covid for both.

    Managers who can think outside the box may see the real value in face to face meetings with downstream customers (sales in non-sales fields), but ticket prices remain high and until the economy improves, business travel will be much slower in many industries.

  17. It clearly says: “PUBLIC TRANSIT” which includes BUS, SUBWAY, and COMMUTER RAIL.

    Air travel is NOT considered as public transit.

  18. I think Gary should take his writing elsewhere…. It is the media that creates recessions and plants false data into the consumer mind. Gary’s waiting would best fit the Fiction section of borders Bookstore. Then again…business travel is dead as I sit in a sold out hotel due to a convention.

  19. Business travelers commuting on public transit is directly related to business travel! HILARIOUS!

  20. I didn’t think you could bring german shepards onto the plane. What service does the animal provide besides personal protection?

  21. @Boraxo German Shepherds are the most common breed trained as seeing eye dogs, therefore very common on board commercial aircraft.

  22. Business travel isn’t dead

    Frivolous Business travel is dead

    Let’s me honest a LOT of business travel was boondoggles

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