July 01, 2002
Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio July 2002 Current Issue

On Travel

By Sarah J.F. Braley


Survey reveals frustration over airline pricing&The best places to buy travel on the Web

Start making sense. In May, the Radnor, Pa.-based Business Travel Coalition ( initiated a study to learn how the frequent business traveler views the current state of the airline industry. The BTC, whose mission is to influence public policy in the business travel industry on behalf of the consumer, surveyed 403 people who purchase a minimum of 12 roundtrip airline tickets a year. The results revealed a dissatisfied group of flyers who are particularly frustrated with the arbitrary way airline tickets are priced. Half of the respondents do not understand the process; 33 percent “somewhat” understand how airlines price tickets, and only 17 percent completely understand it. Fully 87 percent do not embrace the airfare structure.

Among other findings, 73 percent cited expensive airfares as an important or very important reason for continued cutbacks in air travel this year. In fact, 39 percent of those surveyed have replaced some airline travel with trips by car or train.

In all, about 37 percent of respondents said they haven’t lost confidence in the reliability of the U.S. air transportation system, while 46 percent have lost some confidence.

Online caveat emptor. Consumer Reports Travel Letter’s June 2002 edition, in conjunction with the company’s new partner, Consumer WebWatch, examined the six largest online travel sites to see which ones give the best quotes and service.

Comparing Cheap Tickets (, Expedia (, OneTravel (, Orbitz (, TravelNow ( and Travelocity (, the consumer watchdogs concluded that travelers need to comparison shop to get the best rates, then check with Southwest Airlines’ Web site for deals, since its fares are not represented on any of the examined sites.

The study did conclude that while Expedia had the most low fares, Travelocity offered the best low fares with viable flight choices, as well as the best booking tools. For customer service and privacy and security policies, again Expedia and Travelocity excelled. Orbitz also scored well but was consistently edged out by the other two.

Citing the technological superiority of the top three Web sites, CRTL did not recommend the smaller sites at all, unless a flyer is looking for deeply discounted and nonrefundable fares.

The newsletter is available to PC users from NewsStand ( for $3.95; a yearly subscription costs $29.

Miles to go. Want to make your best offer for a vacation package? Better yet, how about bidding those unused airline miles? Continental Airlines and eBay now allow Continental OnePass members to bid on sporting events, VIP performing arts experiences and Continental Airlines Vacations using frequent flyer miles. The goods are posted online at

Among the items available on June 10 were tickets to Britney Spears concerts and a suite at Cleveland’s Jacobs Field for a game between the Indians and the New York Yankees. Continental Vacations packages also are up for bid on eBay’s travel site ( for purchase with cash.

City bests. New from DK Publishing are Eyewitness Top 10 Travel Guides ($9.95;, featuring the best a city has to offer. For instance, in the London edition, the guide lists the top 10 exhibits at the British Museum, 10 ways to experience royal London, 10 great walks and itineraries, the 10 best hotels for every budget and more.

In addition to London, the series includes guides to Barcelona, Berlin, Hong Kong, Las Vegas, New York, Orlando, Paris, Provence and the Côte d’Azure, Rome, Tuscany and Venice. The company plans to publish six new titles each quarter.

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