December 10 2008 by Chris McGinnis
Every year at about this time, pundits and prognosticators produce their annual outlooks for the coming year. And since blogging is the newest form of punditry and prognostication, here's what your favorite business travel blogger is seeing in his crystal ball for 2009.
Lower prices: Declines in demand along with tanking jet fuel prices will result in some of the lowest airfares we have seen since 9/11. If you've got business trips scheduled for January, typically one of the slowest months of the year for travel, you'll enjoy astonishingly low airfares, hotel and rental car rates. If you're driving, gas prices will almost certainly stay below $2 per gallon until we see a light at the end of the tunnel for the economy.
Better customer service: Travel providers can only lower rates so much. Beyond that, they are really going to turn on the charm. Business travelers in particular should expect the royal treatment as suppliers hope to snag our patronage--which tends to be much more loyal and consistent than what they get from the leisure crowd. (Tip: if you are currently or expect to be a frequent customer, don't be shy about letting that fact be known.)
Less crowded airports: Remember the wicked tales of hours-long waits to clear airport security? While those images are burned in the minds of most Americans, the reality is that the average wait time is now less than 15 minutes, according to the TSA.
This is going to be the year of the big ASK. If you want something, you need to ASK for it. And now more than in recent years, it's more likely that you will get it. So, ASK for that upgrade...if there is space available, you might get it--and get it for free.