Subject: One Traveller's Perspective on the Basics of Business Travel
Hello, Mae. Welcome to the Travelzine! I am pleased to hear that SOMEBODY is travelling for business. I was a very frequent flyer for a number of years but my employer has instituted a travel ban to save money. I had grown quite accustomed to being away from home for 100- 200 nights a year. Now I have had to re-learn what is like to live at home.

You asked for the basics of business travel by plane since you have not travelled much. Here are some of my thoughts:

1) You have to follow your company's policy on making travel arrangements. If they say that you have to fly a certain airline or use a specific travel agent or can only spend $X, then you have to abide by those rules. After all, you will be accountable to your management for how the company's money is spent.

2) That said, if the company has no stated policy for questions that you have, determine what you want the answer to be. Then ask your manager or the corporate travel folks for permission to do what you want to do. For example, you may want to extend a visit to a desirable location. I am sure that the folks in the snowbound Northeast US would love to have an extended trip to California right now. Will the company pay for the hotel and rental car the extra days if you can save them big money on airfare by staying over a Saturday night? Or you may want to stop at a second destination on the way home to visit friends or family. Perhaps the fare is the same or less than it would have been with a straight round-trip. Even if the fare is slightly more, perhaps you could pay for the small difference. Does the company have a problem if you do this?

3) You can amass a nice quantity of frequent flyer miles and hotel points if you focus on one airline and one hotel chain. I am partial to the Marriott chain for business travel because they have so many properties. Most of my airline miles are on American but that is because my employer has a contract with them for business travel. It is a rare company indeed that will not let you keep the miles you earn on business travel. Frequent flyer benefits are great! Once you reach an elite level (over 25,000 miles per year), you can bypass the regular check in and go to the much shorter elite level lines. You can also use your perks to upgrade to business class. I also value the ability to board the plane early and claim the much-sought overhead space for my travel bag.

I have rambled on for a while. I hope that this gets you started. If you have other more specific questions, please ask. The Travelzine is a great forum for sharing practical travel advice.

Mark Los Angeles