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Executive Travel | ON THE MOVE / MICHAEL CONLON

Most Fliers Take Bonus Miles Personally

May 08, 1996|MICHAEL CONLON | Michael Conlon is a freelance writer who covers business travel issues for Reuters

The vast majority of business travelers see frequent-flier points as their own property--and not their employer's--but a surprising number of them may be willing to cash in the points for additional company travel.

That's one of the findings in a poll of more than 2,000 international business travelers conducted for Official Airline Guides.

The survey found that 23% of those questioned always or sometimes use the points for free business flights, even though the vast majority of those polled--more than 80%--said they'd prefer to spend the points for pleasure rather than profit.

Some of those who do use mileage credit in business pursuits may be self-employed, of course, or the heads of corporations.

"In general, older travelers working at director level for smaller companies are least likely to be bothered whether their employer grabs the perks or not--possibly because they themselves are the boss," the report said.

*

The poll found the vast majority of travelers see frequent flier points as their own property: 82% among the U.S. residents and 64% among those from Britain and Hong Kong. Germans cared the least about whether they or their company got the points.

The survey also uncovered several travel-related cultural divisions:

* British business travelers are "most likely to be found demanding a free drink in the executive lounge and wishing they had their feet up at home. They are . . . the least bothered about whether the plane turns up on time. . . . When they are propping up the bar, the last thing on their mind is sending a fax."

* The French "are the least likely to complain about neighbors during the flight, the most adept at striking up a friendship with the person in the next seat and the most conscientious at being charming to the check-in staff in order to get a flight upgrade."

* German business travelers "are the least concerned about putting home and family first and the most anxious to tow the company line on travel policy. . . . Factors such as punctuality, modern aircraft and smooth check-in really count [but] the Germans are . . . most interested in enjoying leisure time."

* U.S. business travelers do more business traveling than anyone else, prize convenience above all else and "are just stir-fry crazy about joining frequent-flier programs and keeping the perks for themselves." They are also the most likely to ask for and get flight upgrades.

* The most work-oriented business travelers are those from Singapore. They are the most likely to haul out a laptop in flight, the least interested in being back at home and second only to U.S. travelers in the number of trips taken.

Michael Conlon is a freelance writer who covers business travel issues for Reuters. If you have experiences to share or suggestions for Executive Travel, please write: Executive Travel, Business Editorial, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053, fax (213) 237-7837 or e-mail to business@latimes.com

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The Perks of Being a Very Frequent Flier

For a business executive who flies tens of thousands hours a year, airline loyalty can pay off. Very frequent fliers are rewarded with upgrades and bonus miles and very special personalized treatment. But frequent-flier programs are not created equal. The following is a list of some airlines' elite-level programs.

Airline program: American AAdvantage

Minimum: 25,000 qualifying miles per calendar year or 30 gold qualifying segments (actual miles flown, when applicable on American, American Eagle, Canadian Airlines, Midway, Midway Connection and Reno Air

Benefits: 255 mileage bonus for flights on American and its member airlines; complimentary upgrade stickers for every 10,000 miles flown; up to 75,000 threshold bonus miles a year; preferred check-in, boarding and seating.

Airline program: Delta SkyMiles

Minimum: 25,000 base miles flown in one calendar year or 30 segments or five transoceanic segments (excluding Hawaii) on Delta or Delta Connection.

Benefits: 25% mileage bonus, six free one-class 800-mile segment upgrades; preferred boarding and seating; special check-in; waived blackout dates; priority waiting list; special toll-free member service number; award redemption by fax.

Airline program: United Mileage Plus

Minimum: 25,000 actual miles flown in one calendar year on United, Shuttle by United or United Express

Benefits: 25% mileage bonus for every flight and up to 100,000 miles in threshold bonuses; ability to use upgrades and make 24-hour advance upgrade reservations on any published fare; once complimentary 1,000-mile and two 500-mile upgrade certificates for every 10,000 paid miles flown; preferred check-in, boarding and seating; mileage accrual unlimited for Mileage Plus First Card

Airline program: Northwest WorldPerks

Minimum: 25,000 qualifying miles flown (500 minimum per segment) in a calendar year on Northwest, NW Airlink or KLM

Benefits: 25% mileage bonus; threshold bonuses up to 55,000 miles based on flight activity; four complimentary 500-mile first-class upgrade certificates on enrollment and four more for every 10,000 miles flown

Source: Official airlines guide

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