Business travel expected to match, surpass 2009 levels

NEW YORK Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:49pm EST

A view of business class seating inside the Airbus A380 parked outside hangar 19 at JFK International Airport in New York March 19, 2007. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

A view of business class seating inside the Airbus A380 parked outside hangar 19 at JFK International Airport in New York March 19, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Business travel in 2010 will match or surpass last year's levels and more executives will be opting for first class seats, according to a survey.

A poll of 227 travel experts showed that nearly 40 percent thought booking levels should be similar to 2009, while 28 percent expected them to be better. Only 12 predicted bookings would decrease.

"We're seeing that business travel clients continue to book the same level of hotel accommodations as in the past, but we're also seeing a noteworthy percentage of Travel Leaders business travel experts indicating a fair number of their clients are now starting to fly in business or in first class," said Roger E. Block, the president of Travel Leaders Franchise Group.

"That being said, many clients are still opting for economy class airline tickets as they seek to maximize value at every turn" he added in a statement.

More than a third of the experts questioned in the Travel Leaders poll said they had 11 percent or more bookings in first or business class, and 53 percent indicated between one and 10 percent of their clients were traveling "up front."

Business travelers were booking domestic travel two weeks or less before their departure date for domestic travel and one to three week international business, according to the poll.

Most tourists traveling internationally book their flights eight weeks or more before their departure.

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