A new year has dawned and with it, a blank slate for business travelers hitting the road. This year though, the game has changed dramatically. Both Delta and United will now be both awarding miles and assigning elite status based on how much a passenger spends with the airline, shifting benefits away from the casual traveler and towards the high-spend, frequent flyer. For the heaviest of business travelers, this is great news. They’ll now earn miles faster and will achieve elite status faster than casual travelers. Frugal or infrequent business travelers, however, may not like the changes as much. For them, flying on American or Alaska, two airlines with distance-based elite status and awards is still a strong option.
This year also brings big improvements to the in-cabin experience. JetBlue’s Mint product is now fully operational on select routes, providing transcontinental travelers with spacious, industry leading cabins including lie flat seats, TV and WiFi. American is also now offering the only three-class service from coast to coast with lavish first and business class cabins (both with lie-flat seats) and upgraded Gogo ATG-4 internet. Later this year, Delta is also kicking off its cabin relaunch with quilted business class seats and a new fresh look.
The Best Airlines For Business Travelers In 2015
Based on their loyalty program and hard product, many consider Delta to be a strong contender for the best business carrier. “They run a tight ship, have upgraded planes, lounges, have Gogo WiFi, lots of frequency out of the busiest business hubs and reward their biggest spenders with the most miles,” John DiScalia, the travel expert behind Johnnyjet.com tells me. Seth Miller, who runs the popular Wandering Aramean blog agrees. “Assuming that Delta can continue to deliver high levels of on-time flights and low levels of cancellations it is hard to argue against putting it atop the list for business travelers. The broad deployment of in-flight WiFi on Delta’s planes is a nice benefit as well.”
Those who travel less frequently and are less concerned about miles or elite status may want to consider the product over the mileage or elite program. Most experts agree that JetBlue’s Mint has one of the best transcontinental cabins, though Virgin America’s product geared for shorter-haul business class has been widely lauded. “Those business travelers lucky enough to be based in a city with service from Virgin America should take advantage of the carriers stellar inflight product and outstanding service,” says Chris McGinnis from TravelSkills.com. ”It has nice new planes, decent legroom, good inflight entertainment and 100% WiFi, all of which is now Gogo’s faster ATG-4 variety”
For most, however, the biggest consideration in choosing a partner airline has to do with the routes served from their home city. After all, it doesn’t make sense to select one particular airline when another controls 98% of the volume in that particular city. Travelers in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles thus have the benefit of carefully considering the above criteria and picking an airline. For much of the rest of the country, as Mr. Miller puts it, “the short answer is ‘whatever airline actually flies where you’re going.’”
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