What 2008 Taught Us
From hotels to airports to exchange rates to terminals, this was a year that defied business-travel expectations. At the end of each of the thirtysomething years that I have survived a life on the road, I inevitably reach the same conclusion: It sure has been another bizarre 12 months for business travel. Who'd have guessed that more than 80 airlines would fold in 2008, many of them destroyed by the price of oil this spring and summer? Who'd have imagined that the airlines could cut domestic seat capacity by double digits this fall and still see chairs go empty and fares drop? And who'd have thought hotels, expecting record increases in room rates in 2008, would end the year discounting lustily and mulling huge declines in 2009?