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7 ways to save money on business travel

4 min read

28 December 2014

Travelling to visit distributors and research new markets can be an expensive investment for a small business – here’s the Real Business guide to cutting down the costs of business travel.

As a growing business, keeping costs down is an important consideration and can be the difference between slipping into the red or remaining in the black at the end of the year.

Business travel is one area that, if a little attention is paid to it, can have the fat trimmed from it and money saved.

Pay for excess baggage before you get to the airport

If you want to take a second piece of hold luggage make sure you pay before you get to the airport, or they’ll charge you more at the desk. Check the weight concept if you think you’re going to go over your allowance. 

For example, British Airways uses a piece concept with most economy fares including one piece of luggage weighing a maximum of 23 kilos, whereas Emirates does a weight concept, with most economy fares permitting up to 30 kilos – but you can take up to five individual bags, and any excess luggage is based on increments over that amount. 

Collect your points

These days most air mile plans are multi-carrier, with different groups of airlines working under single schemes such as One World and Star Alliance. Points can be used to buy flights or to upgrade from one class of service to another, but upgrade options can be limited to a certain number of seats per flight.

Saturday night charges in the US

If you’re travelling to the US, staying for a Saturday night can cut the costs of a ticket. Airlines have minimum and a maximum stay requirements, and they’ll hike up the prices if you stay midweek and don’t take in the weekend. This is true of other long-haul destinations, so it’s worth playing around with the days you fly on.

Changing the date on a return flight

If you want to change the date or time on a return flight do it if after you’ve already taken the outbound journey. This means you’ll have access to the historic fare, rather than having to upgrade the whole ticket at today’s price (and if the same class of service isn’t available you’d have to upgrade that to).

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Always check with the airlines

It’s easier to search for cheap fares on websites like SkyScanner, which checks dozens of providers. However, it’s always worth double-checking with the airline’s own website in case they have any exclusive deals available. 

Flexible fare are rarely a good deal

Flexible fares are expensive and it’s often makes more sense to pay penalty charges for changing tickets with restrictions, rather than paying the extra for a flexible fare. The savings vary between airlines. 

For example, a domestic British Airways fare has a £60 change fee, but it could cost as little as £100, whereas a fully flexible fare could be over £500. A long haul flight could be £600, a fully flexible ticket £1,800 for the same journey, but the change fee’s only £100. However, it’s worth remembering the flexible tickets permit cancellations. 

Airlines can offer transit hotels

Some airlines offer transit hotels if you have to stay where they’re hub airport is for more than eight hours, depending on certain terms and conditions. Most of the time it’s buried on their website, but it’s worth asking when you phone to book or searching for transit hotels into on website. 

Each airline has one hub and those offering these deals include; Emirates (Dubai), Etihad Airways (Abu Dhabi), Korean Airlines (Incheon, Seoul) and Ethiopian airlines (Addis Ababa).