Fare trackers at American Express (which owns this magazine) say that domestic business fares-- for short-notice trips, with few or no restrictions-- jumped 39 percent between January 1996 and February 1998. Yet the average amount paid by business travelers increased by only 26 percent. Here's how companies are paying less than the published fares.

  • In Detroit, General Motors and Chrysler signed a five-year deal with Pro Air, a small low-fare airline. For a flat monthly fee, the automakers' employees can fly on business any time there is space on Pro Air to Newark, Baltimore, Indianapolis, and Philadelphia. The manufacturers stand to save millions.
  • A National Business Travel Association survey of corporate travel managers found that half expect to send fewer employees on the road, and 44 percent may require travelers to stay over a Saturday night.
  • American Express Corporate Services has forged a deal with Continental Airlines to buy a large number of seats in advance, at a discount, for travel to London. American Express then resells the seats to its business clients, passing along the savings.

On the bright side, companies are not usurping frequent-flier awards. A 1998 Runzheimer International poll found that 87 percent of the companies surveyed consider frequent-flier miles to be the property of the employee, not the company; that's up 5 percent from 1996.