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Old 01-14-2003, 02:07 PM   #1
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Airlines Test Cheaper Business Fares

Airlines Test Cheaper Business Fares

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Alternate business fares refer to nonrefundable tickets that must be purchased within 10 days of travel. The minimum one-night stay requirement excludes Saturday nights. The fares also carry a $100 change fee.
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The initiative is also intended to steer business travelers away from rock-bottom, advance-purchase fares aimed at leisure travelers and away from low-fare airlines -- both of which gained popularity during the economic downturn.
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Northwest Airlines began attacking the problem in February 2000, launching BizFlex fares, its version of alternate business fares. Spokesman Kurt Ebenhoch said the BizFlex fares extend to all of the carrier's routes and have "grown more and more popular," but he would not say whether the airline has noticed a revenue boost as a result.

In fall 2002, American Airlines, the nation's largest carrier, lowered the price of tickets bought at the last minute by as much as 40 percent, although the changes affected fewer than 1 percent of all routes.

Last week, United Airlines, which is restructuring under bankruptcy-court protection, reduced last-minute fares on direct flights to and from Chicago and Denver by as much as 40 percent; fares on tickets purchased seven days in advance for the same flights were cut as much as 70 percent.
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