Flying economy isn’t just a hassle for business travelers — it’s actually stressing them out so much that lost productivity might be costing businesses more than the economy seat is saving them.

Flying economy on a long-haul flight is one of the top four travel stressors for business travelers, reports Carlson Wagonlit Travel in the report, “Stress Triggers for Business Travelers” (see below). Other top stressors include lost or damaged luggage, no internet connection, and flight delays — all of which add up to lost time for the traveler.

Businesses that continue cut corners on travel costs for frequent travelers risk decreased work productivity. CWT estimates that companies that save $1 million a year by putting travelers in economy class end up losing $3 million a year in lost productivity.

Demographic differences in perceived stress levels

Women, older travelers, and travelers living with a spouse or children all reported high levels or perceived stress than their other side of that.

Although younger travelers are less stressed by flying economy, traveling on weekends, or dealing with a mid-level hotel than older travelers; they are more stressed by the prospect of working long hours at the destination. As may be expected, younger travelers prefer using an online booking tool while older travelers prefer calling an agent.

The results of the survey will be used by CWT to help corporate travel departments create a more adaptive travel policy.

“There’s an opportunity to take the one-size-fits-all travel policy and change it so that it’s a little more adaptive,” says Joel Wartgow, Senior Director at CWT Solutions Group. “It’s not that women should travel less, but that companies can create a better travel situation for them.”

In response to data that frequent travelers report higher levels of stress than infrequent travelers, Wartgow suggests, “a company might have infrequent travelers stay in a hotel that is in a less convenient location to the office, but a frequent traveler would stay at the hotel right across the street so they can be more productive.”

Other findings are as follows:

  • North American travelers report higher levels of stress when faced with a new language than travelers from Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. This is likely because travelers outside of the US are more accustomed to dealing with different languages.
  • The more languages a travelers speaks, the less stress they experience when encountering a new language or flying to a new destination.
  • Taking a taxi is more frequent in Europe, while renting a car is more common in North America.
  • North American travelers perceive more stress than other region by not being able to keep up with their exercise routine.
  • High level executives report more stress than lower ranked employees due to increased trip frequency and the inability to keep a daily schedule.

The survey gathered responses from 6,000 business travelers from different countries and companies from July to September of this year.

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