First Free Story (1 of 3)

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For a few years, business travelers had lobbies and lounges (not to mention laundry rooms) to themselves. It was a silver lining of sorts, even if the economic outlook was grim, consumer confidence was shaken and personal finance experts promoted the benefits of the “staycation.”

This summer, that trend is over. The U.S. Travel Association says leisure travel will hit a record high this year, while belt-tightening in the hotel and airline industries means packed houses all around. “Now, it’s a free-for-all,” said Jeff Butler, an engineer for a company that makes broadband equipment whose work takes him on the road three to four days a week.