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Skift Take

Among business travel fanatics, American rules the skies.

— Grant Martin

A new survey of business traveler habits published late last year illuminated some surprising insight into the lives and preferences of the traveling workforce.

The study showed that heavy business travelers prefer to domestically fly American Airlines over Delta and United on a nearly 4 to 1 basis. Internationally, American was preferred 2.8 to 1.

That strong preference towards American Airlines may be due to the loyalty program that the airline has adopted for 2016. American is the only legacy carrier that hasn’t shifted to a revenue-based program for earning elite status, effectively making it easier for business travelers to get perks throughout the year.

A later question in the survey reinforces this. Asked whether passengers in revenue-based programs earned more or fewer miles relative to a standard distance-based loyalty program, 32% reported earning fewer miles while 23% earned more (35% surveyed refused to use a revenue-backed program altogether). As travelers start to see the ill-effects of revenue-based programs on their mileage balances, they may be starting to sway to competing carriers.

Another factor influencing the data may be the user group surveyed. The study was performed across 1,500 business travelers subscribed to View From the Wing, a popular business travel blog, and Expertflyer.com, a tool used to track seat and upgrade availability on airlines. Each of those site appeal to expert-level travelers highly sensitive to loyalty programs and elite status — so the survey users may have a predisposition toward’s American’s loyalty program. View From the Wing has also been a staunch supporter of American Airlines and its loyalty program for the last several years.

Still, the survey gives good insight into what experts in the field of business travel are planning for the year to come, and for any aspiring road warriors it may make sense to follow that lead. Other insight from the road, including the percentage of business traveler that have been to strip clubs or participated in extramarital affairs, can be found over at the survey’s homepage or directly within the survey data.

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