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Fare Thee Well

Smart travel tips: Don't leave home without them.

Making arrangements for business travel can be confusing for homebased entrepreneurs. The major carriers, such as Delta, United, American and Northwest, as well as the low-fare carriers, have their pros and cons--and their myths. Let's explore them.

Myth #1: You'll always save a bundle using low-fare carriers, especially on walk-up fares. A random call to a travel agent found the price for a one-way, walk-up flight from Louisville, Kentucky, to Atlanta on ValuJet (now called AirTran) was $109; on Delta the rate was $159. Quite a savings. Another call yielded very different results, however. The walk-up, one-way fare for a flight from Atlanta to Boston was $149 on ValuJet and $132 on Continental.

Myth #2: You'll always find substantial savings on tickets purchased in advance. Most major carriers match low-fare carrier prices and sometimes lift the Saturday night stayover requirement. The best advice is to search for the best rates, keeping in mind that because fares are lower across the board in cities where low-fare carriers fly, you may want to support the low-fare carriers to keep prices competitive in those markets.

Myth #3: Stick with an airline from which you can earn frequent flier miles. Beware! Frequent flier programs are usually suited to business travelers flying on the corporate dole, typically not concerned with the price of their tickets. As a homebased business traveler most likely on a tight travel budget, you probably don't have this luxury. Before you think you're missing out on all the great savings and free trips, consider this: Each mile earned in a standard program is only worth about 2 cents. Join the frequent flier programs of the major carriers if you fly them, but don't fly them simply because of their programs.

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