*Northwest Airlines now offers free first-class upgrades to many long-haul passengers who choose to connect through Detroit; Minneapolis; or Memphis, Tennessee, instead of flying nonstop on other carriers. The "ConnectFirst" program may cost a little more than the full coach fare, but the perks may well be worth it.
*Management consulting firm Runzheimer International predicts business travel costs will increase 4.7 percent in 1998, with hotel costs up 6 percent, airfares up 5 percent, car rentals up 4 percent and meals up 2 percent.
*Beginning next year, Delta Air Lines' Medallion and Gold Medallion fliers will get fewer 800-mile upgrade coupons--four to be exact (they used to receive eight as miles accumulated). Platinum members will continue to receive unlimited 800-mile segment upgrades.
*According to the 1997 OAG Business Travel Lifestyle Survey, which polled the world's most frequent business travelers from nine countries, 62 percent regularly use travel agents for planning air travel.
*Want to go online to get information on your next business trip? Try Yahoo! at http://www.yahoo.com . By clicking on the travel category, business travelers can be immediately linked to an array of valuable information, such as business travel articles, travel tips and hints on trip planning and booking.
*Be on the lookout for new cordless speaker phones in hotel rooms nationwide. Ramsey, New Jersey-based AlphaNet Hospitality Systems Inc., a telecommunications company for the hospitality industry, recently rolled out its new InnPhone product, allowing hotels to offer hands-free speaker phones in their guest rooms.