Business travelers prefer to fly alone

WHEN it comes to jockeying for a seat on a plane, most business travelers (55 percent) prefer the tranquility of sitting alone. Twenty-three percent say sitting beside a colleague is the next best thing, and 13 percent say they could contend being elbow to elbow with a customer or client. But only 9 percent would opt to schmooze with their boss or chief executive officer.

These are the findings of a recent survey of 500 US business travelers by Dell Computer Corporation, an Austin, Texas-based personal computer manufacturer.

This year marks the highest increase in business travel since 1986: One in five adults will travel on business, the survey says.

The typical business traveler takes 29 business trips each year, and each trip averages about 3.5 days. But time-management experts estimate that at least two of those days are wasted because travelers are trapped on a plane.

Travel guru Rudy Maxa offers this tip to maximize productivity: ``Bad weather is the bane of business travelers,'' Mr. Maxa says. With winter approaching, that potentially means canceled flights. Rather than make a mad dash to the ticket counter and form a cranky line to book another flight, he says, run to the nearest pay phone and dial the airline's toll-free reservation number. That way you can bypass the line and will get a seat.

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