Vacationers prefer to drive; business travelers are flying

One travel agency says its leisure travel business is off by about 30 percent.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Area business travelers are back in the air, and travel agents themselves say they are flying because safety precautions make it safer than ever.
But many vacation travelers are choosing to stay home or drive.
Five weeks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, area travel agents say leisure travel is still slow but is picking up.
Alice Porter, co-owner of Allsports Travel Service in Canfield, said leisure travel there is off about 30 percent from last year. It had been off some before Sept. 11, however, because of the economy, she said.
People's concern: Many people who are staying home now are concerned they will be stranded somewhere if airlines are shut down again, she said.
Charles Petzinger, who owns Pan Atlas Travel Service and in Younsgtown and Boardman and All Tours & amp; Travel Service in Warren, said leisure travel is definitely down but it's slowly coming back.
He said planes are about 60 percent full, compared with about 85 percent in good times.
While much of that is corporate travel, leisure travel is picking up as people arrange for college students to come home for the holidays or they plan winter trips to Florida, he said.
Petzinger and other agents said travel to Europe has dried up since Sept. 11 as people look to travel in the United States if they decide to go somewhere.
More are driving: Petzinger said more people are driving and are using his agency to arrange trips to shop and see shows in cities such as Toronto and Chicago.
Trips to the Caribbean are picking up because people view that as closer to home than Europe, said Julie Costas, marketing director for Carlson Wagonlit, which has offices in Youngstown, Poland and Warren.
She said she thinks additional airline security makes this a safe time to fly. She has four flights scheduled for herself next month.
Petzinger said he's flying to Asia next month, and Porter said she is flying to Florida soon.
Business travel is nearly back to normal, the agents said.
Petzinger said business travel can't be cut much because companies need to send their employees out to meet with customers.
Forced to fly: Porter said some business travelers say they don't want to travel but their bosses are making them.
"I don't think they are afraid of flying. I think they want to be close to home in case something happens," she said.
Petzinger said the cutback in travel comes just after airlines reduced the commissions paid to travel agents. In August, airlines reduced commissions to 5 percent of the ticket value, up to a maximum of $20 a ticket. It had been a maximum of $50 a ticket.
Before airlines began cutting commissions several years ago, commissions were 10 percent of the ticket price with no maximum.
Petzinger said customers aren't complaining about service fees of $10 to $25 a ticket because of the service provided, such as having a paper ticket instead of an electronic ticket offered by online services.