Hey, remember when business travel was a novelty and it was just so exciting to get away that you looked forward to every trip?
Don’t get me wrong–I still enjoy the incredible places I get to visit for work but let’s face it, living out of hotels gets tiresome, especially once you have a family.
More than that, though, it gets expensive. No one ever looks forward to a Saturday night business stay over.
I do a lot of business travel, so I try to keep my business commitments to weekdays, with weekends to spend with my awesome wife, our son, and our extended family.
But the Saturday Night Rule makes this challenging.
The Business Travel Budget Killing Saturday Night Rule
In case you’re not familiar, it’s a rule airlines employ in an effort to segment out their business from leisure travelers. As the theory goes, people who travel for business are generally heading home Friday or Saturday for the weekend. If someone stays in a destination over the Saturday night, they’re more likely a leisure traveler.
And leisure travelers get cheaper airfare.
That’s right–even without flying business class, people who travel for business purposes often pay more because of this stupid rule.
It sucks, and it makes it really difficult for entrepreneurs and executives to find the cheapest way to travel for business.
( Sidenote: the airline actually got rid of the Saturday Night Rule in 2006, and business travelers everywhere rejoiced. In 2008, they brought it back and crushed our spirits once again.)
I have a couple of speaking engagements coming up that demonstrate this.
In October, I’m heading to London for two marketing industry events:
Each takes place over a Monday and Tuesday.
I really don’t want to stay over a Saturday night, because it cuts into my family time big time. My wife is a crazy busy heart surgeon and we have a two-year old–I’m literally taking my life in my hands by staying away a few extra days (Kidding! Love you, honey.)
But WOW, it’s expensive if I do such a short trip! I’m looking at a $3,200 fare for the first trip alone.
And another $3,200 for the next week’s trip:
Basically, the airlines are completely comfortable screwing me over, because they know I’m a business traveler who just needs to go there and come back quickly.
They know I’ll pay up to avoid having to be away any longer than I have to.
Here’s a crystal clear demonstration of the Saturday Night Rule in practice: if I leave just one day earlier, on the Saturday, the price plummets to $1,267.
It’s WAY cheaper than the $3,200 Sunday fare, but then I lose my weekend with my family.
What are business people to do? Do we pay up, or fly one night earlier?
We’re going to keep the dates we want (no Saturday night stay-over) and not pay the ridiculous price.
The Cheapest Way to Travel for Short Business Trips to a Common Destination
Kayak does this thing called Hacker Fares, where they pair a couple of one way flights to create a discounted return. What we’re going to do is a sort of DIY hacker fare, where you still get the flights you need but send different signals to the airline about what you need.
Now, this works for people who travel to the same place(s) more than once every few months. So if you have clients, colleagues or other business in a particular city you visit a few times a year, try this out.
You book two long trips. The first trip is your original departure for the first trip. Instead of booking a flight back for the next day, book the return for your NEXT trip the following week. The price in this case fell from $3,200 to just a little over $1,000.
Then on the second trip, I booked the reverse trip (London to Boston) from the first flight, followed by the departure for my original second trip.
The price for that trip dropped to $684!
My total cost for the airfare for these two trips was reduced by 73.5% and I saved over $4,700 booking them in a different order. This is by the far the cheapest way to travel for business that I’ve discovered.
If the airlines are determined to gouge us with crazy high fares because they think we’re forced to pay it, we have to get creative.
Saturday Night Rule = Hacked!