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Business travel: How snafus hit the bottom line

Nearly anyone who's flown lately will tell you that air travel is not only uncomfortable, but far from reliable.

And now a new study suggests that, for a growing number of business travelers, flying is costing them both time and money.

The study by the GBTA Foundation, the education and research division of the Global Business Travel Association, polled over 500 business travelers who had experienced at least one business travel-related mishap during the course of a work-related trip during the past year. And it found nearly 90 percent of business travelers experienced at least one snafu related to air travel.

On average, according to the survey, overall business travel setbacks cost individuals $1,475 in missed work and out-of-pocket expenses -- along with a 2.3 days of lost work days.

Not surprisingly, but the GBTA survey found air travel adversity made up the majority of those mishaps, at 87 percent. Those polled said cancelled flights had the "most negative impact," although delayed flights were also a major issue, along with missed connections and lost or damaged luggage.

Some other business travel issues that came up on the survey -- and that weren't directly related to air travel -- were lost items, evacuations or early returns home due to weather or other emergencies, medical mishaps and hotel booking issues.

Over 40 percent of those surveyed said their travel misadventures took place during international business trips, costing those business travelers, on average, $2,148.

Two-thirds of the study's respondents said their overseas travel mishaps took place in Europe, compared to the Asia-Pacific region (39 percent).

"Travel-related issues, including delays, cancellations and evacuations, are an unfortunate aspect of business travel," GBTA vice president of research Joseph Bates said in a release. "By understanding the biggest woes, travel managers can take steps to identify and mitigate some of the frustration, lost time and added cost involved."

One lesson apparently learned by these veteran road warriors is to purchase travel insurance in advance. More than a third of those surveyed in the GBTA study said they didn't have travel insurance when their mishap occurred, but were planning to use insurance within the next year. And that number jumps to almost two-thirds of respondents who dealt with a business travel snafu while traveling abroad.

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