The number of North American companies that allow premium-class air travel rose 5 percentage points to 56% in 2011 from a year ago, according to the Global Business Travel Association. European corporate travel managers are more optimistic. Despite gloomy economic indicators, 46% of European travel managers surveyed by the association say they're approving premium-class airline travel to North America vs. 34% last year at this time. That coincides with the most recent figures from the International Air Transport Association, which reported last week that traveling overseas in first- or business-class seats rose 7.5% in July compared with a year ago. That follows a climb of 6.4% in June. "Cost savings is still on top of their mind, but we're definitely seeing loosening up of some of the restrictions that were in place in who could travel in business class," says Megan Costello, managing director of the Association of Corporate Travel Executives. "But it's slow and steady. Not a huge opening of floodgates." Get the full story at USA TODAY