One year ago, rising oil prices were taking travel costs to new heights and business travelers were feeling the pinch. Now travel prices are falling again, fueled by the global recession, and airlines, hoteliers and car rental companies are taking evasive actions to survive. Here are ten trends caused by the global economic meltdown, and what they will mean for business travelers in 2009:

1. Air travel on sale. With fewer travelers in this sputtering economy, airlines are desperately trying to fill seats. From January 2007 through July 2008, U.S. airlines raised fares 32 times, according to FareCompare.com. Less than two months into the new year, U.S. airlines have initiated 25 fare sales and prices are back to pre-2007 levels in many markets. If you still have funds in your travel budget, this is a good time to fly.

2. Capacity cuts continue. To counteract declining travel demand, U.S. airlines continue to trim their schedules. Most have already eliminated 10% to 20% of domestic flights and the Air Transport Association projects the seven largest U.S. airlines will cut another 3% to 10% this year. This means fewer seats available for last-minute purchase and more involuntarily denied boardings on oversold flights.

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