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Seriously, What Is Up with the New York Times’ Travel Coverage?

I’m not sure what is going on over there, but the New York Times’ travel coverage (which I’ve written about here and here) has been riddled with, ahem, crap. Case in point, this nonsense article from today’s special Business Travel section.

First sentence: Whether they are small-business owners, sales representatives or corporate executives, business travelers these days are more often found at the front of the plane than at the back, where cuts in travel budgets confined them during the recession. Really? Think about that: how can more business travelers be found in first class than in coach? I think I’m being generous if I say the average narrowbody jet has 16 business class seats and about 150 coach seats. Perhaps he was going for hyperbole, but generally the NY Times tries to avoid putting outright untruths in their lead paragraph.

Next sentence: The restrictive company policies that banned business-class travel, limited lodging to three-star hotels and replaced three-day sales conferences in Las Vegas with virtual meetings via conference calls have all but disappeared. Again, that is simply untrue. I do some consulting work for a large corporate travel agency and, having recently spoken with a number of their large clients, I am certain that companies that moved to 3-star hotels are not changing their policies. If anything, nearly every travel manager I’ve spoken with has said that their travelers are very happy with 3-stars nowadays because of the free wi-fi, free breakfast, free parking and upgraded bedding found at most. We’ve also seen enormous growth in the use of videoconferencing, especially for internal meetings. Oh, and please find me 10 companies that permit widespread use of business travel on domestic flights.

And for proof that planes are busier, the author quotes some guy: “On a flight back from London last year, there were five rows of empty seats. A month ago, the flight was packed.” Wow, that’s rigorous investigation.

The NY Times should know better than to publish this nonsense.

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  1. Well, this is the airline that notoriously published a front-page story stating that Airbus was seriously looking into standing room “seats” on commercial airplanes, so what do you expect?

    That said, the NYTimes travel coverage is schizophrenic. They are actually more interested in travel than most USA media outlets, which I think is a good thing. But, as you say, they are often “lazy” with the facts. I guess they don’t think accuracy is really that important in travel reporting. Some might argue that they’re also lazy about accuracy in their other reporting, but that’s another story. :grin:

  2. that’s a good point — they actually do cover travel quite extensively (Sunday Travel section is the best in the country, and they have dedicated business travel coverage on Tuesdays, although that feels kinda tired to me).

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