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Ask any motivational speaker what they like least about their job, and they will tell you it’s the travel. They mostly fly first class. In fact, it’s a clause in their contract – one that they rarely negotiate. They fly up front because it makes good business sense. Here’s why:
Who you meet. Since many of your fellow passengers in the front of the plane are business travelers, your flight becomes a networking opportunity. And you never know who you’re going to meet.
Faster status, faster perks. Some airlines have a “points vs. miles” system in their frequent traveler program. Purchased first class tickets get you more points than miles, meaning you reach higher status faster, with fewer flights. Of course, if you’re in first class because you used miles or points for an upgrade, you’ll only earn miles for the economy.
Slowly building miles doesn’t make sense anymore. Much like driving a new car off the lot, frequent flyer miles decrease in value from the day you earn them. A first class seat today can cost you a lot less than anything you might do in the future. For example, if you have the miles for an upgrade today, but you are waiting for enough to buy a round-trip ticket, you run a risk. The frequent flyer mile is the fastest depreciating currency in the world. A first class upgrade now could be worth more than two round trips in the future.To get the most value for the miles you fly, use them as soon as you get them.
Stress-free productivity. This benefit pays off on particularly turbulent flights or if you are an uncomfortable flyer. The roughest spot is usually the far aft—the rearmost rows closest to the tail. In addition, with more legroom, a bigger workspace, and less chance of encountering loud kids, you can focus on your projects and reduce the stress of a lost work day. Need to recharge your body’s batteries with a good nap? You’re more likely to get those much-needed z’s in first class.
Time. This is the most valuable benefit to me. You can show up at the airport later because your first-class boarding pass gives you access to a faster security line at most airports. And there are other “firsts” build into first class: You get to board first, and you’re off the plane first. Your bags come off the belt first (and you didn’t have to pay an additional fee to check them), helping you get to your destination sooner.
And if those reasons aren’t enough, consider this. Airlines are improving their first class amenities while making the economy even less appealing.
Delta announced a new basic economy service JetBlue is going to start charging for bags and reducing legroom to cram in more seats – making it more like the legacy carriers every day.
Sure, first class costs more – often a lot more – but once you calculate the added value of networking, ramping up your frequent-flyer earnings, being rested and productive, and saving time—that most precious commodity—the price tag will look more attractive.