Business Class: When Is It Worth the Cost?

Is Business Class Worth The Money?
For seasoned business travelers, the extra cost of a business class ticket is always worth it for one simple reason: the seats are more comfortable (and the extra legroom does not hurt, either). Such travelers do not necessarily need all the extra perks -such as gourmet meals and personal screens – as long as they have a little additional space.

Of course, when you are trying to pitch to your boss that a business class ticket would be a more cost-effective way to fly than a cheap flight, you are going to need an argument that is a little better than, “it feels good to stretch out my legs.”

After all, the difference in price between economy and business can range anywhere from $50 to $3,000 (prices vary by airline, length of flight and whether it is a transcontinental or intercontinental flight). On average, a business class ticket costs four times the amount of a coach ticket.

So why is it worth it to your employer to spend the extra cash? Here are some arguments to make.

1. Priority check-in: Spend less time waiting in line at the airport and more time doing work. Many airlines that offer business class seating also offer priority check-in and boarding. This is especially valuable if your meetings run long; you are less likely to miss your flight.

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2. Room to work on the plane: In economy, it is hard enough to sip a soda without bumping into your neighbor, much less get out your laptop to polish up that presentation. The larger seats and extra legroom in business class make it easier to spread out comfortably. Seat pitch (the airline industry’s measurement for legroom) on a business class seat ranges from between 36 inches and 78 inches, depending on the airline. The pitch in economy ranges from 31 to 35 inches.

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3. Sleeping space: On long-haul flights, many airlines offer flat-bed or lie-flat seats in business class, which make it more comfortable for passengers to grab some sleep. When traveling internationally, if you can skip that post-arrival nap and hit the ground running when you reach your destination, your employer will benefit from extra productivity.

4. Meal service: A meal is likely to be included in the price of a business class ticket. And we are not talking about just a soggy sandwich and a packet of crackers. United Airlines offers three choices for entrees, plus desserts, premium liquor, wines, fruits, cheeses and more. Passengers on Delta’s BusinessElite can enjoy a five-course meal complete with wine pairings by a master sommelier. British Airway’s Club World for long-haul business flights features cuisine inspired by the world’s top chefs. Hungry between meals? Just ask for a fresh wrap, chicken tikka masala or some gourmet chocolate. Getting a satisfying meal in the air not only means your boss can save on extra meal expenses at the airport, but also will have more of your time, as you will not have to hunt down dinner when you land.

5. Other amenities: Every airline offers different perks when flying business class, so it helps to do some research to find out which ones will help you out the most. On American Airlines, for instance, you can lock together two tray tables to double your workspace and use their Bose noise-canceling headphones to help you concentrate on whatever you need to get done. On many airlines, business class seating offers an extra level of privacy not afforded in coach, which means you can work on more sensitive projects without fear of someone peeking in. United Airlines offers a concierge-like service to business class passengers, allowing them to make special requests for food, drink and more before getting on the plane. Finally, most airlines offer better entertainment in the upper classes – including personal screens and the ability to hook up your iPod or iPhone to watch your own movies.

Of course, it might be hard to convince your employer about the benefits of better entertainment. You could just remind your boss of all that overtime you worked to finish that last project on deadline. Maybe they will want to reward you for your efforts.

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Published: October 12, 2011