|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. On a flight from Frankfurt to Boston I sat next to the Dean of Harvard Medical School, who shared his tips for dealing with jetlag. On a flight from JFK to Barcelona, I met fellow public speaker Fawn Germer, who was speaking at the same conference I was, and she has become one of my trusted colleagues. I have met dozens of fascinating people with whom I stay in touch.
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 economy. I reach my executive platinum status each year on American Airlines with points way before I reach 100,000 miles flown. That means I get the benefits of that status starting earlier in the year. And you’re less likely to need those end-of-year mileage runs to maintain your status.
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.
Stress-free productivity. This benefit pays off on particularly turbulent flights or if you are an uncomfortable flyer. According to ask the pilot.com , “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.
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.