Business or economy?


I am on a flight to Canada, from Brussels to Toronto via London Heathrow.  I will be 6 days away from my family, getting jet-lagged, working hard, having some fun in between and hopefully doing some positive business.

As a CEO or employee, do I need to feel guilty for flying business and spending over 3k Euro on a return flight?  Or should I have chosen the 800 Euro return economy ticket?

It’s a topic which is not just in my head, but on the table at board meetings, sales meetings and in talks over lunch in the cafeteria.  Some feel it is a stupid cost, others feel you deserve it if you are going the extra air mile for the company.

I admit, I do feel a bit guilty as I get a second gin and tonic, a three-course meal and enough room to stretch my legs.  Is this worth the 2k Euro extra spend?

Not sure… probably not…

So, how do I shake the guilt off?   Take the following 2 steps …

STEP 1: By making a set of company rules that will apply to all employees, not just me.  This creates “equality”.

  1. Only fly if you have to, train where possible
  2. If your flight is shorter than 4 hours: always low-cost airline where possible and always economy, compare!
  3. For long hauls during nights: fly business, as it is worth it if you can sleep
  4. For long flights during daytime: fly business or “highest level” economy so you can comfortably work

STEP 2: Don’t fall into the business trap, unless there are risks along the way…

Don’t do it for the gin and tonic, food or sense of luxury… because that wears off fast and is simply way overpriced…

However, if you take the glamour out of flying business and consider the flight time, working and/or sleeping as quality time… then flying business starts to make sense.  Sleeping and working will add value for the company over the next days abroad.  By flying like this, I feel I am forced to make the most of this business trip to avoid the guilt of company money wasted.  With these positive thoughts, the extra money might be well spent…

If you encounter problems along the way, business is simply supported better by the airlines.  I almost lost 24h hours at the destination… Fog in London, 2 hour delay in Brussels and thanks to my “business status” was driven by a friendly team of BA people in Heathrow, with a VIP van, from airplane 1 to check in 2… just in time to see the doors close behind me.  Saved from 24h transit in Heathrow… Glad I had the business ticket on this trip J… Wish my luggage had the same status L.

Conclusion: I have talked myself out of the guilt trap thanks to my new “set of rules” and feel better about the trip as I receive my complementary set of luxury products and refuse bubbles for breakfast…

What’s your next trip?  Are you thinking about business versus economy?

Jesse Sels

Jesse Sels

Managing Director Contraload Group

“What can I do to get it done?”

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