Thursday, October 2, 2014

You Should Be Flying At The Front Of The Plane

You all know what an avid traveler I am.  Included in that description I would add that I am also a frequent flier mileage geek.  I horde miles like a Siberian squirrel hoards acorns.  I have become pretty good at it, to the point that when I fly internationally it is always in business class or first class.  I am also in the front of the plane on most of my domestic flights (Southwest and JetBlue being the exceptions), even if that means paying the premium price for the ticket.  I do it because it makes economic sense to spend the extra money, and it minimizes the horror of air travel.  At 6'5" I need all the extra room I can afford.
Consider as an example the average big city lawyer.  She bills at $500 per hour.  At a minimum flying from San Francisco to New York will require one hour to get to the airport; one hour to clear security and board the plane; five and a half hours hours until touchdown. That is eight and a half hours.  How about another example.  San Francisco to Nashville.  One hour to get to the airport.  One hour to get on the plane.  Four hours flying time to Chicago.  Two hour layover at O'Hare. Two hour connecting flight to Nashville.  Ten hours of travel time. A third example.  San Francisco to Rome. One hour to get to the airport.  Two hours to check in.  Ten hours to Frankfurt.  Three hour layover. One hour flight to Rome.  Seventeen hours! Under any of the examples, you are away from the office for at least a full day.
If you pay for an upper class seat that travel time does not have to be a big ding on your bottom line. Here's why. For that extra money you pay to the airline you get priority check-in, and a priority security line.  That saves you at least thirty minutes.  Then you get access to the airline's business class lounge, with quiet, private workspaces.  That gives you another hour of productive time, without dealing with the crowds, noise, and confusion of the main terminal. That lounge also gives you free wi-fi, and access to free computers and printers should you need them. That business class seat on the plane gives you priority loading and off-loading (more time and efficiency).  Plus you get a seat and tray table large enough to work at, with some semblance of privacy.  Take advantage of it by getting some billable time in. Four hours of work on the flight to Frankfurt (yes, I fly Lufthansa) would be no problem With your arrival in Frankfurt you once again get priority clearance through customs and security. You get lounge access during the layover, with more work time should you want it.

If you shop around you can get a round trip business class ticket on the domestic flights for $1500 to $2000. For the round trip to Rome a business class seat will set you back $3000 to $4000.

On our San Francisco to Rome scenario you could easily get 6 and a half hours of billable work done, and have plenty of vacation time.  For our $500 per hour lawyer those 6.5 hours of billable time would work out to $3,250.  You have paid for your business class ticket!  And you have traveled in style.

Then again you could do it my usual way:  Pay for the ticket with a frequent flier credit card to earn double or triple miles.  Forget about work and enjoy a carefree, luxurious trip.  Work a full Saturday when you return to pay for it.

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