Every traveling entrepreneur is faced with the same decision: save money and fly coach or splurge and upgrade your ticket to business class or first class?
For us, the choice is easy: Give yourself the upgrade. This decision isn't because I want to look cool sitting in first class. It is simply a decision based on numbers and knowing what my time is worth-- something that every entrepreneur should be very aware of.
Let's say for example you're booking an international trip and the business class ticket is $3,000 more than the cheapest coach seat. This may sound like a lot to spend, but what you need to consider is the amount of money it will cost you when you sleep for 12 hours after you land or even worse, the amount of money you will lose because you feel sluggish and aren't operating at peak performance in your international meeting and don't close the deal.
Knowing your numbers here is the key to making the decision but once you've got that figured out, here are the top three benefits of upgrading your ticket.
1. Arrive refreshed
How many times have you spent a 12-hour flight crammed into a seat with nothing to comfort you but a flimsy blanket and a neck pillow you purchased right before boarding? Between the ambient engine noise, announcements from the pilot and your neighbor refusing to turn off his reading light, this can wreak havoc on your body.
Now picture yourself in first class. Your seat folds down into a comfortable bed. You can position yourself to avoid light spillage. No one is trying to climb over you to get to the lavatory and back.
On a flight to Tokyo or London, this rest is absolutely crucial. I'd much rather step off that plane ready to do some business rather than ready to hibernate. While there will still be some jetlag due to the fact that your body still thinks it's on Pacific Standard Time, you're much more well-rested than anyone sitting in coach.
Odds are, if you're flying internationally for business, you're negotiating a high-dollar contract, attending an important conference or meeting with a valuable client. Wouldn't you rather go into these venues with a clear head and rested mind?
I've only outlined the perks available to you in slumber. When you're awake, reading the latest from Seth Godin or a titan of your industry, you've got wider seats, more legroom and prompt service from flight attendants. This extra space will also come in handy if you need to pull out the laptop and do some work. Unlike in coach, you won't be jostling for elbow room.
2. All the perks -- at a lower cost (thanks Executive Flights)
While it might seem like a lot, upgrading enables you to a vital set of perks. Chief among them? The airport lounge.
Most major airlines have their own special lounge at large airports such as San Francisco International or London Heathrow. These lounges are vital if you need to block out distractions -- which are unavoidable in the general terminal -- and do some work. If you're on a layover after a long flight, many of these lounges have showers so you can get refreshed and changed before your next meeting or Skype call.
Flying with a business or first-class ticket can also save a lot of cash (and hassle) by including check-in, baggage and other features. As airlines look to nickel-and-dime coach passengers by charging for baggage and other amenities, the business class traveler is at ease.
Unlike the terminal, which is usually stocked with loud, busy fast food places and Starbucks, you can actually get a decent meal (and an adult beverage, if that's your speed) in peace.
Upgrading to first class also brings tremendous value in terms of your time. You can board the plane first and bypass the cattle call that comes with boarding a plane in coach. You're also first to get off the plane, so you can get back to being productive sooner.
3. You never know who you'll meet
Just because you're on a plane doesn't mean you can't do some networking. An exciting and underrated aspect of air travel is that you never know who you'll be sitting next to.
The internet is full of stories of people seated next to celebrities on airplanes, but in business or first class, your seatmate might be a future client or business partner.
Two years ago, Virgin America developed an app, Here On Biz, allowing passengers to learn more about who they're sharing a plane with. While it's now a general business networking app, it shows that there's plenty of opportunity to network on long flights. Making small talk about the destination or a book they're reading could turn into a life-long partnership or a powerful connection.
Even if your seatmate isn't a CEO or one of the featured speakers at a conference you're about to attend, you might make a friend -- or just walk away with an amazing story.
The main issue, which debating coach or first class, is the value of your time. If you value your time as I do, the convenience, comfort and efficiency of first-class is an easy choice.
If you're still wondering whether the upgrade is worth it, ask yourself this: What is the price tag on peak performance? I would rather pay up to ensure that I'm at my best when it's time to meet with potential clients or learn more at a major conference.
It's worth your money to arrive at your international destination well-rested, caught up on work and motivated to take your business to new heights.