For business professionals, flying business class isn’t just a luxury — it’s a networking necessity.
As any frequent flyer knows, there are plenty of perks to flying business class—and no, I’m not just talking about the free mimosas and hot towels. Although every airline has a different idea of what luxury accommodations should look like (let’s be honest, not all business class bookings are created equal), there’s no doubt that business class beats coach across the board. Between spacious seating and extra amenities, upgrading your seat makes traveling more comfortable, whether you’re trying to put the finishing touches on that sales proposal or simply getting some shuteye.
But bumping up your reservation to business class is more than just the cherry on top of a rather expensive sundae. If you’re in sales, marketing, business development, or leadership, flying business class is an absolute must—even if that means dipping into your own pocket to cover the cost.
Why is flying business class worth every penny? Because in exchange for your ticket, you’re not just upgrading your legroom and meal service—you’re paying for the opportunity to network with other traveling professionals. Rather than sitting in coach, where quarters are so tight that you might get to know your seatmate a little too well, flying business class lets you rub elbows with your neighbors the right way.
Between the roomy seats and the (often complimentary) lounge areas you gain access to prior to takeoff, there’s no denying that business class opens the door for more civilized interactions with your flight mates. For shrewd businessmen, this isn’t just an opportunity to exchange pleasantries about air miles. Rather, it’s a unique occasion to build a professional network, create awareness about your brand, learn about new tech and marketing trends, open up sales opportunities and explore synergies—all with people from a wide array of professional backgrounds.
After all, as Forbes reminds us, business is as much about what you know as it is about who you know. By deepening and diversifying your network via business-class schmoozing, your pool of valuable contacts will only grow stronger.
Budgeting For Business Class
While it might be easy to write off business class as something only execs can afford, the truth is that with a little smart budgeting, those tickets can (and should) be well within your range. Considering the cost/benefit of optimizing your network, the potential rewards are well worth the higher price.
Think of it this way: how much would entrance to a networking event cost you? While some are relatively cheap, the really good ones come with a hefty fee attached. Why not spend that money, instead, on maximizing the value of a business trip you’ve already committed to taking?
Luckily, you might not have to reach too far into your pocket to purchase these tickets—with the rise of business class, more and more companies are willing to let their employees expense their upgraded seats. But even if your corporate policies specify coach only, seriously consider paying for the difference out of pocket—or even better: use those air miles you’ve banked over the years. While it might seem like a steep initial investment, the professional connections you’ll make will prove invaluable.
Ken Sterling is the Executive Vice President at BigSpeak Speakers’ bureau – the leading keynote and business speakers bureau in the world. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of California and an MBA from Babson College. Ken teaches Entrepreneurship, Marketing and Strategy at UC Santa Barbara. He is a serial entrepreneur, keynote speaker, business consultant and sales & marketing expert. For press interviews, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on YFS Magazine.