Why don’t businessmen fly economy class to save money for their company

Here’s a story I know.

Marketing was sending one of their brand managers to Singapore. From LA to Singapore, that’s a 16 hour flight. The manager is like 7 or 8 month pregnant. So she requested to fly business class. This was escalated all the way to VP of marketing, and was denied, on the bases that “if they open this door, everyone could then ask for business class”. The lady shrugged and said “nope, I’m not going”. And she left the company after her maternity leave.

I travel regularly to China for business, somewhere around 4–6 times a year. Just last month, I’ve traveled to China twice in 4 weeks. I enjoy traveling home, but it’s 30 hours in air, round trip each trip. 30 hours of cramping in economy, dry air, annoying/smelly passengers, horrible food, headache, muscle pain… I’m lucky because I’m petite with short legs.

All of that is OK. It comes with the job, I don’t complain… The worst part is when I have to travel with company execs: all of the execs would fly business and I’d fly economy, with them on the same plane. In order to save time, the execs often arrange their meetings in such a way that they’d arrive in Hong Kong at 6 am, start meeting at 10 am, and fly back the second day if not the same night. Sure, they don’t mind starting meetings at 10 am after landing 3 hours prior. They can sleep in business class, I end up stuffed in economy for 15 hours, get off the plane and arrange car services for the execs, take a shower and prepare for the meeting, PPT and such, arrange car services to the meeting place, coordinate with our business partner to arrange dinner places, translate the entire time, barely get the chance to eat anything, and then another 15 hours of economy back home.

That was my job. I accepted that. I did my best. All the execs were happy with my services.

And I left the company the first opportunity I had.

Partly because I had walked down the airplane aisles one too many times looking at execs settling down in their comfy business class seats, either politely nod at me, or avoid my gaze all together, while I kept walking down to economy and stuck there for 15 hours straight. And listen to them complain about how they have to wait for some nobody to get off the plane.

Yes, mister, you get off the plane first because you fly business. You can arrange the car service and cross the border on your own, no need to wait for little old me.

I always find this mentality a bit weird: save money for your company. So what? the CEO can buy their 10th vacation home in some godforsaken tropical island I’ll never go? The guy has a Maserati and drives a Porsche for his daily commute. Are you fucking kidding me?

I’ve heard the argument that, we save some money on business class, and the money will go to the coffer for year end bonuses.

Nope. The company can afford business class for their tired employees and good bonuses if they’re making a profit.

The company I currently work for just recently updated their policy so I can travel on business. When I got the news, I jumped up and down in my hotel room (I was actually on a business trip when they announced it). It removed my dread of these trips by about 70%. I can sleep during those 15–17 hours, I won’t end up with back pains, leg pains, and a pounding headache after I land. This is literally the best perk any company could offer (besides, of course, a raise and bonus).

And you know what, that perk alone would be enough for me to say no to most recruiters trying to poach me.

I’m glad my company offers this perk. and no, I’ll not fly economy on business trips to save company money.

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