Are Business Class and First Class Travelers Stupid?

Last week $1395 business class roundtrips between New York and Paris. That’s a lot less than most airlines normally charge, but is it a good deal?

John in the comments says it’s not. It’s stupid, even.

That is so expensive lol, for that amount you can buy 3 Economy round trips, what’s the point of having a bigger seat and an hypocrite flight attendant serving you.

People traveling business are so stupid, they could have so much more fun by spending this extra money during their actual days at destination . Especially stupid during a day flight when you don’t care about being able to lie down on a flat seat .

It’s true business seat is convenient to sleep but on New York to Paris you barely have 4/5 hour to sleep between the meals.

And as for a business trip paid by your company, the latter is so stupid to lose so much money for such stupid comfort.

I’ve purchased paid business class mistake fares, like the $33 plus tax Alitalia fare between Toronto and Cyprus with stopovers in Italy. I’ve purchased business class sale fares on British Airways, where a ~ $1600 fare gets reduced by the $400 AARP discount and then you could buy down more of the fare spending British Airways Avios at a promo price.

But I’ve never spent $4000 or $10,000 on an airline ticket. Just like I’ve never spent $500 on a hotel room.

At the same time, I’ve traveled on very expensive flights — in first class on airlines like Etihad, Emirates, Singapore, Cathay Pacific, Qantas, Lufthansa, Thai, Asiana, ANA, British Airways, Air Tahiti Nui, United, American and more. And I’ve stayed at very expensive hotels like Al Maha Desert Resort and the Park Hyatt Maldives. That’s thanks to miles and points.

I’ve always thought I was getting a pretty good deal on the premium experiences, using miles for saver awards and booking deep discount tickets. Of course two years ago when I posted about a $1700 roundtrip first class (not business) fare to Seoul there were people who didn’t think that was a good deal.

What I’ve found is that there are (3) types of people that find their way into miles and points:

  • Aviation geeks. They love flying, they love planes, they know all the details of aircraft and get excited by flight.

  • Luxury travel aficionados. People who want to get the best experiences possible, and use deals to make that possible or to do it more often than they otherwise could.

  • Budget travelers. They live frugally, travel is the point not how you get there. There’s no point in a fancy hotel room because they don’t spend any time in the room.

And these different groups talk past each other, a lot. The budget traveler can’t understand ever ‘wasting money’ on business class even if it’s just a few hundred dollars more (wouldn’t you rather spend the money on a nice meal at your destination? or save the money for an early retirement?). The luxury traveler doesn’t understand the point of paying attention to miles, points, and deals if at the end of all that work the reward is a budget hotel and coach flight.

I once described this as, “There are people who like travel, people who like math games, and people who just like planes.”

There’s no point at outrage over the opinions or advice of others. How could they say that?! Don’t they just realize that… Not everyone you disagree with is evil or stupid. Your position may be perfectly logical for maximizing what you value most.

For me I travel a lot more because I can make that travel comfortable. I’d dread flying long haul economy, but I think nothing of stepping on a 15 hour flight in first class. Maybe that makes me weak, or heretical since travel is indeed wonderful. But I can generate enough miles to do it often in a premium cabin, and I definitely prefer to.

I also enjoy a nice hotel and a nice resort, even if I’m off doing other things. A room isn’t ‘just where I sleep’ it’s also a place where I’m productive (working even on vacation), where I may spend several hours up due to jet lag, and where I can rely on people to get me started comfortably for a day in a new and foreign city.

It’s ok that some people don’t value these things, or don’t value them as much as I do. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t valuable. If you think they’re stupid, as opposed to things not connected to your own values, then I’d submit you are simply failing to understand where other people might be coming from.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. lol… a classic “Someone is wrong on the internet so I need to waste my time post an article correcting them”

  2. It also depends on your income and net worth. The most I’ve spent on a hotel room was $1800 per night. The most I’ve spent on an airplane ticket was business class (upgraded to first) at $9,000. Is it wrong to spend that much because I can spend it on something else at my destination. Not really. I have plenty left to spend on everything else at my destination, and then some. If your net worth is $200,000 then fly coach and stay cheap, if it’s $15 million then fly business/first and stay in the best hotel suites. You can’t take $$ it with you.

  3. When I was younger and had less money, I would travel only in economy, but I rarely travelled internationally. I am now older, have more money, and fly more long-haul for work. But what really caused me to rethink this was after the third time I had an absolutely miserable international flight in economy, practically ruining the first few days of my trip, due not so much to the usual lack of amenities I coach, but to an obnoxious/odiferous fellow passenger on top of a sore back. I told myself that I had to stop flying international unless I could figure out how to get out of coach and into business class. But I am also unwilling to pay $5000 or more for a ticket. So I figured out how upgrades and awards work, how to look for cheap business class and the other tricks like lounge access. I have now not flown international economy in several years. and don’t intend to go back if I can help it..

  4. I fly and pay for premium coach on BA, and sometimes, but not always, have been able to upgrade to Business Class with Avios and taxes. It’s definitely worth it, not so much for the bed (I never sleep on planes), but the lounge at either end, since I am often in transit in Heathrow Terminal 5. I do appreciate nice, and well located, but not outrageously costly, hotel rooms.

  5. Because of the many instances of lost luggage, canceled flights, and all manner of unexpected BS when flying I go for biz/first class on international flights simply to have some advantage in getting the airlines to re-schedule me on another airline when needed or getting me a nice hotel room and some meals when rescheduling is not possible.

    Example: Flying from Saigon to Seoul or HK (cant remember) we found out AA had canceled the flight to the US after we flew in to the connecting airport. (We never understood why, no reason given) And even tho AA had only a borrowed desk and one lonely dude working there, he spent an hour on the phone to get us on a (sold out they said) Cathay Pacific flight (first class) back to the US. Others with coach tickets on the same canceled flight were camped out in the corridors trying to figure out what to do.

    So I buy biz or first not only for the comfort level (BIG difference) , but also for insurance that we will get the most help if needed. And that seems like it happens a lot.

  6. I agree with nearly everything said here. I have the money to buy business or first, and I find it much more comfortable and I’m ready for action immediately upon arrival at my destination. When mechanical problems in KC got me to DFW late, so that I missed my Beijing flight, AA went out of their way to get me a first class flight through Tokyo. The guy who opted for coach was re-routed through LA, then Hong Kong and showed up minutes before our meeting. At the same time, I look for the deals and opt for business when I find good ones, especially for vacation travel. There is no black and white here. There is what works for you and what doesn’t. There is very little need for anyone to criticize someone else’s choices. If I couldn’t afford business class, I would buy coach, just because I love travel.

  7. Flying first-class is crazy expensive, but I would like to try it. The price is so ridiculous, let’s compare with best hotels. If a great hotel suite costs $3,000 per night (24 hours) and a flight costs like $15,000 for the first class, it’s freakin’ 5 times that. And a hotel is better than an airplane for many reasons. People are just splurging for avoiding the coach. The experience itself is overpriced. I personally hate flights, the entire atmosphere of the crew kissing my ass and being fake.

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