Tired of the hassle? Surrender to first class

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Some people might think that it's crazy for a 10-person public relations firm to institute a policy allowing every staff member to fly first class on any business trip. But, short-haul or long-haul, it's not about leg room, and it's not about getting a meal. PJ Inc., based in New York, notified its employees of a first-class-only business travel policy in June after two staff members had a nightmare travel experience returning from a business trip to Mexico. It was the final straw.

While other companies are going in the opposite direction, with demands to reduce travel expenses, we believe that first-class air travel for business travelers isn't a perk; it's an essential.  

My only regret is that we didn't institute this years ago.

We're in the business of promoting many travel clients, and it makes sense for our team to feel like traveling isn't a burden. We feel that if our employees are important enough to be on the road for us and our clients, then they deserve, at minimum, to not cringe every time they have to hit the road.

To cite many unbearables would be to complain. And any travel industry employee complaining about travel, especially to anyone outside of the industry, is counterproductive.

With clients all over the world, whether we're popping to Denver for a technology client, heading to Mexico for a site inspection or holding a press conference at an airport, we need to arrive in good shape, look decent and have the ability to change plans and flights at the last minute without hassle.

Let's be honest, it helps us like what we do a whole lot more and makes "enthusiastic business traveler" less of an oxymoron.

The money is well spent, and the benefits easily outweigh the costs. And for any costs that clients aren't willing to cover, PJ Inc. is happy to foot the bill.

What could be more important than employee retention?  

Doing business in the air is part of the byproduct that benefits our agency and our clients. How can you beat sitting next to Robin Miller from the Food Network on the way back from Arizona? Staff can be comfortable enough to break out the laptop and get hours of work done that might not happen otherwise.

Then there's the other rationale. I met my former husband in coach. Now I only travel in first class.

Enough said.

Pamela Johnston is the president of PJ Inc., a public relations firm in New York.

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