Go ahead, treat yourself to business class

The controversy over senior BBC figures flying business class to the US has prompted us to look at whether flying business class is a justifiable business expense – and we want to hear your views. 

We’re of the opinion that for senior executives or directors of large companies (i.e. those that can afford it), flying business often allows you to be more productive on arrival. It gives you the opportunity to catch some sleep before that important meeting, or to polish off that important investors’ presentation. 

Alan Yentob, the BBC’s creative director, recently came under fire for flying business class – at a cost to the license-fee payers of £3,381 – to New York.

But speaking at the Voice of the Listener and Viewer’s spring conference in London earlier this week, Yentob defended the cost, saying it was simply a necessary business expense for him to get the job done.

“I’ve been 40 years at the BBC and done quite a lot,” said Yentob. “I am quite a senior figure at the organisation. When I went to New York, immediately after I arrived I went to give a talk to an organisation. I was then filming in the afternoon, before returning to London within 24 hours, to work straight away.

“Now, do you think I should have travelled economy to do that? Because I wouldn’t have been capable of doing the job. I’m just now quite capable of doing all those things at once.”

Nevermind Yentob’s “I’m quite a senior figure at the organisation” defence – that’s not a good justification. But we do believe his claim that he wouldn’t have been able to do the job as well, had he been forced to fly economy.

I defy anyone to get off an economy transatlantic flight, work all day, get onto another economy flight back home, and then work the next day. It’s safe to say that you wouldn’t be working at your best productivity levels.

The BBC relies on its Yentobs and Thompsons being two places at once, working and thinking about work seven days a week. If its executives need to fly business to get the work done, then so be it.

Of course, there do have to be checks on balances on this – we’re not advocating a free-for-all on business class flights, that would run your business into the ground pretty quickly. These business class flights have to be justified. But when they are, then fine. Sit back and enjoy sipping a glass of bubbly.

What are your views on this? Do you fly business – or do you think that it’s a luxury that just can’t be justified? What are your company’s rules on flying business? Leave your comments below.

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