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Thresholds for Business Class Travel

With the move to control discretionary spending in recent years, many companies have significantly reduced their travel budgets.  One opportunity to secure large gains in this space is by restricting business class travel, where the price difference for a single trip can be $4,000 or more.   Given that the most powerful executives are often frequent travelers, setting the policy can be difficult, and there often is a threshold when an employee can book their trip in business class.  And, since the majority of companies have a mix of local and global travel policies, creating policies that are consistently applied globally can be difficult.

Recently, a Peeriosity member from a large global company that didn’t permit business class travel wanted to understand the approach followed by peer companies, and also understand the mix of global and local policies for the travel process.   To find out, the member created an iPollingTM question and within 48 hours they had their answer.   

The poll results indicated that 78% of member companies allow travelers to book in business class with certain restrictions.  For 22% it is simply a matter of job level, and for 56% an approval threshold is set based on either the trip duration or the distance traveled.  Here are the details:

can travelers book a Business Class Travel ticket ipolling results

Results to the question about the scope of the travel policy were surprising, with 57% reporting that they have a mix of global and local policies, and just 35% reporting that travel policy is set and managed only on a global basis.   Creating a consistent travel policy not only improves the efficiency of the travel process, but it can also reduce complexity for the traveler, as well as ensure a proper balance between business need for travel perks and the cost of the premium services.

ipollingwhat kind of travel policy is available in the company Business Class Travel

Here are examples of some of the additional comments from Peeriosity members that were added when they responded to these questions:

  • Previously, business class was open to all employees, regardless of status for flights longer than 9 hours.  This policy has recently changed to be based on the employee job level, plus the flight needs to be longer than 9 hours.
  • Business class travel is allowed when the total flight time of all segments of a one-way trip is at least 6 hours.
  • Approval for business class travel is based on the employee’s job level and the frequency of international trips.
  • Employees may use business class when the combined intercontinental flight connection exceeds 5,500 miles, or if the circumstances of the itinerary (e.g. multiple business stops) result in a fare equal to or lower than a coach.
  • Officers may fly first class where offered and, if not, business class.  All other employees must fly economy unless the flight exceeds a certain amount of time.
  • Business Class is permitted for flights exceeding 5 hours, except when traveling within North America (the U.S., Canada, and Alaska), Mexico and Central America, or between the U.S. and the Caribbean.
  • Business travel is permitted for VP-level employees traveling on international nonstop flights lasting 10 hours or more.
  • We allow business class for travel over 8 hours. For trips over 12 hours in length, we allow travelers to downgrade to economy class for a one-time cash payment to the employee of $1,500 (before taxes).

Under what circumstances does your company allow employees to book airline tickets in business class?  How consistent and how global is your company’s travel policy?

Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?


 “iPollingTM” is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from participating or accessing content. Members have full visibility of all respondents and their comments. Using Peeriosity’s integrated e-mail system, Peer MailTM, members can easily communicate at any time with others who participate in iPolling.

Peeriosity members are invited to log into to join the discussion and connect with Peers.   Membership is for practitioners only, with no consultants or vendors permitted.  To learn more about Peeriosity, click here.

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