How Airline Perks Stack Up for Business Travelers With airline extras dwindling, access to on-board Wi-Fi or TV can dictate who gets your travel budget.
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I've flown 1.5 million miles on United Airlines in my working life. (Before you start tweeting congratulations, understand that it's the equivalent of spending six months, day and night, belted into creased leatherette.) For my devotion, and the annoyance of having United's "Rhapsody in Blue" theme permanently stuck in my head, I've been rewarded with annual Premier Executive status in the Mileage Plus program. So I'd have had a decent chance for a first-class upgrade whenI flew from Seattle to Denver recently. Yet I didn't even consider booking the trip on United.
The reason? This was during the recent NCAA tournament, and I wanted to catch a game. United doesn't have live television on board. Same for Alaska, which also flies nonstop between the cities. But Frontier, which doesn't even offer a first-class cabin to be upgraded into, features 24 channels on its $6 DirecTV package. The two hours of my flight sped by as I watched Virginia Commonwealth upset Kansas.
Air travel has been a commodity for years. Gone are the days when one carrier would boast about the quality of its meals, another about the plushness of its cabin. Responding to research that showed most consumers make ticket-buying decisions solely by price, airlines pared amenities until the experience of flying became indistinguishable from one brand to the next.