One of the perks of traveling a lot is that you accumulate a number of hotel points and airline miles. If you concentrate your efforts on a few airlines or even better, a single airline you can earn admission into the upper tiers of the airline rewards programs. I've been flying on United Airlines relatively steadily since the early days of their mileage program, and I've been able to reap the benefits of that loyalty as I've slowly accumulated more than 1 million miles with the carrier. Of all the rewards the airlines offer, probably the nicest perk for the professional traveler with loyalty status on an airline is the enhanced ability to upgrade from coach to business or first class.
The typical things people focus on with these upgrades are that business and first-class seats are wider, sometimes there is power for your laptop, often the service is more attentive and generally the food is better, which can be pretty important when it is your only meal of the day. However, all of these things pale in comparison to the most important aspect of an upgrade: the people you meet and what you learn while talking to them.
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