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I will soon be traveling to Japan to visit another division of our company for which our division will soon need to work closely with.

I will be traveling from a city on the east coast of United States to airport NRT. I will be traveling with my team of 10 and I am in management at my company. The current booking for this is unfortunately a red eye flight leaving late at night local time on east coast of USA. Looking at itinerary for our trip, I will be expected to talk , present, and generally take an active role for which good sleep and concentration is important.

For the above reasons, I don't want to take a red eye flight such that I will have to sleep overnight on a plane. At least, I want to minimize the effect of jet lag that will throw off my sleep schedule and also time spent at Narita International Airport, whose layout I am not familiar with. Flights that leave earlier are more expensive and there is an expectation from our company to minimize the cost.

  • Is it proper to request a change in flight time under this scenario for reasons that benefit only me / for personal preferences only?

  • Would I be setting a bad precedent for other employees needing to travel in future if I offered to pay my company the fare difference between the red eye flight and the flight leaving at a better time if the request is denied?

  • How do I ask this to maximize the chances of approval?

Edit The bad precedent is for other employees, not my company. I don't want others to feel compelled to pay out of pocket when the company requires such travel.

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  • Is all the team traveling in the same flight? How much rest do you have before you have to present/talk etc.?
    – DarkCygnus
    May 10, 2023 at 23:44
  • Yes, assuming all goes to plan. We will be together on a single flight
    – Anthony
    May 11, 2023 at 1:25
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    Is transport to the airport, meals, car hire, someone meeting you in Japan and other things part of the company plan. There is often a lot of peripheral logistics. eg, you go on an earlier flight, 10 people need dinner paid for, transport and hotel bookings may need adjusting etc,. Quite apart from changing the plans of 10 people to suit yours.
    – Kilisi
    May 11, 2023 at 2:38
  • I don't think being rested an minimizing the effects of jet lag so you can be more rested and concentrated in the talks and presentations are "reasons that benefit only me / for personal preferences only" as you mention. Being rested and focused is something that will benefit the company, not just you.
    – Elerium115
    May 11, 2023 at 10:11
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    Others are correct that some kind of flight change is beneficial to your mission. However, the same kind of flight change may not be beneficicial to the whole team. Some people may be better leaving a day early to rest and adjust, but others might not be able to do that if it impacts child or elder care, for example.
    – Theodore
    May 11, 2023 at 20:45

5 Answers 5

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There is no way to fly from the US to Japan without it being a "redeye." Technically this isn't a true redeye, which means a flight leaving in the evening from the west and arriving in the morning in the east. Regardless, a direct flight will be ~12 hours, and you'll have a 12 hour time change as well, so no matter when you leave, you'll arrive around the same time the next day. If you are connecting somewhere, you will probably add 3-6 hours to that for each extra connection.

You should not expect to get work done on the day you arrive. I have done this going to Australia, got there on a Monday morning and went straight into meetings and it was tough. You should figure out how to get there so you're ready for your meeting. That might mean a stop in LA (if you're connecting there) the day before, or most probably just leaving a day or two early to give you time in Japan to recover. Changing your sleep schedule before you leave should help as well. During a PM-to-PM direct flight you probably want to stay awake on the flight so you can sleep at night once you get to Tokyo. If you have an 18 hour trip with connections, you'll have to decide what is best. A frequent-flyer forum might be a better place to ask this to get people who do this regularly.

So, as to your question, I don't think either of your options will help you. You need to do more to allow you to perform at your peak in Japan. That's what you need to present for your travel schedule.

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  • +1. Leaving a day early is the silver bullet. A full day for rest beats flight time optimization, and it's normal to ask for it even from budget-constrained organizations.
    – Therac
    May 11, 2023 at 18:51
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It should be in the company's best interest that you give a good impression when there, for which it is most likely very beneficial that you are well-rested. A lot of money is being paid already for this.

In other words, the way the company gets most out of you being there, would be you coming in the day before and sleeping at a hotel. This might be a cultural thing about wanting to save money, but as I see it, from a business perspective this should not have been an issue in the first place, and you definitely should not pay for this. Most likely, the person booking the flight is not going him/herself so didn't think of it.

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    Right. The time difference between the US and Japan is about 11 or 12 hours. So, it is a good idea to arrive in Japan the day before the presentation, and have a good night rest/sleep. May 11, 2023 at 3:48
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    This is crucial. Even for short trips. Planning people that don't go themselves would rather plan a 6K trip that leaves you miserable and giving a 60% performance at best, instead of planning a 6.5K trip where you are at 100%. You really need to tell business people how to "business", otherwise they don't get it. Not having time to rest and relax is economically counterproductive.
    – nvoigt
    May 11, 2023 at 4:58
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    Good answer. In my experience, anyone booking travel for someone else usually just looks at the dollar cost of the trip and totally disregards the human cost - you get a layover instead of a direct flight, or a hotel in a more inconvenient location for the sake of "saving" a few dollars. Sometimes, as the person actually taking the trip, you need to point out that the cheapest itinerary does not make practical sense. May 11, 2023 at 16:02
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Is it proper to request a change in flight time under this scenario for reasons that benefit only me / for personal preferences only?

It's always proper to express your preferences.

Would I be setting a bad precedent for other employees needing to travel in future if I offered to pay my company the fare difference between the red eye flight and the flight leaving at a better time if the request is denied?

Perhaps.

If you think folks should be able to get a more expensive flight that better suits their personal needs, then offering to pay the difference tells others that they can only get this benefit if they can afford it.

You get to decide if this is the message you want to send or not.

How do I ask this to maximize the chances of approval?

Explain why this upgrade is a good thing for the company, and not just for you.

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Is it proper to request a change in flight time under this scenario for reasons that benefit only me / for personal preferences only?

It's a company flight, so asking for something that only benefits you would not be ok or professional.

However, chances are that as you are traveling as a team (10 +you as mentioned) you will all be going in the same flight, so changing things "only" for you would be difficult in that case.

Still, if you are all going in the same flight then you all are going to arrive tired and without much sleep, so this situation I think would not be a "just you" case if this were true. If such, politely pointing this out to your supervisor/manager could be a way to probe if there is chance for action here.

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    A good example of something that benefits only the employee would be "can we fly on this different airline because I collect points on it?" Arriving well rested and able to work benefits the company as well as the employee May 13, 2023 at 0:21
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    @KateGregory yup, being well rested is essential, and everybody needs a good rest, so I think this situation affects all people going to the trip
    – DarkCygnus
    May 13, 2023 at 1:06
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Would I be setting a bad precedent if I offered to pay my company the fare difference between red eye flight and flight leaving at a better time if request is denied?

No, that is not a bad precedent.

When you offer to pay for the fare difference, the company loses nothing in this scenario.

There are many cases when people from the same company travel separately to a conference due to their own busy work and family schedule. That has never been a problem.

For example, in your case, you can travel alone by yourself on your good flight to Japan. The rest of the team can travel on the red-eye flight if they want to, and they don't have to pay extra fare. (So, why would you think you might pressure your coworkers to pay anything extra ?)

Then, when you arrive in Japan alone, you can pay for your own transportation from the air port to the hotel (if the company insists) and other fees if necessary.

Again, the key is to make sure that you pay for all the extra costs and the company will NOT have to pay anything extra.

If your 10 team members can handle jet-lag well, and don't need to change the flight, let it be so. (No one pressures them to change their flight).

You do you to prepare well for the presentations, and pay for the extra fares and fees. The team members do themselves and don't have to pay anything extra.


How do I ask this to maximize chances of approval?

Tell your boss the truth: you want to have a good sleep during the night time in order to prepare well for the presentations the next day.

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    See edit. Precedent is for other employees not my company. I dont want to peer pressure them to pay out of pocket for additional expense
    – Anthony
    May 11, 2023 at 1:23
  • @Anthony, No pressure to your team at all. One scenario is that you travel alone and pay for all the extra fees in order to have a good sleep and prepare well for the presentations. The rest of the team can travel on the red-eye flight if their bodies can handle jet lag well, and they don't have to pay any extra fees. No pressure to anyone. May 11, 2023 at 20:19
  • @Job_September_2020 If I was on such a trip and one of my colleagues paid extra to ensure they could do their job properly, I would also feel pressure to do that, particularly if they were senior to me May 15, 2023 at 13:38
  • @mattfreake, I would not feel any pressure at all. If some workers don't have to do any presentation and only play a support role in the trip, and they can handle jet lag well, then they can take the red-eye flight. Only key workers who play the key role in the trip and want to be there early may think about the early flight. --- If my director or manager plays golf every Sunday, I would not feel any pressure to play golf with them. I won't want to play golf with them because I have my own plan. May 15, 2023 at 18:18

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