“Highest class of service only” in your employment contract?

I suppose this ‘trick' will only suit those who have balls of steel…how about asking for “highest class of travel only” in your employment contract?!


Imagine how much extra ‘income' you could gain every year if you simply upgraded yourself through right of employment. On the flip side this could go down like a lead balloon with your boss. Don't blame me if your reputation takes a knock if you try!

I personally know some people who have successfully agreed this with their employers, and reap huge mileage rewards. It's especially powerful as around Europe I haven't heard of miles or points being taxable as a benefit-in-kind…yet! Here's a quote from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs:

In general, air miles, petrol tokens, credit card points etc. acquired by an employee are not taxable if they were acquired in the same way as applies to any other member of the general public, for instance by buying goods or services on which such benefits are given,

Provided the vouchers, air miles or points belong to the employee rather than the employer, they are not considered as being provided by reason of their employment even if the goods or services giving rise to them happen to be purchased as part of the employee’s business travel or using a credit card provided by the employer.

Using the example of air miles, the benefit of the award of additional air miles will not be considered to be provided by reason of the employment even if the employee concerned only has the opportunity to be awarded those particular air miles because they’re going on a business journey for which the costs are met or reimbursed by the employer. But this is subject to the condition that the air miles are awarded to the employee from the outset in just the same way that the provider would award them to any other customer buying the same ticket or product.

In those circumstances, there is no need for the employer – or indeed the third party supplier of the air miles or reward/ profile points – to report these items to HMRC, or for the employee in question to enter them on a tax return if he or she gets one,

However, there is a tax charge on such items, if they are provided by reason of the employee’s employment.

This would be the case if the fact of the employment was a necessary antecedent condition to the receipt of air miles. An example of this would be where the employer purchased a block of air miles and distributed them to the employees, perhaps as part of an incentive scheme. Another example would be where there’s an arrangement for a third party to provide petrol tokens or some other form of award points specifically to employees of a particular employer but not to other customers.

It is important to remember that the exact tax treatment will depend on the facts of a particular case.

Who dares ask first? Unless you have huge negotiating power AND you're vital to your company's performance AND your company can afford to fly you in First Class everywhere (or bill it to their clients), you should probably keep on dreaming.

Or become self-employed.

About Tim

Tim is an engineer and a nerd who analyses every travel deal, travel hack. He has travelled to around 90 countries and also speaks Spanish, Portuguese and Mandarin.

More articles by Tim »


  1. Actually not all that complicated. I’m a consultant and I insist upon business class travel in all of my mandate letters. Haven’t lost a mandate so far because of it… First class might be “taking the piss” although I do know a lawyer who managed to get “seat 1A on BA First Class” as part of his deal in the Middle East…

    Harder to get away with in terms of an employment contract with a big firm that will have a set travel policy. Maybe if you were changing firms and they really really wanted you…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.