The Upgrade Mindset & Contentment, Part I: How Considering the Three Cs Can Deliver


Just be realistic about the trade-offs in cost, comfort, and convenience

In travel, if you’re flexible, you can make amazing things happen. It’s possible to get great prices on great seats just by flying on the dates and routes where airlines have wholesale or distressed premium seat inventory. It’s that simple.

But life gets in the way of being flexible. Sometimes you can’t move the date (it’s Claudio’s graduation) or a kajillion other reasons.

This brings me to a guiding Upgrade Mindset philosophy: When you can’t be flexible, two out of three ain’t bad. Sing it, big fella…

And all I can do is keep on telling you

I want you (I want you)

I need you (I need you)

There ain’t no way I’m ever gonna love you

Now don’t be sad (don’t be sad ’cause)

Cause two out of three ain’t bad

Meatloaf. Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad. 1977

FCF’s 3Cs.

Here at FCF we see travel as a trilogy of Cs:

Cost: in dollars or miles or points

Comfort: class of service / seat quality

Convenience: dates, times, number of stops, routing, airport quality, layover time, etc.

The guiding principle is that when you’re not flexible, be content when you get two out of the three Cs.

This may not be a new concept to you. You may have heard of the Good / Fast / Cheap rule, often referred to in various types of projects, products, and services, and how you can only ever have two. It can be cheap and good, but it’s not going to happen fast. Or it can be good and fast, but it’s going to cost you a bundle. Or you can do it fast on a low budget, but it won’t be very good.

Travel is similar. You can achieve the three Cs, which we call the trifecta — and that should get the champagne corks popping. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen all the time. So, in those cases, be content with two.

2 out of 3 Cs: Some Examples

Example #1: Iberia Airlines Business Class flight New York to Bordeaux via Madrid. 

The cost is low (88,000 miles/points R/T). Tick. The seats are decent, so comfort is okay. The convenience level is low on this one, however, because the availability of award seats in this example dictated you return a day later than was ideal. That’s two out of three.

Example #2: United Airlines Chicago to Frankfurt.

You’re on a Business Class flight, so tick the comfort box. It’s a nonstop and on the date you want (Claudio’s graduation!), so tick the convenience box. BUT, it’s pricey, for both miles and dollars. But hey, two out of three ain’t bad.

Example #3: Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy flight Atlanta to London.

It’s nonstop so that’s a plus If you are going to London, because 14 routes depart the U.S. That’s a tick for convenience. You can get a price that’s nice, too. Tick the cost box. BUT, as for comfort, Virgin Atlantic’s Premium Economy seat width is ok, similar to Delta’s Business Class but not a very good recline if you want to get some sleep. Score two out of three.

Who Should Heed this 2 Out of 3 Thinking?

Perfectionists: Okay, you perfectionists, I get where you’re coming from. You’re going to be disappointed most of the time if you’re always going for perfection. Two out of three gives you an out. Try to do as well as you can within those parameters. If you’re very flexible, then maybe think about three out of three (more on this next month).

The cost-conscious, overly ambitious, and inflexible traveler: As comedian Steven Wright says, you can’t have everything; where would you put it?! You’re not a perfectionist as such, but you may go for one of the three Cs. Maybe you’re always looking at the cost. But that can come at a price — foregoing comfort and convenience even if you have to pay a little more this time around.

How to Be Happy While Ambitious

At FCF, we like to think of travel as an investment, not a cost. This subtle mindset shift can make a world of difference. If you view travel as a cost, you’re looking at it too transactionally, as opposed to transformationally.

No one who can’t afford a Mercedes is bent all out of shape when they have to buy a Buick. But in travel, people often fantasize about scoring a perfect deal, so when they don’t, they get upset. It’s weird what airline tickets do to people. Over fantasizing in travel is a recipe for discontentment.

So consider FCF’s three Cs for premium travel. Think realistically about your options and be content to pull the trigger on imperfect options without beating yourself up about it.

Then, after you’ve locked-in something, you can upgrade your Cs as you go. More on that one next month, too.

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