(Seinfeld Airport Episode, Courtesy of the Internet)
I admit it. I am a Business-Class-Kind-of-Girl. No, not the ‘Swingers’ movie Business-Class-Kind-of-Girl, where my ass is too big to fit in an economy seat, but the Seinfeld Business-Class-Kind-of-Girl, who has tried Business Class and has trouble going back to economy. The worst is when they make you walk past Business Class to get to economy, making you look at all these people being treated like royalty, condescendingly sipping their Champagne in your face smugly and gleefully. It makes me feel like Eileen in that Seinfeld episode: ‘Oh, no, please, don’t send me back there. Please, I’ll do anything. It’s so nice up here. It’s so comfortable up here. I don’t want to go back there. Please don’t send me back there…’ I don’t know anyone who has tried Business/First/PJ and is just dying to get back to Economy.
These days, I could just take a Business Class Flight for 12 hours and come back to London for all I care. I just want 12 hours to do whatever I want, without hearing ‘mummy!’ being screamed at me every two seconds, a husband requiring ‘attention’ and having to keep up the appearance of a ‘perfect’ life (which it never is, trust me). Everyone here in Business Class is smiling. The air must be better. This is a Happyland; nice people constantly making me feel so good, asking me ‘how are you’, ‘what can I get for you,’ ‘is everything Ok’ for once and bringing me food, magazines, and champagne at the tip of a button. I get to watch movies all day long without feeling guilty and actually read a whole sentence out of a book uninterrupted. What else could a girl ask for?
The High Miles Club
The best kind of Business Class flying, which I specialise in, is on Miles/Points, guilt-free Business Class flying, where everything feels better when it’s (almost) free. (There have to be some perks for your husband’s constant work travels and making you feel like a single mother). I have analysed all the possible and impossible routes using BA Miles and have gotten it down to an art. Flying to main business hubs and cities in the US/North America is relatively easy: New York, Chicago, LA, Toronto as well as other far away Business centers like Tokyo. Forget the Maldives, it is a very popular holiday destination, which is virtually impossible to book on miles, unless you book months and months in advance in the rainy season. From London, your safest warm destination is the Carribean, which is why I have been to Barbados more times than I care to discuss, St. Lucia, Mustique and Antigua. Other possible warm and sunny destinations include Bangkok, Cape Town and Brazil.
Men and Business Class
Men are equally as guilty of loving Business Class. Those in the know ask each other ‘Do you turn Right or Left on an airplane?’ which fuelled the famous line a Hedge Funder used to try to win his fiancé back: ‘I promise you will never have to turn Right on an airplane.’ I used to date a guy with a British Airways Gold Card, which was one of the few perks of him travelling all the time, until he ‘Seinfelded’ me (see Youtube video at top). One of our Business seats was given away (we got them on miles) and he made me sit in the ‘back of the bus’ while he was ‘in front’ in Business (using the excuse that he traveled so much that he needed his Business seat). Needless to say, this relationship did not last. A man’s attitude towards flying Business is really an entry into his mind. It’s very simple, those men who will take the Business seat instead of giving them to you will always put themselves/their jobs/their hobbies/their priorities in front of yours and you will just need to accept this for the rest of your life. Take it or leave it. Really, the first question a woman should ask on a first date should be: ‘If we had one seat in Business and one seat in Economy, which would you choose and which would you offer me?’ The same goes for men, if your date demands Business Class on your first trip together to the One & Only in the Maldives after 6 weeks of dating, good luck.
Children and Business Class
Now there is the dilemma of what to do with children and flying. Hugh Jackman recently told the Sunday Times Magazine that he flies economy with his children and First without them ‘when he’s working.’ Within the Notting Hill Mums set, it is typical for a three year old NHYM daughter to go on a domestic flight and push all the buttons before asking her mother: ‘Mummy, how do I turn this into a bed?’ Then there is the 5 year old who flies commercial for the first time (after his father loses his job during the recession) and asks his father ‘Daddy, who are all these people on our plane?’ Luckily, the father was clever enough to convince him that this kind of flying was much better; bigger airplane, more movies and games, more friends to make, and of course, flatbeds.
(Seinfeld Airport Episode, Courtesy of the Internet)
Economy and World Traveller Plus vs. Business
Who needs an overweight, slobbering, snoring guy who overtakes his half of the armrest and locks you in for the whole flight while some little shit kid is kicking the back of your seat while his mother smiles apologetically when you give her evil stares (but does absolutely nothing about it)? Then there are the wafts of the ‘Odeurs du Corps’ perfume (translated as ‘body odours,’ sounds so much better in French), a mix of BO and gastrointestinal gasses, the latter which have been proven to occur more frequently at altitude since gasses expand as pressure decreases (http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/scientists-support-breaking-wind-airplane-article-1.1265744). The air in Business Club is truly better. Then there are the poor air hostesses who have to endure the humiliation that they are ten years older and ten kilos heavier than their Business Class counterparts. I have cringed when I asked an Economy air hostess what kind of Red wine she was pouring me, and she replied’We only have two kinds of wine, Red and White.’
World Traveller Plus is really where I feel the most comfortable, since I can’t justify the price of actually paying for Business seats (which makes me sick thinking of how many houses with running water I could build in Africa for the price of one ticket), but can’t help feeling torn because I hate that I love Business so much.
First Class vs. Business
My analysis of First vs. Business is quite simple. There is not enough difference between First and Business to justify the price or the Miles. Although, there are still a lot of positives to First Class, I like the pyjamas but they only have two sizes, Medium and Large, and I quite simply look like I am wearing my husband’s workout clothes after a massive weight loss and gastric banding. They are also rather potato-sack unflattering. The Virgin Upper Class bottoms are better styled and more comfortable, I could wear them every day, so when you see someone walking down Westbourne Grove in Virgin Upper Class sweatpants, you’ll know it’s me.
What I also like about First Class is that the passengers are actually more civilized than Business Class passengers. When M took her first First Class flight at 7 months, everyone was smiling, cooing and wanting to hold her. She was treated like a First Class Baby. In Business, I have witnessed ‘airplane rage’ caused by her and other small children. Once when a woman was seated next to us complained for half an hour about having a two year old next to her (M), another time I watched in amusement a French couple who had been bumped to World Traveller Plus, ranting for half an hour while a happy family of five including three girls each in their own Business seat (the youngest was still sucking on her soother), watched them almost get thrown off the flight because they wouldn’t go to their World Traveller seat.
Private Jets vs. Business Class
Private jets are a whole other ball game. I personally don’t do very well on PJs, since I am claustrophobic and anything less than a G5 (Cessnas/Learjets) reminds me of getting in an MRI scan, with the loud buzzing noise and the feeling of a round white tunnel enclosing in on me. Makes me want to reach for a Xanax. I will never have enough money/friends with enough money to fly G5/G6/Boeing, so I will stick to commercial. The closest commercial flight that resembles flying private is the London City to NYC all-Business flight, (where I happened to be the only woman on the flight, and the only pregnant one, which took them by surprise. They handled me like a rare Chinese Ming porcelain statue). It has only around 18 seats and has its own lounge-straight-to-airplane with drinks and snacks to nibble on before the flight, which is good enough for me. But if you are like some wannabes I’ve met who dream of flying Private, there is a certain Private Jet Etiquette to be familiar with depending on the owner’s country of origin.
The Russians: The Russians specialise in ‘professional ladies’ without shame, who come on board to give them all kinds of ‘helping hands and mouths’ during the flight, offering the air hostesses 10,000 Euros for any extra help needed (this one politely declined). Then there is the 60 year old Russian who knows his limits with two 18 year olds, when he keeps it to a little massaging and caressing while Jessie J’s song ‘It’s all about the money’ blares in the background.
The Saudis: As soon as the flight becomes airborne, this International Private Jet Air Zone becomes Islam-free territory, the Hijabs have been forgotten at home, the wet bar is well stocked with Gin and Whiskey, cigarettes and cigars are smoked and alcohol fountains appear. You might as well bring on the pork crackling. Let the good times roll.
The Icelandics: Remember the days of smoking on flights? Still possible on PJs and the group of Icelandics who brought the Icelandic economy to its knees decided to stop over in Hawaii just to buy a $10 pack of cigarettes. Seems like they didn’t know how to make very good financial choices, professionally or personally.
The Americans: Promising his fiancé a mink fur coat, an American stops in Kiev in search of the fur coat, but his mission is ‘diverted’ by some ‘professionals’. He is a very generous man when he hears about the pilot’s cheating wife (the pilot found out after installing spy software in his house which took photos every 2 minutes of his cheating wife and colleague lover), he tells his friend, ‘Find a girl for the pilot and make sure she f**ks his brains out. I’ll pay.’ His fiancé never saw a fur coat
So there you have it. I am a Business Class kind-of-Girl. See you in Business, if I’m lucky.