Sometimes you’re lucky. Really lucky, like when your airline has overbooked monkey class, and a gate manager with sound judgment spots you in the crowd and knows immediately that you are chic enough to sit with the business class segment.
I was that lucky when I was on my way back from New York in the spring. Upgraded to business class with all that it entails of real cutlery, clinking glasses, red wine at 10 AM (normal rules don’t apply in the air), foie gras and champagne, cheese platters and port, Häagen Dazs and, of course – the all-time favourite, representing an estimated value of 5 dollars – the sponge bag with all its treasures! Oh, the wonderfully deform tube sock, designed to fit sizes 3 through 13; the sleep mask; the unisex shampoo/conditioner/body wash and matching fruit flavoured lip balm (the more outrageous the flavour, the better – grapefruit & mint, anyone?); the toothbrush and the cute mini toothpaste; the disposable razor, guaranteed to give you a rash; and last, but indeed not least, the foldable plastic hairbrush with its built-in mirror. If you read this and think that I am mocking the sponge bag, you are dead wrong – I love it with the heart of a 10 year-old girl!
An important part of the unique upgrade experience is the profound joy felt by all Danes when we get something we didn’t pay for. Thus, the thought of all the money I didn’t spend on the extra food, comfort and service sends delightful shivers down my spine. Yes, I’m that person. The automatic seat – with its massage function (!) – becomes a little bit softer, the ice cream creamier and the air hostess prettier.
I will postulate that most of the business travellers (still mostly men, for reasons I am sure deserve their own blog) on flights around the world are not paying for their own tickets. As such, they could theoretically join me in a jubilant celebration of all the freebees they receive every time they travel halfway around the globe to (insert action that might have been handled over Skype – at least every third time). But here’s the crazy bit: THEY DON’T!
Granted: The sponge bag may lose its glamour (yes, I wrote glamour – and may) when travel sized shampoo/toothpaste/deodorant/lube(?) falls out of your bathroom cabinet whenever you open it. When your dermatologist keeps asking you to stop using those razors, for the love of God! And when your special someone refuses to kiss you because your lips taste like Japanese candy (apologies to my countless, Japanese readers). And granted: Anyone who takes advantage of all the lovely offerings in the business class section of a long-haul flight on a bi-weekly basis will soon be a fat alcoholic.
But the man sitting next to me on my business class trip did not partake of any of the temptations on offer. I was almost insulted on behalf of…well, I don’t know really. Maybe just myself? He almost immediately inserted his earplugs and went to sleep while I was still excitedly playing with my chair, mentally clapping my hands and jumping up and down, as I felt it recline endlessly until it was in fact a small bed. More about that in a bit.
While I was eating a four course menu with wine, going through the wonders in my sponge bag, watching several films (flying is such an excellent occasion to catch up on the lowbrow cinema you’ve missed – not that I’m too updated on the highbrow stuff these days, come to think of it) and marvelling at the size and cleanliness of the business class toilets, all this man did was sleep. He even told the air hostess before putting on his sleep mask (HAH – he must also have enjoyed the sponge bag! Proves that he was human) that he did not want to be woken up for breakfast. But he wasn’t the only one. When I took a brief moment to look up from “Date Night”, I realised that most of the people around me were businessmen. And they had all made beds of their chairs and were all sleeping. Looking like cute, little school boys in their matching blue shirts. Clutching their pillows, all rosy cheeks and ruffled hair. It was all I could do to stop myself from tucking them in. Hard to imagine at that moment that as soon as the plane would touch down, they would immediately be back in full business mode, making important phone calls on their important iPhones.
Despite my busy schedule on the seven hour flight, I did find some time to rest as well. And that is when it occurred to me how, with all its extra comfort and personal space, the business class section is much more intimate than economy. In economy you sort of expect everyone to be equally uncomfortable in their search for rest. So you might see your neighbour drooling on the shoulder of his acrylic jumper while he is snoring. But that’s all to be expected, so it’s not really shocking. However, waking up in a “bed”, with your dress pulled up enough so that your slip is showing, to find that you are staring straight into the face of a strange man in his late forties, can be rather upsetting. Personally, my initial thought was “dear God, NO!!” My shock did not diminish when I looked further down to see that we were both strapped down with belts. Did I join the Kinky Mile High Club without remembering? Instinctively I checked my dress for traces of blood and other DNA material and finally snapped out of it when I saw the sick bag in the seat pocket in front of me. It didn’t help that the purser was practically raping the PA system. With more air on her voice than a marathon runner at 32 kilometres, her request for passengers to “kindly return the seats to an upright position” sounded so insinuating that I almost blurted out: “But we weren’t doing anything – honestly!” In fact, I think we barely exchanged three words on the whole trip.
Sadly, my subsequent trips to Paris and Rome did not come with upgrades, which is a problem, as I have now come to expect a certain level of service and food quality and have become somewhat reliant on that glass of morning wine. Well, I suppose I’ll just have to become a high level business executive, then. Sigh. I had other plans this week, but I guess a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. Anything to get my hands on that sponge bag!
If you would rather read this post in Danish, please go to my Danish blog Stakit, kasket, stafet