Business Class

I travelled overseas a while back.  I was tasked with an important mission for private enterprise so I flew Business Class.    Business Class Travel has a lot to offer the practiced observer of the human condition. Just arriving at the airport for example offers an appreciation of the phenomenon known as the democratisation of travel.  Let me explain.   

When the Business Class Traveller walks into a crowded terminal, and casts his eyes over the endless snaking queue for the Economy class check in – so lengthy that it blocks the entrance to the terminal he may choose to pause for a moment, adopt a slightly bewildered expression, and let those in the queue observe his apparent confusion.   The faces of those in the queue will tell a story.  Hah, get to the back of the line and wait like the rest of us they seem to say.  But instead of scuttling away from their baleful glare, the Business Class traveller, as a result of the benefits conferred by status, can step confidently forward on a path bisecting the queue.  The waters will part deferentially, allowing an effortless glide to the better quality check-in with its own inconsequential queue and its welcoming attendant, whilst those waiting in the crush have their plight made just that little bit more bearable by knowing what can be achieved if they try just that little bit harder in life. 

After completing the formalities at the check-in counter, the Business Class traveller will be handed a boarding pass in a little paper envelope. Airlines have spent considerable sums ensuring that the colour scheme on Business Class boarding passes are clearly distinguishable from Economy. They have also spent considerable sums ensuring that the dimensions of the boarding pass are just right.  The experienced Business Class traveller knows to take the boarding pass from the paper envelope and place it in his shirt pocket, where due to clever design, a very large part of it will poke out the top.  This allows it to be readily seen and admired, and its owner to be appropriately acknowledged.  The paper envelope itself is then dropped into the nearest recycling bin to offset the carbon emissions for the forthcoming flight.  This Business Class Traveller at least, is thoughtful like that.   

An important benefit of Business Class is that one doesnt have to hang around the departure gate with the less fortunate. One can avail oneself of The LoungeThe Lounge according to the check-in staff, is near the gate, and this Business Class traveller can barely describe the thrill of entitlement, as he moves gracefully through the sprawling detritus of steerage with its duty free goods and carry-on rubbish, toward the stairway – or in this case – escalator to heaven. If the huddled masses hadnt noticed his prominently displayed boarding pass then they must have certainly noticed his purposeful stride as he alights upon the polished gold plated escalator, and is taken skyward toward The Lounge and a welcome respite from observing the rude, tasteless reality of mass travel. 

Imagine the Business Class travellers surprise though, when after triumphantly entering through the gilded automatic doors of The Lounge and presenting his boarding pass to the doorman, he is calmly informed that this is the First Class Lounge, and he isnt invited in.   

“The Business Class lounge is two floors below”, says the smiling doorman.

How do I get there? says the Business Class Traveller.  His voice quivering as though not being able to remember whether the first stage of grief was anger or denial. 

You need to return the way you came Sir, says the filthy class traitor in the monkey suit.  Feigning politeness whilst inwardly mocking.

Somehow The Business Class Traveller doesnt trust himself to retrace his steps as gracefully and confidently as before. 

Is there a back way? He enquires in a slightly dignified manner.

He is handed a little map with arrows marking the way.  There is some relief in knowing that this is not the road less travelled.   He takes the convoluted and mercifully empty corridors and service elevators past the scullery to the Business Class lounge.   

At the entrance to the Business Class lounge, the Business Class traveller is finally granted admission.  There he scans the length and breadth of the lounge and observes people of an objectively measurable equivalent status.   If no one lifts their head, from their free newspapers, if they continue to sip their free booze, if the general hushed murmur of the room remains unaltered in tone then our hero can enter the Lounge, safe in the knowledge that no one suspects a thing.    

Finally, after coming through this confronting ordeal unscathed, the Business Class Traveller can put up his feet and wait for the call to the gate and beyond into the cabin and the promise of horizontally reclining seats. There our hero, before nodding off to a fitful six hour sleep, may peacefully contemplate the phenomenon of the democratization of travel without the unpleasentness of experiencing the less democratic parts of the aircraft first hand.

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Fyodor
14 years ago

You should try the Chairman’s Lounge. They hide that one.

Doctor Patient
Doctor Patient
14 years ago

Rex, the reason you experienced some unpleasantness is because of our frequent flying group: politicians and some VIPs. They have abused staff; raided the complimentary cheese and crackers caddy in the Gold Wing Lounge; knocked off ashtrays; knocked off glasses; and, generally they have lowered the tone of the whole flying experience.

I need only mention the ‘Butlers of Tasmania’ to remind people that hoon type behaviour is not restricted to those who own and drive a fully worked Datsun 120Y.

Allowing politicians and some VIPs onto aircraft with the taxpayer picking up the tab is a recipe for disaster and has removed the excitement of flying. Now, staff are so jaded after have to deal with our elite hoon class that their attitude extends to all of us.

Liam
Liam
14 years ago

Dr. Patient, if you fully worked a 120Y, you’d still end up with a 120Y. What you want is a Datto 1200 and a turbocharger to really go to hoontown.
Anyway, the first-class hoons eschew the four-cylinder rat race and opt for the power plant of the truly elite: the rotary. You can keep the quietness of the Brideshead Lounge, give me the noise of excited young idiots packed into an RX-7.
And then of course there’s the Platinum Fully Double-First Class.

Tony T.
14 years ago

Next time, Comrade Rex, fly economy. You’ll feel better.

Rex
Rex
14 years ago

DP, I follow your drift. I also note that for all of Mr. Howards talk of being pro-business, he never deigns to travel Business Class, and once he’s given the boot he’ll be getting free travel in the pointy end for life. We’ll never ever see him in the Golden Wing Club trying to make a sandwich-to-go out of a cube of Coon cheese and two Ritz crackers, while gulping down the third can.

If Mr. Howard was ever one of us, he is one of us no more.

There’s an angle for Mr. Rudd going begging methinks.

Rex
Rex
14 years ago

I feel fantastic as it is Tony.

Nabakov
Nabakov
14 years ago

When asked what his preferred mode and class of travel was, Peter Cook replied “being beamed.”

passing through
passing through
14 years ago

Larry Adler used to like flying business class.

Amanda
14 years ago

I’m flying economy tomorrow. But its economy on an A380 so its a much cooler sort of slumming it.

Jc
Jc
14 years ago

You need a Gulfstream, Rex, or go that extra mile and get a Global Express as you seem way past business class riff raff adn poor service. There’s far too many rich people around these days :-)

Ah for the good things a recession brings. I recall the a fully paid (corporate) economy ticket in the early 90’s would get you a one leg with the Concorde across the pond if you flew Air France. The flight attendants were gorgeous as only French gals can be.

David Rubie
David Rubie
14 years ago

Mmmm, business class.

Ex employer used to fly everyone, everywhere, business class. First trip overseas? business class. Second trip overseas? Used friendly travel agent, traded business class ticket for two economies, 3 weeks of accomodation and car hire in California (not sure you can do that now though – the price differential has dropped substantially).

Worst experience? Being shown window seat on flight to Joburg just before seeing the entire Highlanders Super-14s team file up the stairs. Those seats are comfy for normal size folk, but those enormous bastards take up monstrous amounts of room and they all snore. Plus they make the hosties grumpy.