First-class is an adult playpen of delight. But while everyone knows getting upgraded from Economy to Business is a get-out-of-hell-free card, most are unaware that getting upgraded from Business to First takes you into another one of Lucifer’s realms.
How so? This excerpt from “Class Struggles” – an article in The Economist’s sister publication 1843 – shows why.
“On another from Dubai to Vienna I was not just upgraded to first class, but granted my own mini-cabin complete with personal valet. I sat there in a state of delirium: eight hours in hell had been transformed into a paradise of houris and sherbet – or at least perfectly mixed Virgin Marys and an infinite supply of nuts.”
So far so bourgeois.
But flying first-class is not all caviar and cake:
“After a while my valet’s attentions began to pall: every few minutes he knocked on my door to ask if I needed anything. He brought hot towels and sacks of nuts and gallons of Virgin Mary refills. It was overwhelming: rather than relaxing over my meal and a film, I had to constantly fend off my valet’s unwanted attentions. But since he was such a charming fellow, I didn’t have the nerve to tell him to leave me alone. As we landed I entertained myself by studying the elaborate handset on my seat. It was only then that I noticed that the button marked ‘immediate service required’ had been left in the ‘on’ position.”
Alas, The Economist’s Mr Wooldridge is not the only one to impale himself on the Pointy End of the plane. In fact, Luc Wiesman, our Editor-in-Chief here at D’Marge has had a number of interesting experiences of his own.
On one first-class journey from Doha to Sydney, he recalls being mildly bemused that first-class passengers pay more than double the money for what is essentially a business class cabin with slightly fewer people and slightly bigger seats.
Plus – even if you ensure a layout difference from business class by booking one of Emirates’ or Singapore Airlines’ fully private first-class suites – it still seems a strange decision to shell out more than 200% more (for reference, a return Emirates business-class ticket from Sydney to Dubai costs about $7,000, while a first-class one costs about $20,000) for amenities which are only luxurious relative to the other sections of the plane (think about it: you wouldn’t consider a four by three metre room – no matter how private – extravagant back on the ground, would you).
Anyway – getting back on route – another first-class stress point Luc points out is food. How so? Well, although first-class has a few stand out pieces (hello, caviar), unless you’re Matt Preston, you’re not going to find a difference in quality between the staple menu items of First and Business, which leaves you wondering if you will ever get to grips with this world of opulence.
The staff are also much the same (if more attentive, which – as Mr Wooldridge’s tale reveals – is not always a good thing) and – even more insidiously – your experience (if you’re not a first-class ‘regular’ with endless greenbacks to burn) will likely put the rest of your holiday to shame.
But that all pales to one final faux pas: greed. Knowing this is the only chance they will get to luxuriate at such heights, it is common for business-class transplants to overindulge in first-class’ culinary, alcoholic and entertainment delights and – if travelling for business – arrive at their destination in need of a digestive tea and a nap more so than a high powered meeting.
The takeaway? Eat (and book) wisely.
By James Booth