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Getting down to business class - By Rebecca Wicks

I just read that in light of the current economy, British Airways are seriously slashing their business class flight prices in a 4-day sale starting May 21st. London and North America Business Class fares will be cut by a mega 50%... but you know what, I still can’t flippin’ afford one.

The discount means you can get a return trip to New York for as little as AED 8,490- including all pesky taxes, fees and surcharges. London comes to AED 5,885 and Los Angeles AED 10,855. A bod from British Airways reckons:

“The ongoing global credit crunch continues to dent consumer confidence but these unbelievable fares are sure to attract the UAE’s business and leisure travelers; they represent our cheapest ever trans-Atlantic fares from the Emirates.”

Well, I’m sure they do, but somehow this offer is making me VERY upset, British Airways. I need to go to LA in September for a friend’s wedding and the dates covered by your promotion are just a few days short of when I need to travel. And yes, I do take this personally. Oh, and spending 10k for a seat on plane is ridiculous anyway. You could feed a small orphanage for a week with that much money.

But there’s another problem here... and I lower my head in shame of my petulance. I’ll admit I’m feeling somewhat hard done by now, because of the fact that I know better than economy, and yet I am stuck there. I’ve seen the other side, and yet it remains untouchable. I’m the bird in a cage looking out at the big wide world; the cat who can’t quite get her paw into the fish tank; Dorothy, wishing for Earth from Oz. I know what’s out there, but there still aren’t enough credit cards with free air-miles, or whirlwind airline promotions with enough power to get me back.

My little uncomfortable travel bubble was burst a few months ago when I was treated to a super-comfy business class seat on a flight back from Hong Kong. Ever since then, the way I view flying has changed. The way I view airports has change. The way I view the WORLD has changed!

For starters, there’s the pick-up service. When you pay enough for a ticket, you get picked up. From your house! There’s no stinking cab journey to the airport, no queuing to check in, no getting bashed about the ankles by an over-zealous mother of five with a trolley… and then it’s straight on through to the lounge. Previous to my business class encounter I would shuffle past this sacred section to my hard, plastic seat in the economy waiting area, pay for a nasty overpriced sandwich and pray that the hour before my flight would pass quickly without pain. I would wonder what people did in that hallowed space behind the glass, how the other half spent their time before take-off. Soon, on that momentous occasion of discovery, I found my imaginings weren’t too far off the truth. Free-flowing champagne, all you can eat little sandwiches, a home cooked breakfast… you can even have a mani/pedi in a spa if you want! Magazines are free. People don’t sleep on the floor. It’s beautiful.

Then of course, much to your dismay and halfway through your fourth glass of champers it’s time to get on the plane. Never mind, more champers awaits. The staff know your name and ask you how you are. Drunk, is your reply. You put your seat right back, plump up your pillow and settle in for your luxurious journey. Maybe watch a movie on your 20 inch screen, with the comfort of your padded headphones. If you want something, you ask and it’s there. No buzzing repetitively, squashed in the middle, ignored as a fat man drools on your arm in his sleep and a screaming child pierces your earplugs and threatens to bring the plane down.

I ask you, now that I’ve been to the front of the plane, how can I go back? British Airways needs to think about who they’re upsetting when they dangle such promotions in our faces. They mean well, but sometimes... well, I could just cry. It’s not all their fault, I suppose. What I’ve seen before has ruined me. What previously would have been a dreaded 17 hour flight to LA, is now a dreaded 17 hour flight to LA in economy, as people lounge fully reclined ahead of me in a world of luxurious business I may never know again.

Posted: 21 May 2009

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