A Tale Of Two Cities: Front & Back of the Plane!

Jennifer Aniston’s recent commercial for Emirates has had her fans up in arms over her snobby behaviour.  I think the advert is quite funny if a tad snobby, highlighting the massive gulf in ‘the first class experience’ within carriers.

I think it’s great that certain airlines are offering a truly luxurious experience.  I’ve spent ages watching YouTube videos of people in the Singapore Airlines First Class Suites as it’s the closest I’m likely to get!  Whilst I wouldn’t ever pay out of my own pocket for this, I am desperately banking up my airmiles so that one day I might be able to get a one way upgrade.  A friend of mine recently flew Cathay First Class from New York to Hong Kong (her pics below). At 16 hours flying time, this is the flight you want to do in luxury.  She managed to bag a ticket through opening various credit card accounts and accruing airmiles.  Whilst this practice isn’t for everyone (apparently you don’t get a bad credit rating doing this in the US), if you keep on top of your cards and the mileage, then why not.

Cathay first class

The majority of my family’s longhaul flights are conducted in economy.  Once a year we bank up all our airmiles and pay for a Premium Economy ticket, then use our miles to upgrade to business.  Once onboard (particularly with the amazing product that is Cathay’s business class), you realise the parallel worlds people experience during any one flight.

From the outset, if I’m flying in business, my flying anxiety appears to go out the window and I don’t need to use ‘medical assistance’ aka valium.  In fact I look forward to spending 13 hours with my family trapped together in a luxurious tube.

It all starts with the delicious lounge experience.  Usually my kids are found rolling around on the floor of the Gate with me shouting at them.  In the lounge it’s a world of free food, magazines and booze!  You can pretty much rock up to the Gate within the nick of time and then be ushered straight onboard.  That said, I don’t normally have to queue when traveling with young kids but there is nothing quite like the smugness of ‘turning left’.

Turning left

Once you’re in your seat if you’re at the back of the plane you’re decanting your bags, dolling out snacks to keep the kids quiet and fighting for overhead locker space.  At the front there’s no fighting – there are pockets everywhere.  Little cupboards containing things like your own Bose headphones and a toiletry bag.  Kind hostesses are cooing over your children, giving them food and passing out the champagne to the adults.  The only downside as a parent is dealing with the evil stares from fellow business class passengers.  I totally get it, I would do the same.  But luckily I am a responsible fellow business class passenger who does my utmost to keep my kids under control (crying is tough but then I’ve heard more noise coming from snoring passengers…)

Nic in CX business

On an overnight flight, it’s so much easier to get your kids to sleep on that flat bed.  The only thing you need to worry about is whether they fall out.  At the back, you’re all jostling for space – inevitably both are laying across you and/or on the floor and it’s likely you’ve doled out the phenergan.  There’s no way of getting comfortable sitting bolt upright, your best bet is either a sleeping pill (sadly can’t really do that when traveling with kids) or a decent travel pillow.

Another thing I can’t get my head around is the marked difference in cuisine. Business passengers are treated to a silver service which includes a cheese course with port!  At the back is a dish that resembles slop and it’s a treat if you get a yoghurt.

Louisiana - Cathay Pacific Business Class

In business, if you fly it as rarely as I do, you’re almost gutted when it comes to an end.  No more free flow booze and movies and back to reality with a thud.  In economy every time you wake up, you still have 8 hours flying time until that magical moment the captain informs you it’s time for landing.

Now, there is a price to pay for this huge disparity in twelve hours of comfort.  Take a Hong Kong to London return trip with Cathay.  In economy it is approx. USD $800, then a whopping USD $8,000 for business and HKD $12,500 in first!  To me, that is a CRAZY amount of money.  We save our airmiles through spending on a Cathay credit card and my husband travels quite a bit with work so that adds to the pot.  Flying business on occasion is a perk that we all treasure and look forward to almost as much as the holiday itself.

Do you think it’s worth the extra spend to fly in luxury?  Have you experienced first class?  Would love to hear your stories…


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