Monday, December 03, 2007

Long haul flights

Ever since airlines upgraded their business class cabins on long haul flights with seats that turn into completely flat beds, I've thought that business class had something significant to offer travellers beyond economy class. Even with flat beds though, I'd find it hard to get to sleep on a flight, except that I got a good tip from a colleague many years ago.

"Right GB, I'm going to go to sleep now, so I'll see you when we get back to London," says my colleague sitting next to me on a flight back from Singapore in the early 1990's.

"I don't know how you can sleep on planes," I reply, resigning myself to my usual fate of watching the drab in-flight entertainment.

"Actually it's simple," says my colleague with a glint in his eye, "I take drugs :-). Would you like some?"

Suddenly the conversation has become rather interesting! He hands me a small bottle and I look at the label.

"Drugs?" I say sounding a bit disappointed, "These are just sleeping pills aren't they?"

"Yes of course," laughs my colleague, "sleeping drugs! But I get my doctor to prescribe me some good ones. On long haul flights, they're just what I need to get a decent night's kip :-)."

Ever since then, I've also started using sleeping pills on long flights. So with the combination of flats beds plus my favourite drugs, these days I find that I really can arrive in a city after a long haul flight feeling reasonably refreshed.

The British Airways layout, which involves half the business class passengers facing the front and the other half facing the back of the plane, seems to work particularly well. I think it may even have been British Airways who introduced the first truly flat beds into a business class cabin. The problem is that I've become such a fan of the BA flat bed arrangement that a few years ago, I found myself paying for BA's business class when I needed long-haul flights to go on holiday to Australia with boyfriend number 1. And having done it once, paying for business class seats on long-haul flights has become a bit of a habit. Although I can afford to do this at the moment, I'm also aware that I may not always be so lucky. If I have to go back to economy class at some point, it'll be quite a shock.

However, not everyone I know approves of me flying business class when I'm paying for it:

"GB, can you pick up something for me the next time you're in New York?" asks boyfriend number 3 the last time I saw him.

"You should have asked me a couple of months ago," I reply, "because I was there in October."

"Well next time you're there then, I guess," says boyfriend number 3. "Or if you're feeling kind," he continues with a smirk in his voice, "perhaps you could find time just to hop over there and back for me?"

"If you need it urgently, why don't you get it sent? That would be much cheaper than my £2.5k air fare!"

"HOW MUCH?" asks boyfriend number 3 sounding shocked, "It doesn't cost anything like £2.5k to fly to New York and back."

"Errrr, I think you'll find it does, in business class at any rate!"

"Bloody hell! That's so extravagant GB!! Think what you could do with all that money. Right, the next time you go to travelling, I think you should go economy class and donate the rest of the money that you'd have spent on a business class fare to charity somehow."

The interesting thing is that boyfriend number 2 likes his comforts and has the opposite attitude. Having visited Argentina last year, we're now planning another holiday together for January. We'll both be travelling from the cities where we live and meeting up in South America again, so naturally I'm going to fly BA business class and boyfriend number 2 knows it.

"GB?" says boyfriend number 2 recently during one of our regular phone conversations, "have you got any air miles you could use to upgrade me to business class on my outbound and inbound flights?"

"That might work, I'm not sure," I reply. "I guess I could look into that for you."

"Well you're travelling business class from London, aren't you?"

"Errr yes, of course. But I was at least five years older than you before I started paying for business class flights for myself!"

"Awwww," moans boyfriend number 2, "do I have to wait that long?"

"Well, any flights that we ever travel together, we'll always be in the same cabin. I'll never travel business class and and put you in economy."

"Well OK. But, you know, business class is so much nicer ..."

So I'm now feeling a bit guilty. At present boyfriend number 2's tickets are provisionally booked in economy class. I don't think my air miles are any help. Does anyone think I should pay a few extra £k to upgrade boyfriend number 2 into business class?


Anonymous said...

BA! Pah!

You haven't lived until you've been in Virgin Upper Class.... Truly flat beds (BA's aren't quite flat apart from the very very new ones still being rolled out).

And much better looking help as well! ;)

deBréauté said...

Top tip for sleeping on planes: always sleep head-to-nose.

Aeroplanes do not fly horizontally but at about 5% (try walking from tail to nose). Thus, if you sleep in the "traditional" direction, your head will be lower than you feet.

And you really should be flying first class long-haul. I don't know how anyone can cope with being crammed in with dozens of strangers in a business class cabin for 10-16 hours.

GB said...

Actually Tommo, BA I was told this morning that BA now has it's new flat beds on all routes except three. I have done Virgin Upper Class before of course, but I think the number of global destinations is very limited compared to BA.

That's an interesting comment Alex, because when I fly in BA business class, I always choose the seats that face the back of the plane, so I'm automatically sleeping with my feet lower than my feet. Perhaps sub-consciously I've worked out I sleep better in those seats for the reason you mention. But First Class? I reckon the quality of the service between First and Club World isn't that great, and that one only flies in First for privacy. I honestly don't think that I'm that precious!

Anyway, doesn't anyone want to alleviate my guilt in regarding boyfriend number 2 holiday tickets?

GB xxx

Superchilled said...

I think it's important to have independence within relationships, and depending on you for upgrades for his flights is setting a bad precedent for boyfriend number 2. If he wants to see his boyfriend #1 in The Maldives in business class, are you going to be funding it? Upgrade him when he's on the same plane - but otherwise let him work his way through the classes. It's character building.

The last thing you need is boyfriends 1 through 10 on GB pensions...

deBréauté said...

I'm afraid I am that precious, GB (plus there's a very high-maintenance bf to keep happy). However, it is nearly always possible to fly first on BA or less than the cost of business if you know how!

indian18 said...

GB, don't give in!Trevor is very right indeed!

Masturbedroom said...

BF2, if you are reading this: naughty, naughty!

GB, what's your main concern here? Spoiling BF2; or spending money that you had planned for other purposes? If it's the latter then I suppose the solution will be simpler. If it's the former, have to work it out for yourself!

Sir Wobin said...

I'm with Trevor. BF2 is already going to get great service at his destination. Let him slum it a bit on the way there. ;-)

Doesn't he have less distance to cover anyway?

Anonymous said...

I don't think you should pay for BF2 to go in business. I mean, a) you're not married and b) if he wanted to indulge his passions for such comforts, he probably should have studied finance or economics or something potentially lucrative. You shouldn't have to compensate him for poor choices he made in his life. Perhaps poor choices is a bit harsh, but you made certain choices (i.e. to pursue a career in banking to the detriment of some other passion of yours-- assuming banking isn't your real passion), so why should you subsidize someone else's choice to pursue his passion instead of something practical. (I have no idea what BF2 does for a living but you get my point).

Anonymous said...

Faggots like you should get eaten by Mike Tyson.

Unknown said...

To be honest being a student at the moment where every penny counts and working long hours etc, my initial reaction to somebody paying 2.5k for a flight would be 'how much! I could pay for a few entire holiday's with that'

But on the flipside, I have to admit if I was earning the money (which I fully hope to be oneday!) and could afford to go Business/First class etc I probably would, and if somebody was hinting or asking me to upgrade them i'd probably feel a bit used, but if it was just something i'd decided to do as a nice surprise I wouldn't see a problem.

Hope that makes some vague sense :)

SP x

Monty said...

I don't think you should feel guilty about flying business or first class GB. And I think it's a bit precious on the part of BF2 to EXPECT an upgrade from you. If you offered it, well then, that's great for him. To me, it just sounds like he's after a sugar daddy.

Anonymous said...

Hi GB,

I'm afraid I don't fully understand why you are soliciting your community of readers for advice on this issue; the desire to upgrade your boyfriend, I think, should come from within rather than from an external stimulus. Similarly, your "guilt" evinces that you would only do it to save your own conscience, not because you actually feel that it's necessary (or even appropriate)...I think those are fundamentally wrong reasons to do it.

That said (and since you are asking for advice hehe), I feel like one of the reasons for my existence to bring happiness to others. As such, if it won't place you under any financial duress to upgrade your boyfriend, I think it's the right thing to do.

In either case, both BA and AF have come up with refined yet understated business class products. I don't think it's excessive or de mauvais goût at all, particularly not when you compare with what first class has become on Singapore Airlines or on Emirates.


GB said...

Well indeed Trevor, the idea of a harem of boyfriends with GB pensions is terrifying. But the thought did make me giggle!

Actually Alex, whenever I book business class for holidays, the travel agents I use seem to get it much cheaper than the published fare. Last time I did that though, I also ended up with some hotel bookings which I didn't want, so perhaps I haven't yet found the cheapest way of doing it.

I haven't given in yet indian18, but I've got to hold out for quite a few more weeks before it's certain!

I don't think boyfriend number 2 reads my blog that much Masturbedroom, but after Trevor had left his comment I pointed it out to him to see what his reaction would be. Actually, I sometimes wish he read this blog a bit more and left a few comments occasionally, but I know he's very busy at the moment.

I certainly hope that boyfriend number 2 and myself will be able to enjoy each other's company while we're on holiday together Sir Wobin :-).

Actually niceguy1, boyfriend number 2 might end up earning a lot of money one day. Of course, if he ever does, I might start expecting him to upgrade MY plane ticket!

I used to be a student too SP, and when I was, I think I had exactly the same attitude that you do. People like you and boyfriend number 3 make me remember that £2.5k can go a very long way if it has to.

I think the art of this type of blogging Monty is to report a little self-contained conversation which in one sense is trivial, but which in the context it's put in is quite interesting. Needless to say, most of the conversations I have with boyfriend number 2 (or anyone else for that matter) don't get reported here, so it's harder for you to judge boyfriend number 2's intentions. But because I do know all my conversatons with boyfriend number 2, I really don't think that he's just after a sugar daddy.

Thanks for the thoughts Édouard. Although everyone else seems to think that I shouldn't upgrade boyfriend number 2, I knew it should be possible to make out a case the other way round so thanks for finding it :-).

GB xxx

deBréauté said...

GB, the best way to get cheap First Class flights on BA is to start your journey in Europe. I recently paid £2,400 for AMS-LHR-SIN-LHR-AMS in F compared to the usual F LHR-SIN-LHR fare of £6,300. As it's a full-fare F ticket not a discounted A class ticket you don't have to do the AMS-LHR leg the same day. So you can have a weekend in Amsterdam and a few days/weeks/months later do the Singapore leg. You've got to start the journey in Europe or the rest of the ticket is invalid but you can chuck away the final sector if you want (I usually book a stop-over in London of a few months and use the final sector to go and start a new trip). Depending on where BA is trying to drum up business, you can get ridiculously cheap tickets starting on the continent (Stockholm is really cheap at the moment but it changes often). A couple of years ago the bf & I went to Sydney in First for £1,200 each starting in Tripoli (a bit of a hassle with Libyan visas but we got to see Leptis Magna which is amazing and I saved over £15,000 on the normal fare).