Well-heeled travellers sleep on planes. Stretched out on their lie-flat beds after a few glasses of French champagne and scallops buerre blanc prepared by affable on-board chef Miguel, they effortlessly drift off for the night, woken only by the smell of freshly-baked pastries and espresso coffee wafting through the first-class cabin.
And the rest of us? Well, we just sit there. And drink. And watch mindless trash on a seven inch screen while accepting whatever monkey mash the cabin crew are serving up. Some understandably use such long-haul ordeals to wonder why they didn’t work harder at school.
Air travel is the great organiser of the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’, sorting those who are forever seated up the back of cattle class – right next to the toilets – from those who have never actually seen what (and who/what) exists on the other side of that first class curtain. Bastards.
While some lament the demise of the romantic era of travel – the golden years before budget airlines opened up the skies to the Bali-touring, beer swilling, upgrade-demanding masses – those who still insist on living the BOSSROYAL lifestyle at 35,000 feet remain spoiled for choice.
Depending on the length of the flight, the best first-class tickets can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Big money to be sure, but for that dosh one is treated to an experience that starts well before it’s time to board the silver bird. Chauffeur transfers, express check-in, private lounges and pre-flight massages are just some of the delights one can expect before that ‘final call’. Indeed, some airlines are trying to create such exclusive experiences both on the ground and in the air that some first class passengers will be lucky to even lay eyes on us ‘up the back’.
On-board, though, is where shit gets real and those high prices paid for first-class travel sort the men from the boys.
Designer pyjamas (and slippers), toiletry sets with high-end toothpaste, top shelf wines and liquors, the finest food and silver cutlery are a ticket to the game these days. Middle Eastern carriers like Emirates and Etihad – and Asian carriers like Singapore Airlines – are raising the stakes and taking first class travel to a whole new level.
For those fatcats outraged at the thought of sharing the first class cabin with, gasp, five others, there’s always the first class suite option offered by a few of the commercial carriers, including Singapore, whose are designed by French luxury yacht interior designer Jean-Jacques Coste. This is your own private Idaho or den of sin, complete with mini-bar; it’s up to you.
And so, behold, three of the plushest first class cabins in the skies; next time you’re sandwiched between a rotund stinker and a jabbering chatterbox on a long-haul flight, just know that, only a few metres from you, some swank is declining a second glass of Krug and ‘will pass’ on the freshly baked soufflé. You’re welcome.
What do you think? Would you pay $15,000 to fly from Singapore to Los Angeles? Is first class the mode of travel for pretentious posers with more money than sense? Or are we just envious of the rich – and riches – that await behind that curtain?