I’ll be honest: I really deserve to fly business class. Not because I’m better than other people, but because I enjoy it so much. So much. If airlines understood the deep wellspring of pleasure I get from it, the Mariana Trench of joy, they would fly me everywhere in business simply because of the good it would bring the world.
Everything from the early boarding to how they hang up your coat before you sit down, the benefit of your own personal overhead bin, a real printed menu from which to choose meals and a seat bigger than Scotland. To be truthful, I probably deserve to fly first class for the same reasons. (Note to self: Research is in order.)
Dilemma: 2 seats up front, 2 seats in back
The problem is that flying business is still relatively rare for me and my family, involving special fares and accumulated miles. Recently we had the option of booking 2 business class tickets to America for Christmas…but it meant the other 2 tickets for our family would only be premium economy.
Sometimes you hear about celebrities flying first or business class while their children sit back in coach with the nannies. In Home Alone, Kevin is left behind precisely because his parents sit up front, unaware of the empty seat in back.
Is it OK to sip Champagne while the kids sit way back?
Now I had the dilemma of deciding whether it was OK for us to sit sipping Champagne in lie-flat beds while the kids sat in reclining seats — slightly better reclining seats than regular economy class, mind — in a different section of the plane.
It somehow didn’t feel very egalitarian. Are we teaching the children that they deserve less, should expect less just by dint of being children? Is this what family travel means to us?
Those questions lasted until my husband got ready to book the flights.
“You are OK with this, right?” he said, finger poised over the computer mouse.
Memories of economy
I have spent my fair share of time squeezed into a coach seat, jostling for an armrest with a greedy row-mate. I have brought along my own food to avoid the coach class “meal”. I have contended with a stiff neck and sciatica.
So really this wasn’t a question.
My husband pressed the button and this Christmas trip we luxuriated in full-length seats in a quiet cabin with especially attentive attendants. I popped back to see the kids a few times. “Why can’t we sit in business class?” they asked. We explained patiently: We only had enough miles for 2 of us. They were fine in the premium economy cabin. They had more cartilage in their skeletons, making coach class more comfortable for them.
They tried to convince us that on the way back they should be the ones to sit further up the plane. My husband replied — and I quote — “Ha ha ha!”
And you know what I realised? While they would enjoy aspects of it, much of the benefit would be lost on them. The kids don’t even drink Champagne. Sante!
Have you ever travelled in a better part of the plane than your children? I’d love to hear about your experience.