Sunday, August 7, 2011

The (comfortable) way home

If you ever have the chance (ie, money) to fly Business Elite (or first class or whatever your airline calls it) on an international flight ...


I was not looking forward to the long flight from London to Boston at the end of my five days in London with friends Katie and Amanda. It had been go-go-go every day and all I wanted to do was sleep. I just cannot sleep on a plane. And although I had purchased an Economy Comfort seat -- featuring extra legroom -- it was still an economy seat. My chances of a decent nap were slim to none.

On the flight to London, I’d managed a few cat naps. Although my post-dinner cat nap was interrupted when the guy next to me spilled a full cup of coffee on my lap. I was not happy.

So, the flight home loomed ahead, and I was dreading it.

Security and customs at Heathrow went quicker than I expected. After Amanda stocked up on Bounty bars, we headed to the gate. It was a little chaotic, as a flight for New York was boarding and people for the Boston flight were milling around (in other words, people in boarding zone 4 were standing around, blocking traffic).

While we were sitting and talking, I thought I heard our last names over the intercom. It was hard to tell what they were saying, as it was noisy and I have a horrible time understanding some British accents. As we walked up to the counter, we heard our names called again ... more clearly this time.

There was a line of people, five people behind the counter and only one person helping people. It took a bit to figure out what was going on, but we finally learned we were getting upgrades.

I was positively giddy.

Our free Business Elite seats split us up, but we were fine with that. After five days of doing pretty much everything together, we didn’t feel the need to sit together on the plane. Anyway, those two don’t talk to people when they fly. They’re no fun.

I was in row 10, which was the last row of the Business Elite cabin. Each seat was its own little console area. One console at the window, two in the middle, another that the other window.

Each seat had a nice little table area, reading light, USB port, power outlet, pop-out tray table (which needed a 10-page user manual to pop back in), a remote control in the arm, and the touch-screen monitor in the back of the seat in front of you.

And tons of leg room. Oh, the leg room! Can you be giddy on top of giddy?

Your leg room was under the console of the seat in front of you. Each seat reclined totally flat. My legs were just a bit too long for the available leg room. But did that really matter? No, it didn’t. The fact my seat reclined flat made up for that.

Did I mention the full-size feather pillow and quilted blanket? And that the seat had mild lumbar massage? Seriously.

As I was getting settled, a flight attendant stopped by -- “orange juice or mimosa?” Mimosa, of course!

And shortly after the plane took off, we got little dishes of nuts and drinks.

Lunch was a three-course affair. The appetizer was Thai-spiced cold shrimp with coucous, with an optional bowl of carrot-ginger soup. The mixed green salad had nuts and goat cheese. The main course was chicken with asparagus and mashed potatoes (which is what I got); something beefy; or a plate of cold cuts. The wine list was quite extensive. I didn’t eat much of the main course, as the appetizer and salad were plenty.

Oh, did I mention the dessert cart? Tarts, cookies and ice cream sundaes. Yum, ice cream sundae. Berry AND chocolate sauce.

After lunch I took a nap, utilizing the full recline on my seat. Put on my eye mask, curled up with my pillow and blanket, and caught some sleep. Quite a switch from the flight to London. And no one spilled coffee on me this time!

Drinks were refreshed frequently. The pre-landing snack options were a ham and cheese sandwich or a salad. We were planning on eating at Legal’s Test Kitchen in the Boston airport, so I skipped the snack.

The only bad thing about my seat was it was in the last row of the Business Elite cabin, near the bathroom and one of the galleys. A bit smelly and noisy at times, but I really didn’t care. I was flying Business Elite ... for free! ... on an international flight.

I’m still giddy thinking about it!

1 comment:

  1. And as a bonus, Delta refunded the $40 I had paid for the Economy Comfort seat!


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