I used to get upgraded to Business or even First Class when flying abroad with video crews for Preview Travel, the company that helped inspire Triporati. It was amazing! Massages in-flight, champagne, full beds, fresh and well rested upon arrival, I even felt like I got more oxygen! I never tired of the groovy toiletries kits and I still have some of the products these many years later. Would I ever pay for it…no. Would I ever use my frequent flyer miles to upgrade…maybe for a long haul flight.
As coach service has become worse and worse, the lure of Business and First Class seems more appealing. Yet with the cost so high, one feels like a kid looking at candy or toys through a shop window: it’s there but so out of reach. I chuckled recently when I read about how the downturn in the economy has hit business and first class travelers hardest…seems we are all flying cattle car coach these days.
Triporati Producer Gwynn Gacosta recently returned from a trip to the Philippines and has this take on the issue of “Class” travel.
Slumming It in Business Class
I tend to hate air travel and lately, there’d been little to like about it. The food, or lack thereof, is terrible; the service rude or indifferent. I hate that we in coach class aren’t allowed to use the bathrooms in business class, even if those are the ones we are seated closest to. That there is no comfortable way to sit in order to avoid the people directly in front of us, behind us, next to us. Certainly not with the leg room provided.
For my recent trip to the Philippines, I had to mentally prepare for an over 12-hour flight each way. And really, there’s really no other way to prepare for that except to accept that it’s going to be uncomfortable and hellish. I always wondered what first class and business class would be like, but I never thought I’d be so lucky to experience it.
When I arrived at the airport, a Cathay Pacific customer service rep informed me that my flight had been overbooked. “Would you mind switching to a Japan Airlines flight, which leaves at around the same time, but arrives in Manila earlier? And for your inconvenience, might we also offer you $200 spending cash as well as a coupon voucher for a free business class upgrade and access to our business class lounge for your next Cathay Pacific flight?”
Uh…is this a trick question? Continue reading »
Some time ago I was traveling via taxi from the Manila airport to the center of the city and was amazed that the traffic seemed to veer all over the road, unmindful of lane markings or what car should be where. To an American (me) it seemed complete chaos, but to the Filipinos it was smooth as could be. Everyone’s awareness was on the vehicles around them, not on their “right” to the lane they were in. Later, in the city, I was further amazed to see that when too much traffic flowed in one direction and there was room on the other side of the road, drivers simply crossed the center line and took over a lane or two, so traffic coming the other way had to squeeze over. Again, madness to an outsider, but it actually allowed the traffic to flow faster.
This sort of cooperative driving is common the world over, and is true in Cairo, as Anthony Bourdain discovered on a trip where he communed with Bedouins, felt most comfortable deep in the desert, and empathized with the millions of Egyptians struggling to get by. Things seem to work out one way or another when people cooperate, even when times are tough.