I’ve had the pleasure of flying British Airways in First, Business and Economy in the last 2 months and it makes for some interesting comparisons, Let’s start in reverse order of merit.
Economy is how we all travel when we’re paying our own way. It’s cramped and uncomfortable and if you’re traveling anything over 4 hours you’ll need a fistful of under the counter Thai Valium to even stand a chance of surviving. However, the crew do a good job given they have a plane load of borderline psychos after about 14 hours.
First is fascinating. Some billionaires but most people are upgraders who got bumped up. When you’re bumped like me, the trick is to look like you always travel this way. Don’t keep playing with the seat controls or immediately slip into your complementary romper suite (or ask for a spare for your wife). The overwhelming feeling is of being stroked. It’s very much “Good morning sir, well done on being successful,rich and handsome. May I congratulate you on a fine hair style and I must say that jacket is simply gorgeous, I’m going to spend the next few hours just polishing your ego.
Business Class is my favorite. There is all the attention to detail without the ego massage. It’s friendly but they know that you just spent 36 hours in dull meetings in airless rooms, forgot to do any shopping, are very, very tired and want a quick meal and as much sleep as you can get before you land at 6.30 am and start the whole process again. There is none of the “Would sir like this hand made truffle we’ve had designed by Gordon Ramsey” They even have an express meal which they serve first so you can get some sleep. Or write stupid blog posts as the fancy takes you. I sadly am not at all tired but tomorrow after a 3 hour client meeting I will be . “Jeeves fetch my hounds tooth body bag I think we’ll be needing it.”
By far and away the greatest joy in Business Class and something that instantly justifies the £4500 LHR-JFK price tag; is the bacon roll. Caviar, champagne and diver caught queen scallops are OK but nothings in the world being gently woken at 5am by a warm English accent and being asked “Would you like a cup of tea and a bacon roll”. Simply staggering understanding of what an English business traveler needs, the culinary equivalent of a warm pint and the footy. It’s Elgar, Jerusalem, Poet’s Corner and cricket on the green all rolled into one.