Business or (and) Bust
Scotland 2019 caught up with me very quickly in the end, likely due to the series of obstacles that presented themselves, one by one, in the weeks leading up to it. I felt like a real-life computer game character for a while there (with limited supplies of restoration potion), in grave danger of being blown up before making it to the new world.
But make it I did. And, rather than regale with my tales of (undoubtedly tedious) woe, I shall instead tell you about:
THAT TIME I TRAVELLED BUSINESS CLASS
I wish I could say they upgraded me for free but, the truth is, I paid the equivalent of three weeks’ worth of groceries for the privilege. I’m not even sure what happened. They sent the email offer, I mocked it mercilessly (with all the vigour and enthusiasm of someone who knows what it feels like to not be able to pay the rent), then, not long after I had scoffed my final “who would honestly pay that much to stretch their legs out?”, I was practicing my magnanimous smile for the passengers who would be passing me on their way to the back.
It was shameless, it made a mockery of my budget, and it completely undermined my future ability to complain about the effect of dryer use on the electricity bill.
So, was it worth it?
Well, Emirates is a pretty great airline to begin with. I can actually stretch my legs out fully beneath the seat in front of me, the quality of entertainment is spectacular (I went with BlackkKlansman and Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse), and it may not mean much coming from someone who really doesn’t mind a firmly-set omelette and pre-frozen carrots that release that little pop of moisture when you bite into them, but the food is impressive.
And business-lite came with potential stress points of its own. Of note, it didn’t include the usual set of perks,“lounge access, Chauffeur-drive and priority boarding”. Now the former two I’m down with, but priority boarding? Really? So when was I supposed to get on? And via which queue? I solved this dilemma by hanging out in the bathroom until boarding was well under way, then did a very credible, ‘Oh gosh, is that the time? I’m in too much of a hurry to even think about queues.’
It is exhausting being me.
I then took my place between Mr Cufflinks, with the Guy Ritchie accent, and Mr Loafers, the Ralph Lauren shareholder, neither of whom was at his first rodeo. They were pretty handy in the initial stages of the flight, I have to say, modelling casual acceptance of alcohol at 8am and the sock switcheroo for me. The seat was a little harder to get the hang of, but it was just trial and error…stretched out (pun intended) over a long enough period of time, naturally, so as not to get caught putting it into every possible position variation in the space of five minutes.
Here are my feet when I found my way to peak recline.
My favourite moment came after take-off, when our attendant asked us all if we wanted a mattress. Yes, you heard that correctly, she asked us if we wanted a MATTRESS. You didn’t know that, did you, economy flyers? Not only are they in those spacious seats in the front, but after you have all shuffled to the back, they pop the Veuve Clicquot and bring everyone a fucking feather mattress. It’s awesome.
‘Why yes, thank you, I would”, I said, standing graciously, sensing this was not the time to start tallying regrets over and above having to drive in eight hours’ time.
Now, flying is a strange little microcosm to begin with. It’s a world-within-a-world, where the worst things that can happen (if you discount tragedy) are headphones that never really sit properly on your ear, socks that don’t have a discernible heel shape (if you’re lucky), and raisins in your pearl couscous (or insert-your-own-gastronomic-no-no-here). So, how much can eliminating these petty grievances actually be worth?
At least three weeks’ worth of groceries, I have decided (and especially so if your parents have given you birthday money).
I mean, look at my lunch. I am eating an Arabic mezze plate and pan-fried duck, watching either A Simple Favour or The Children Act, wearing noise-eliminating headphones and socks with heels, and I have elected to go with a semi-recline position, despite it causing upper-body crumb spillage from my warm, fresh, crusty bread. Cufflinks and Loafers demonstrated that it was perfectly ok to continue viewing right through both the service and consumption of lunch, so I followed suit. And it was grand.
(As an aside, look at my neighbours’ screens. ‘Hunter Killer’, which speaks for itself, and ‘A Prayer Before Dawn’, a kickboxing flick whose every scene spattered blood…proving that some things are the same wherever you sit.)
I was sad when the regulars indicated it was time to pack up feathers and call for creaseless jackets. I didn’t want it to be over. But, once I had collected my very-bright suitcase from the carousel (before 95% of other passengers) and collected my zippy little car, I realised I was also pleased it’s over. Because now, the anticipation is out of my system, and the real holiday can begin.
And, if my early impressions of this daffodil and stone cottage-dotted countryside are anything to go on, this is going to be a glorious ride.
Scotland has no business being this beautiful.