14th July 2017 – Auckland to Barcelona
We were out for dinner last night, to celebrate our final moments of ‘single’ life in New Zealand. Luis took some papers from the inside of his jacket pocket and handed them to me with excitement in his eyes. He had gone incognito and upgraded our tickets to business class for our flight to Barcelona with Qatar, and somehow managed to divert all incoming emails with the word ‘Qatar’ in to a folder that he knew I wasn’t smart enough to look in. I like to think I’m not materialistic, but this kind of present made my head almost explode. I would like to thank his colleague Lauren for telling him “Luis, it’s once in a lifetime, just buy the tickets”.
We ate our way through the business class lounge at Auckland airport, and now we’re almost at altitude having taken off about a minute ago into the very turbulent New Zealand sky.
Of course, something hilarious has already happened. As the economy passengers were forced to walk through the luxury business class cabin to board the plane, I thought I would test out the buttons in the arm of my chair. Not being very smart, I pressed the button that I thought would make the back recline, but instead made the whole chair transform very slowly, like it was taking the piss, into a bed. As I slowly reclined, laughing my head off, I pushed all the buttons to make it stop, but to no avail. With tears rolling down my face and Luis telling me, “it’s like taking Miranda on a plane, please just try and pretend you’re cool this is so embarrassing,” I felt like a true Business Class wanker. Luckily, my true people, the economy passengers, were laughing too.
Our hostess, June, passed me a glass of champagne now that I had sorted myself out, along with a leather amenity kit filled with all sorts of necessities that I usually get by without in economy, a jersey pyjama set, and a mattress for when I am ready to go to sleep (she said, “just ask me when you would like me to make your bed”). The chair has a back massager and the seat in front houses my a la carte and bar menu. So naturally I order a dry martini and some nuts. I’m passed a hot flannel, which we usually get in economy, but this one has the calming scent of rosemary and lavender. It’s like aeroplane heaven.
We’re going through the clouds now and the sublime has kicked in. It’s best not to think about it. I’ve had 3 champagnes already and I will just have another glass for good mental stability. First thought that comes to mind when I see the clouds is if this plane went down, touch wood it doesn’t, having reached altitude when it’s -49 degrees outside, would we freeze to death before having the chance to realise what was happening? I did a fart test. I don’t think farts smell when you’re in the air. Maybe it’s the cabin pressure. My stomach is in so much pain. It could be the altitude, or it could be 3 slices of bread dipped in oil, tuna roll, salmon roll, cheese slices (gouda and blue), olives, carrots, pesto, biscuits, salmon, pitta bread, lamb rump, coffee and alcohol that I’ve had since I left the house 6 hours ago. Turning into a fat, glutenous pig.
I think I might be the only person on board who looks like they’ve never travelled Business Class before. This might be true. I’ve taken hundreds of photos already, I’m writing in my journal that has a map of our route glued in the front with my book by Alain de Botton next to me ready to read. I have used every amenity in my kit (I even have my eye mask on my head), I’ve put my socks on with my slippers, and I am the first one in my PJs. Oh god, here comes more food. It’s a chocolate box! Well, what goes well with truffles? Champagne! So I just order another two of those. One for me and one for Luis.
Luis is watching Forest Gump while holding my hand. I feel like I am in a Qatar advert as I see a beautiful view of the sun outside, Ryan Gosling is playing the piano in La La Land, my feet are up while I sit in my bed with my pyjamas on, and I have an arabic mezze plate on route. Just before my first plate of food out of five arrived, the lovely June placed a napkin over my legs, a table cloth over my table, and put my cutlery and wine glasses on top along with some miniature salt and pepper shakers. I put the mini tabasco for safe keeping in my back pack. The service and food is unreal. It’s better than in most restaurants on the ground!
I’ve decided to imagine on this Qatar flight that I am having one big mile-high sleepover with 17 strangers, where no body wants to talk to me. I think these other business class-ers have become complacent. I’m just having my back massaged by the chair and spraying my face in rehydration mist that smells like cucumber.
When we got off the place at Doha feeling fresh as a daisy, we had more champagne and salmon at the fish restaurant, because all this free food and drink is a very exciting novelty. We then did it all over again from Doha to Barcelona for the last 7 hours of our flight arriving without a hangover, even though I drank more than I usually would on a night out in Auckland. There’s quite a lot to be said for business class travel I just need to figure out a way of making my millions. It’s back to economy forever now, but it was an incredible once in a lifetime experience to have had with Qatar and the perfect start to our honeymoon.