Monday, March 19, 2007

First Class

Travelling First Class has always struck me as being an extravagance and to have a touch of the egotistical about it. Mind you, I've hardly ever been able to afford it which might account for my liverish view of the thing. Once in a while, a client has insisted that I travel to them in style and, as one not wishing to give offence, I have given in gracefully and been able to sneer at all those peasants cooped up in cattle class. If it's coming out of my own pocket, however, I have a whole different view.
At one time I used to travel First Class on the TGV express here in France. The price difference was not too great and I figured I would be mixing with a better class of Frenchmen, you know, less Gauloise and garlic. One day, finding there were no seats available in First, I booked among the sans culottes and could barely notice the difference.
As trains in Britain rank in the luxury class for price whatever class you choose, I now go by coach - and National Express doesn't have a First Class section.
I used to make a good many trans-atlantic flights up until the US Immigration and Home Security made it an indictable offence to enter their country, and only on a couple of occasions, travelled there in style. As I refuse to eat airline food, agreeing with the late Sir Freddie Laker that it's tough enough running a restaurant on the ground and that trying to do it at 35,000 feet is ludicrous, I simply slumbered my way across the pond. If you're a six-footer, the extra leg room of First must be welcome but as I was designed on the compact style, it doesn't bother me - and the premium you had to pay was enormous.
But now, British Airways have given their Coach Class a major boost with their policy that, if they happen to have an unfortunate death among their passengers, they prop them up in the First Class section, presumably as a matter of respect.
Recently a passenger on the way to India, awoke to find his travelling companion was a now very dead lady. As he had paid some 3000 smackers for his seat, he protested to the airline that he felt that some discount should be made for his acting as an uninvited pall bearer. British Airways, with their customary charm, told him to get over it!
Dying is an extreme way to get an upgrade, although I suppose that, on checking in, you could mention that you felt like death and see if they took the hint.
But, should you be among those who can afford to travel First on BA, if the passenger in the next seat is a little unresponsive, I suggest you check their pulse.
After all, it might be the captain.



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