My husband is very good at finding creative ways to put the travel rewards he earned at his last job to good use in this life. Last week, we said goodbye to the girls and hopped on a train to London, where we celebrated our fourth anniversary at the River Cafe and slept in a free suite at Le Meridien Hotel in Picadilly Circus. Then, we flew for free to New Jersey, where we celebrated my cousin Meghan's wedding to Fred Storz. The real trick Stef pulled, though, was the free First Class, British Airways return flight.
When I say that I don't know if I have been happier than I was when I put on my free pajamas and slid into my super pod, I am not lying. There is something about that seat, the way the staff trips over themselves to answer your call button, the available entertainment and the edible food that just made me feel complete and as if I may never be able to fly coach again.
I have been lucky to fly International Business Class many times in my life for my own business travel, but trans-Atlantic First Class is a completely different animal and the only bad thing I can say about it is that our flight was too short. That's how awesome it was: I actually wish that it had been a 16 hour (or more) flight. That way, I could have had Stefan over to my pod for dinner, then asked him to go so I could watch two movies and eat my "midnight snack" before having the flight attendant "make my bed," so I could get a full night's sleep. Instead, I had to rush through my aperitif and dinner, skip dessert and watch half of a (terrible) movie in order to get three hours of sleep before waking up for my three course breakfast.
Now, I realize that First Class is a bit over-the-top indulgent and I recognize that it isn't possible for every seat on the plane to be a super-pod, but experiencing this luxury really made me realize how horrendous the conditions in the "back of the plane" really are. In addition to the complete lack of personal space and the third class amenities, the flight attendants literally treat you with contempt. I actually fear asking for a bottle of water when my throat is so parched dry that I can hardly speak the words, "please... water... please..."
In addition to the comfort of the actual flight, First Class offers lounges on both ends of the flight. On the departing end, we enjoyed a small, gourmet snack and two glasses of dry Reisling (ordered from a lengthy wine list that had no prices on it), and followed up with some DirectTV on a 62 inch flatscreen and the Sunday New York Times. We got to talking to the manager of the lounge who regaled us with stories of the A-list celebrities and top Government figures who usually prepare for their flights in these lounges (If we had only traveled the night before, we could have swapped parenting stories with Matt Damon and his wife... damn!) Upon arriving in London, where we had some hours to kill before our train to Brussels was due to depart, we indulged in a shower (multi-head super-shower) and had some more breakfast (capuccinos, waffles, eggs to order and sausages) just because we could. We were so tired so we also took a nap in the lounge before heading out to the streets of London for a delicious lunch at Barrafina in Soho.
Now, the actual price per ticket for this experience is roughly $10,000.00 EACH so it's fair to say I won't be enjoying the glory of International First Class anytime soon (unless Stefan travels a whole hell of lot more and works his magic again), so I am going to continue to reflect on this last trip as one of my best and say, with confidence, that it was a worthy 4th anniversary present. Funny- we are so broke that we opted out of anniversary (or birthday or Mother's Day or Father's Day) gifts, but we flew back to Europe in a style usually afforded to celebs and world leaders. It's so typical of us- living the good life without the goods... and having a lot of fun doing it.
Little House in the Big Tokyo
1 week ago