Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Stand-by me

I have a love hate relationship with flying standby. The worst part about it is the fact that you simply do not know if you will make it to your destination and home or not. However, international flights are a whole different animal because most people generally do not buy a last minute ticket on those flights. So you can guestimate pretty well in advance how great your shot is of getting on the flight or not. Since the longest leg of our trip was from LA to Tokyo I decided a little bribery was in order for the gate agents and flight attendants. I put together bags of halloween candy and magazines and made sure to pass one along to the gate agent 'for all your hard work'. Not only did they love it but since there were seats open they put Chad and I together in our own row in business class. Hey we may have gotten those seats anyways but a little kindness goes a long way...and ensures your flight attendants keep refilling that wine glass all flight long.
If you have never flown first or business class on an international flight, all I can say is, what goes on behind that curtain up there is amazing. Definitely not pay full fare for a ticket amazing, but well worth all the crap I put up with on a daily basis to be able to sit there on a flight like that. In short, all you do is eat. You have menus with everything from shrimp and sea bass to filet mignon as well as salads, rolls, chocolates, ice cream sundaes, fruit plates, champagne, port wine and even (to and from japan only) personal bottles of sake. On the way to tokyo and to bangkok we had business class and although it was nice on the first flight we were only on a 777. On the next leg we were on a 747 so we had lay flat seats with huge personal tv's and remote controls and another dinner and snacks. Chad was seated upstairs and I was downstairs. The lay flat seats are so nice because you are so tired from the flight and it's awesome to put on the sleeping eye masks they give you and your warm socks, put the head phones on and listen to some smooth jazz and sleep. In first class they give you these whole kits full of things like toothbrushes, face wash, socks, lotion, even hand sanitizer and if that weren't enough you have slippers and full size pillows and heavy blankets. We only got first class on the way home from tokyo to la but that's probably just as well. I can fly free in business or coach but first class comes with a mileage fee that you don't know about until you get an email a few months later telling you how much your journey cost.But let's just say a couple hundred dollars is nothing compared to 10k which is how much a full fare first class ticket cost.
One of the best things about being in business or first is simply how relaxing it is. It's amazing that you cut back on half the seats and half the people and the mood is instantly more peaceful. Everyone just does their own thing from sleeping to reading the paper and eating and as far as I could tell no one is outrageous or rude to the flight attendants or eachother. Something about the back of the plane just brings out the worst in people....but I guess when you have a five year old kicking your seat for 12 hours you're bound to be mad.
I really enjoyed flying UAL and unlike their domestic service I was highly impressed. I've taken Delta business class to Paris and didn't think it could get much better but UAL was pretty close (except they didn't bake warm cookies) Delta only has business class not first (at least on their 757s) so you can expect the quality of their business is almost as good as UAL's first since that is all they have. Obviously I never flew back when flying was considered glamorous, but let me tell you, behind that curtain up there that you can barely glimpse through in the back, well that's as close as you'll come nowadays to truly luxurious. It's basically what life would be like if you sat in your favorite chair watching movies all day and having someone bring you anything you wanted. Who could not love that?

No comments:

Post a Comment