It’s the Champagne before take-off that really lets you know you’re about to fly in a more refined manner than usual.
Sitting in my spacious seat on board a Qantas Airbus A380 to Sydney with a flute of Charles Heidsieck Brut in hand the gloomy Sunday afternoon at Heathrow outside seemed to magically look a little brighter and sunnier.
Let there be no mistake, business class is completely worth it for this flight.
I had taken the exact same flight two months earlier. In economy (at the time I had no idea I’d be doing it again in style).
On that journey, what felt like several hours of cramped, fitful dozing had only resulted in crossing the Palk Strait between India and Sri Lanka.
In business the hours and miles seemed to melt away.
Unexpectedly I found myself sharing the business class cabin with the entire Wallabies Rugby squad. Fresh from back-to-back defeats to Scotland and England their mood was subdued. As I finished my glass of fizz I couldn’t help but feel the old phrase ‘in victory you deserve it, in defeat you need it’ seemed quite apt.
I used my extra boarding time to do some surreptitious last-minute online searches for the stats of those matches just in case any of the team felt like reliving the trauma. A subtle sliding up of the privacy divider between our seats suggested that was not going to happen.
At just over six feet tall I’m more than familiar with the old knee in the tray table situation most air travellers experience. But try as I might I simply couldn’t reach the back of the seat in front of me with my legs outstretched.
Legroom is always curtailed in economy. Anyone six feet tall or more will certainly experience the dreaded leg-touch with their adjoining passengers at some point.
In business I was looking forward to catching a few movies on the 10-inch entertainment screen, but was distracted by the eight-way movement controller for my seat. There are built-in massage settings and lumbar controllers, too, for ultimate comfort. A USB port in the chair, meanwhile, means you can bring your own devices for entertainment.
The in-flight entertainment system is a notch down in economy. With a smaller screen to watch I found myself straining my neck more often to view it – and the headphones are also more uncomfortable to wear than those in business class. Frequent flyers know it pays to bring your own and I rued my rookie error in that regard.