For the record, British Airways isn’t paying me. They are not (yet!)sponsors of The Anglophile Channel. They haven’t promised me an upgrade. I am a budget traveler and careful with my spending.
What’s well worth some extravagance? For what do I curtail my spending and save those dollars? What is worth putting every blessed cent I spend on certain credit cards and amassing as many points as possible? For what do I seek when I read every airline email? Business class. British Airways Club World. Oh, yes. A thousand times, yes!
Many years ago, my husband and I splurged for British Airways Premium Economy. It gave my wiggly husband some extra legroom and me, some peace. He sat on my left and a nice mother-daughter pair on my right. That child had the worst smelling feet I’ve ever been unfortunate enough to experience. The gag-worthy aroma hung in the air. It was going to be a long, horrible, smelly flight. The child’s mother apologized in advance for the fragrant hours that lay ahead of us.
Robert, the aforementioned wiggly husband, overheard a man nearby asking to upgrade to business. Robert got up to check out that Club World cabin and came back with an odd expression on his face. It was as if he had seen the promised land. He counted several empty seats, so he asked the steward if it were possible for us to upgrade as well, and how much would it cost? The steward, who is forever our hero, upgraded us, pretended to but didn’t charge our BA credit card, and ushered us into paradise. He knew that once we spent time in that cabin, we would not be content to fly with the mortals in steerage again.
Now we are loyal Club World passengers. We used to dread the actual travel. It was stressful and squashed and we didn’t feel like the vacation began until we got to the hotel. But now we fly Club World. We still have the queues, the security and the madness of getting to and checking in at LAX, but the whole experience changes once we get to the lounge. Ah, yes, the lounge is where the holiday begins in earnest.
We’ve had some rough years filled with loss and trauma. We have had moments of absolute dread before our trips. It doesn’t always make sense and I hated to feel ungrateful, but the preparations seemed overwhelming. I couldn’t see past the work and worry. We’ve cried a lot. The anxiety didn’t seem worth it. I have wanted to cancel and hide. Last year, circumstances did force us to cancel a trip. We re-booked. We’ve forced ourselves past depression and fatigue and made our way to the airport and have enjoyed incredible trips which all began in that Club World lounge.
I’m not exaggerating when I swear that once I hit the lounge, I feel like a different person.
I remember thinking on more than one occasion, “I don’t have to go anywhere. I could just stay here in the lounge and that would be okay”. Soft jazzy music. Squishy chairs. Moodier lighting. Flowers. A generous buffet. Clean, spacious bathrooms stocked with spa products. Contented, calm passengers plugging in their devices and kicking back. A flight delay? No problem. I will just amble over for another excellent cup of tea and a biscuit. Or two.
Late last year, I overheard on a lounge television that another airline’s plane also heading over the Atlantic on a similar route had been diverted due to threats. I was bonelessly reclined in a comfy chair and texted my family not to worry, it wasn’t our flight. We were flying British Airways—which, somehow, makes me feel very safe. I illogically feel that nothing bad could happen to me in the lounge. That sense of serenity continues as we board the plane.
The Club World Cabin has that “on holiday” atmosphere from the moment you enter. Robert proclaims, “This is so civilized…” every time we are seated. A flight attendant greets us as guests with champagne or orange juice and hangs up our coats.
We have our own snug little pods which recline and allow a person to stretch out and sleep. A bag of amenities makes up for the toiletries we might not have been able to take in our carry-on bags.
The “party bathroom” is so large we could easily change clothes or do a little yoga. We often eat better than we do on the ground. Sometimes the chefs think the vegetarian equivalent to a decadent dessert or proper tea cakes is a fruit cup, but it’s a small quibble and no hardship. There are treats available throughout the flight.
We’ve seen the staff move through the cabin with remarkable patience and efficiency during some scary turbulence. We witnessed one compassionate flight attendant care for a woman who had taken ill. He then stood by her when a shockingly aggressive EMT met the plane upon landing in Los Angeles. But most flights glide through the air without incident. It feels surreal in a way. You enter, settle in, get a bit pampered and let the time pass before you exit on another continent.
I always bring a book, but rarely make any progress until after we land. The in-flight entertainment system contains so many interesting films(some so new that they haven’t yet been released in the US), television shows and music selections to keep a person entertained, that it is tempting not to sleep.
But sleep I must so I can hit the ground running and maybe sneak past the cruel gods of jet lag. Again, I sit back and think “I don’t have to even get off the plane. I feel better just sitting here. Here…is good”. But, of course, we do get off the plane, rested, well fed, refreshed and eager to begin binging on British culture and history.
Now we have another trip on the horizon. I have, when feeling a little blue, checked at my app which shows details of the next flight. Date. Time. Club World. Smile!
Just over a year ago, I was on a British Airways flight, but not in Club World. I was back with the mortals in World Traveler coach class. Had I become so spoiled that this would be a nightmare of discomfort? Not at all. I had a bulkhead seat with lots of wiggle room. The attendant brought me my veggie meal although I’d hadn’t remembered to order one. It was a nice surprise to find that my preferences were in their computer system. I watched a good British film and fell sound asleep until just before landing. Except for a moment of pause over the strange man seated next to me who kept a blanket over his head for the entire flight, it was still – wonderful. It was a lovely, relaxing flight one to of my very favourite places on Earth. I sat back and counted my blessings. First of all, Mr. Blanket-head never took off his shoes…