Q – Lloyd, If I ever happened to be on the same plane as you from US to Europe, where would I find you – 1st, business or back in cattle. What about this time – will the credit crunch change your preference ? Do the airlines recognise you as a VIP and treat you right ? And if I ever had the good fortune to be sat next to you on that plane, would you welcome a conversation, or are you a solitary traveller ?
A – What a fun question. I was beginning to wonder if we’d maybe covered everything.
If I’m paying I am never near to the front. That is silly money. I have children to feed. I think maybe 1988-91 I may have actually bought a club ticket or two, but never since. That was about the cut off point for me being someone that the check in person recognised as worthy of upgrade also, so that doesn’t happen often, these days. Travelling with Frank to South Africa a couple of years ago (about a 30 hour deal) I did upgrade us on part of the journey with my airmiles, but he was just as happy at the rear of Economy.
On BA, with whom I spent the majority of my flight time 2006-7 I actually prefer the ‘Premium Economy’ area to Club. Those Club seats where two folk are facing each other in some sort of cocoon are not for me. Plus you’re always tripping over the horizontal sleepers. I come from a fairly modest background and I’m probably inverted in my snobbery but you do seem to see an awful lot of horrible looking people in Club (see Caddyshack, Ralph Lauren, etc). I managed to rack up enough miles to get free access to the BA lounges without having to travel with the rich and the expense account, and the lounge does help, I think. Airports are vile places. Then BA had their Terminal 5 debacle and I had to stop flying with them and consequently I’ve now lost the privilege. This a Catch 22 situation. I had to stop because I couldn’t let them lose my guitar, and now I’m downgraded. I’m guessing they’ve lost a lot of custom. I do have one of those fancy Amex cards and that gets me into the Continental lounges, which is a nice coincidence, as I’ve been experimenting with their transatlantic flights recently. They are cheaper, by a substantial margin and they are not bad. Plus I can fly out of Hartford which cuts the car travel.
On the flight I try to be polite to my neighbours which is not always easy (I never recline my seat in economy and my elbows are always touching MY ribs) but I do not initiate conversation. When else to I get time to just sit and read, or play iPhone poker? I sat 5 hours on a New York, LA flight a few years ago next to an older gent who was reading the manual to some music software I also use. Eventually I said something – it turns out it was Van Dyke Parks. He’s lucky I left it late otherwise he’d have had no peace.