The front of the plane – when flying coach we all have passed through it while enviously glancing at the champagne-sipping passengers seated in business class and made a vow to fly premium class. Finally, the moment has come that you will be flying to your dream destination in utmost comfort. How do you maximise the experience? Stephanie Vardavas answers.
For a long-haul flight, “value” translates to comfort and readiness for the task that awaits at the end of the flight.
“Value” doesn’t mean swilling down a lot of alcohol just because it’s free. You may get sick, it can actually impair your ability to sleep for more than a couple of hours, and it will exacerbate the normal tendency of air travel to dehydrate you. Have a drink or a glass of wine with your dinner, maybe a second one, but no more.
When you boarded the plane there was probably a bottle of water on your seat. Drink it. They’ll bring you more. This will help minimize the dehydrating effects of air travel. (That cabin air is very dry.) The good news is that in business class there is a much more favorable ratio of lavatories to passengers. I hope you have an aisle seat. For long-haul flights on 2-3-2 or 2-2-2 planes I always go for an aisle seat in the center section. That way I never have to crawl over anyone to get to the lavatory, and no one ever has to crawl over me, if I am sleeping (they can go the other way if that person is awake). If there are any empty seats in business class, they are the middle seats in the center section, and sometimes you hit the jackpot and have a nice empty middle seat to keep your magazines, Kindle, iPod, and headphones handy. Also, there’ll be an extra pillow and blanket there.
Most airlines are still providing little amenities kits in business class. Peek inside and familiarize yourself with the contents. You’ll find some of them very handy. Depending upon the airline, these kits have been known to include
– lip balm
– hand cream
– sleep mask
– toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash
– socks with rubber nubs on the soles
– hand sanitizer
– miscellaneous other tiny sample sized toiletries
After the first meal service on a long-haul flight they will dim the lights in the cabin, and you should do your best to sleep. I usually don’t want earplugs but the sleep mask is essential, as there is still ambient light from the galleys and your seatmate may have his or her reading light on, or be watching a movie. In business class you will have — at minimum — a seat that reclines and a footrest that goes up. The footrest will help reduce swelling in your feet and ankles, which can be a problem on a long-haul flight, and will slow you down at the other end. Even if you can’t sleep, wear your sleep mask, clear your mind, and listen to classical music, meditate, or do something else that calms you. If you have a lie-flat bed, enjoy. When you want to, you can get up and walk around a little in business class, or just stand and stretch. There will be fruit and snacks in the galleys in case you want a nibble after sleeping for a few hours, and the flight attendants will happily serve you some juice, water, or — if you must! — another glass of wine.
Sixty to ninety minutes before landing, they will serve you a light breakfast or lunch. Take advantage of that favorable ratio and use the lavatory one last time after eating. When the plane lands, first and business class deboard first. That means you can get through Customs and Immigration checkpoints well ahead of the hundreds of people in economy class, especially if you don’t have to stop after deboarding to use a restroom in the airport.
It may not be what it used to be, but business class is still a pretty civilized way to spend a long-haul flight. Enjoy!
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