Flying business class

In case any of the three readers I have was wondering why I didn’t update last week, it was because I got called unexpectedly to visit the home office in Toronto for training. I walked into work on Friday the 13th, and was told to call the company’s travel agent because I was flying to Toronto on Monday the 16th for a four day trip. The only upside? The coach ticket on such short notice was actually more expensive than business class, so the travel agent put me in business class.

It was weird. On so many levels. Room to spread out a bit. A decent amount of leg room. The flight attendant came through a bit after takeoff and said “Will you be joining us for our dinner service this evening, Mr. Nehrlich?” I said, “Um, excuse me?” The question was so foreign to me I literally couldn’t process it the first time she asked. After the repetition, I said “Um, sure!” so she followed up with “Would you like the chicken breast or the salmon?” I mean, yes, you get asked that in coach, but only when they get to you with a box full of preheated trays. Getting asked in advance was just kind of weird.

Other differences:

  • Beverages were served in actual glasses. People that took coffee got actual mugs. Both the glasses and mugs had thick bases to keep them stable even in turbulence.
  • After the first beverage and nuts service, they came around a second time and gave me another bag of nuts without me asking. And offered me more to drink. I flummoxedly said no.
  • Before dinner, we were given hot damp towels to wash up with.
  • Dinner itself was multiple courses, with the appetizer course being eggplants and tomatoes with cheese, and asparagus to the side. The main course included a nice dinner roll (not the typical rock) and a chocolate covered strawberry. The quality of the food wasn’t particularly good, but the idea of having multiple courses in the air was also just weird.
  • The Haagen-Dazs ice cream and cookie for dessert were yummy, though.

The entire experience was kind of surreal. I have my routine for airplane flights pretty well down. I tuck into my window seat, I put on my headphones, listen to music and read my book, occasionally exchanging monosyllables of preference with the flight attendants as they serve me. This whole getting actual service thing messed with my head.

It was also bizarre to me to see how the other business class fliers treated this as normal. They felt entitled to this level of service. In fact, I overheard a couple of them complaining about the slow response of the flight attendants to their beck and call. They didn’t say thank you or acknowledge the extra service, just accepted it as their due. I guess if you fly enough up there, you get jaded to it. But after a while of watching them treat the attendants rudely, I almost wanted to move back to coach and say “I’m not like that! I’m not a white middle-aged executive jerk like these other guys! I fly coach all the time!” But I didn’t. Legroom is too precious.

Anyway. Odd experience. Figured I’d share.

On a somewhat unrelated note, the flight had another new experience in store for me. As we were flying through the Midwest, we flew next to some thunderstorms. Thunderstorm clouds are immense – they went up past our altitude of 40,000 feet or so. The neat part was that the clouds were basically at eye level, and huge lightning storms were going on. The clouds would be illuminated from within by lightning, and I could see the streaks flash down towards the ground. Very cool visual. When I saw the first strike, I involuntarily said “Wow!” out loud. Fortunately, the executive next to me was too absorbed in his spreadsheet to even look up. Lightning’s cool. I miss thunderstorms – one of the few bits of weather I miss here in California.