Celebrate the good times when you decide to travel business class.
Celebrate the good times when you decide to travel business class. PeopleImages

You'll never look back after moving to front of plane

I have denied myself for far too long. While I've been privileged to have travelled perhaps more than most, I have always done it with an eye to costs. I hate wasting money, and it's been my practice over the years to travel down the back of the plane, hating it, but enjoying the savings at the other end.

Not any more. I've reached an age where I deserve to be up the front. This was driven home when someone said to me: "If you don't fly business class, your kids will.” Absolutely agree. So, spending their inheritance modestly and respectfully is what I'm about now.

The business class indulgence, mingled with a bit (a lot) of smugness, begins at check-in when you look at the long queues for economy and take your place in the teeny-weeny line at business class.

Then it is quickly into the lounge, in our case with Thai Airways at Brisbane, the shared Air New Zealand lounge. More smugness, more pampering, more mumbles of "Why didn't we do this years ago?” and it's straight into the coffee and croissants before sinking into a large lounge chair and looking through the vast windows to the tarmac on one side, the departure lounge the other.

Mauve leather chairs, dainty sandwiches, tempting cakes, hot food (towards midday and afternoon) and tempting New Zealand wines and bubbles ... all smoothing the way.

On board, a glass of Veuve Clicquot is offered before there is even a chance to check out the private amount of space, all yours.

It is all calm, serene, none of that bumping and pushing in economy as a couple of hundred people and their hand luggage move and thump around you. That alone is worth the extra cost. No one to yank the back of the seat, no one knocking you in the head as they cram bags into overhead lockers.

It's just you and your glass of champagne, and purple orchids sitting prettily on your large arm-rest. Then there's a warm towel coming at you from the smiling crew and the offer of a magazine.

The indulgence of it cannot be overstated. All this and we haven't even got to the good part yet: the meal service. White tablecloth, proper cutlery, fine wines in good glassware, delicious food choices and then chocolates and cheese and liqueurs. All served with style and grace, no rush.

Of course, the real indulgence of business class is the flat bed. Press a button and your big seat becomes a private bedroom complete with soft doona and comfortable pillow.

Our trip up to Bangkok - about nine hours - went by in a flash, and then there was more pleasure. Into the Thai Airways royal silk lounge to wait for a connection to Europe, a calm place of welcoming armchairs, voluptuous displays of orchids and long tables of endless food and drink.

Business class passengers automatically have entry to the lounge in Bangkok, which offers complimentary massages in an adjoining fragrant spa where mood lighting and timber panelling make you feel light-years away from the chaos of a frantic airport. Delightful therapists with orchids in their hair (yes, orchids are everywhere in Thailand) escort you to discreet alcoves and massage your feet and legs so thoroughly you can feel life coming back into your stiff limbs after all that lying down on your flat bed.

Everyone hates a long-haul flight, but for us Australians they must be endured if we want to get to the other side of the world.

So why not do it in as much comfort as we can afford? It's worth making sacrifices throughout the year, saving your money and hoarding your frequent flyer points carefully.

But be warned, once you've experienced the difference of business class flying, there is no going back.

www.annrickard.com


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