Have you ever flown long haul in ‘cattle class’ and arrived at your destination exhausted, jet lagged and stressed? I have and hated it. So, when I planned a wonderful European experience, I thought about Premium Class (similar to Business Class) and the cost and decided – what the heck? I’ve worked hard! Yes, I would finally fly in luxury.
I was flying solo to Budapest in Hungary to meet a friend before travelling together in Europe and then flying back to New Zealand solo from London. I booked my Premium Class flight with the first leg of the flight from Auckland to Doha, Qatar in the Middle East. A 17-hour flight followed by a 5-hour flight from Doha to Budapest.
At Auckland’s International Airport it was very quick and easy to book in, hand over my suitcase and made my way to the Business Class lounge where I enjoyed a pleasant, relaxed and quiet setting – very different to my previous airport experiences. When it came time to board my plane I, along with other Premium Class passengers boarded first. I was welcomed aboard by friendly, smiling flight crew as I was shown to my spacious seat. This was in its own spacious dove-grey and maroon coloured cubicle with a sliding door which provided privacy.
Our allocated hostess introduced herself and showed me how to operate the touch-button seat to different, comfortable positions including a total lie-flat position for when it came time to sleep. I had a storage cubicle next to my thick, soft seat where I could stow my handbag and book and of course there was a large touch screen for movies or for checking the flight path. The space and privacy were wonderful. The single seats were on the window side. The middle part of the cabin was for doubles and could also open into groups of four so people could have business meetings or chat in social or family groups.
Once I was settled the hostess provided me with the drinks list (such a great selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages!) and naturally I chose a glass of champagne. Quietly but with excitement, I toasted to myself and my travel adventure. The plane sped down the runway, lifted into the air and we were off. Yahoo!
I could have lunch, dinner and breakfast whenever I chose, selecting from a menu provided. The food was delicious and served hot on ceramic white plates. No plastic knives and forks here. The hostess put a large, cloth napkin on my lap and a cloth place mat on the tray-table, along with a glowing battery candle in a see-through holder – much like a restaurant! It was wonderful. I enjoyed watching movies on my large screen, checking the flight path and reading. Damp, sweet smelling facecloths were provided to freshen-up any time.
The bathroom was unbelievably spacious. Toothbrushes, razors and moisturiser provided. When it came time to sleep, the hostess turned my seat into a flat, comfortable thin-mattress covered bed with a pillow and plush blanket. I was also given a pyjamas, slippers and a vanity kit (which I could keep). I put on my eye-mask, popped in some earplugs and settled down for a night of sleep. In fact, I slept so well the hostess had to wake as we approached Doha.
At Doha airport, I was met by a pre-booked transporter similar to a golf cart (as I had booked this as I have had knee replacements) to the Business Lounge for more quietness, space, comfortable seats, hot food, tea, coffee and wonderfully obliging staff.
After a few hours, I effortlessly boarded on the plane again for the 5-hour flight to Budapest. There was no sleep this time, but there was once again lovely food, wonderful care from the crew, a glass of wine, countless cups of tea, a movie and a general sense of well-being. I arrived happily in Budapest feeling relaxed, rested and ready for my travel adventure.
Would I travel in luxury again? Too right! I plan to travel again this way next year.