For the first time, ever, in all the years of flying, a few days ago I was on a flight that I wished was longer.
I fly a lot, some 100,000 miles a year, and I have over two million lifetime miles on American Airlines alone, so for me to make the statement above means something.
Last week, due to a death in the family, I had to book a flight to Germany on very short notice. I also had very little time. It would take 24 hours of travel, roughly, to get there. I scheduled myself for 48 hours at the destination, and of course 24 hours back. I knew I’d never get out of jet lag back and forth. With the very few flights open on such short notice, the pickings were slim. To mitigate the inevitable stress, I decided to use frequent flyer miles to book first class tickets with British Airways. When I tried to outright buy the tickets, they were about $9,000 each way. Oh boy. But for 62,500 flyer miles each way, there were first class seats available. Still, 62,500 miles would get two people on a round-trip to Hawaii with the miles-saver program. To put it into perspective, I used up two round-trip vacations to Hawaii for two for this one flight.
But it was worth it.
Both ways I had a layover at London Heathrow. On the way back from London to the U.S. we were in a Boeing 747. The first class section is in the very nose under the plane, with the cockpit right above it. You don’t even hear the engines there, just hissing of the air.
There are only about ten or twelve seats, and each passenger has a little personalized alcove with all the accouterments imaginable. Other than when I got up to wander about, I never saw another passenger. Two private windows with automatic shades that make the windows disappear on command.
There was a full viewing screen, noise cancelling headsets, a full table, a private wardrobe and closet, a seat that stretches out to become a fully reclining lounge chair and mood lighting. A gourmet meal of several courses, complete with a wine list, is served be most attentive flight attendants. Unlike their American counterparts, who often call me honey or sweetheart, these British girls have their cute accent: “Would you like sugaa with that coffee, Siiiir?”
The flight from London to Chicago is scheduled to take 7 hours and 50 minutes. I was reading, dozing, eating, writing, thinking, drifting and feeling good. I looked up and the screen showed “Flight Time Remaining: 05:28 Hours” and I felt a twinge: “Can’t I stay here for another 10 hours? Can’t we just go on to Australia or Tokyo?”
British Airways service and attention to detail was remarkable. A classy airline I would fly with again without hesitation.
I definitely could have used a lot more time on this flight.