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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Traveling – First Class

We like to subscribe to the Rick Steves theory of travel: fly as cheap as you can and use the money you save for adventures.  The front and back of the plane arrive at the same time.  This sounds good, but both my wife and I are over six-feet tall, and sitting in coach for eleven hours, flying to Europe is unbearable.  (Don’t get me started on the five-foot people that thrust their seatbacks down into our already confined legs).  The only way we can fly in coach is to get the emergency exit seats, which makes the trip tolerable.

Though in 2003 when we flew to France for a month, we were using my frequent flier miles and the only seats we could get were First Class on British Airways (oh darn).  The cost of frequent flier miles is almost three times as much as coach per seat, but when it’s the only class with tickets, it’s worth it.

On that trip, we flew from Portland to San Francisco where were able to use the BA first class lounge and rest.  Here are two travelers wearing their jeans and walking shoes carrying Eagle Creek carry-on backpacks containing everything we need for four weeks.  The people that pay for first class seats do it so they can avoid the riff-raff, and guess what, there we were.

We were able to use the separate first class only jet way to board the Boeing 747 where we had the first two seats in the nose of the aircraft.  I had windows on the left, my wife on the right.  After we stowed our bags, we settled into our seats where the steward brought us champagne and h'orderves.  We noticed that all the things that they tell you when taking off in coach: “Seat tables up and locked, put away your video screen, no drinks” don’t apply to first class.  We continued to sip champagne while watching the Golden Gate Bridge vanish in the distance.

We enjoyed a wonderful dinner with linen tablecloths, real silverware, and real food accompanied by fine wines.  The seat reclined into a flat bed and we were able to spend some of our time sleeping across the ocean.

In the morning, before we landed in London (all BA flights from the US go through their hub in London), we had a nice British breakfast of scones, bangers (sausage), cooked tomato, eggs, ham, and hash browns.

When we arrived in Heathrow airport, we proceeded to the first class lounge that offered a wide assortment of foods and beverages.  We enjoyed our stay in the lounge in comfortable chairs while snacking until it was time for our flight to Paris.

I wouldn’t want to pay the full fare for the first class seats (around $4000 each), but when you are as tall as us and traveling “for free”, it is really worth it!

Adventures In Food: Author: Kerry Howell

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