Once in a while it’s nice to treat yourself. And coming back to the UK from the States is almost always a disappointment in one way or another. So, when checking in at New Orleans and faced with a tick box to upgrade my flight to Heathrow, the temptation was just too much.
From speaking to friends who know far more about this stuff that I do, American Airlines don’t have the best
Business Class service in the world, but a hot shower, a warm meal on a plate (as opposed to a takeaway carton) and acess to a free bar and a comfortable lounge at Miami certainly helped to pass the three hour wait.
Then, take off was delayed by an hour, after we’d boarded the plane. Not an issue – an extra hour to watch a movie and wonder at the many and varied positions of a reclining seat, including as close to lying flat as you’re likely to want. And two further hot meals. And a free bar. (Yep, there’s a pattern emerging here).
OK, these are all first world small pleasures – and you pay a relatively hefty premium for them. But the overall service makes you feel good, which is exactly what an upgrade should do.
Contrast this, then, with the UK – and specifically East Midlands Trains. First Class on here is always a bit of a lottery. At weekends, you more or less get access to a big seat and free boiling water, posing as “complimentary refreshments” – which are so good, you have to walk to the buffet car to get them.
Today I walked onto a train at London St Pancras to find no luggage space in the main First Class carriage. The guard helpfully advises putting my case in the space reserved for wheelchairs, though “I might have to move it, OK?” Moments later the obligatory announcement advises passengers to “keep luggage from the aisles” whilst simultaneously “keeping an eye on it”. Guess what, I can’t do both – or either.
East Midlands Trains tell me that this is a “problem we’re aware of” and and the result of a design problem “handed over to us by the previous francise holder”. So, since 2007 they’ve done nothing about it.
LIke I say, first world problems. But ones that wouldn’t be allowed to happen on the other side of the pond.