Spoilt

My regular reader(s) knows of my obsession in planning as much as possible, as far ahead as possible. I’ve volunteered to help out at the World Road Race Championships in Melbourne 2010, and I’ll be going irrespective of whether or not they avail themselves of my services. The challenge is to find the lowest club class fare. Yes, I know economy would be way cheaper but I don’t do long-haul steerage. When I get on the plane for a long-haul flight I want to either go upstairs or turn left, never right.

I confess to having been spoilt many years ago while working in the internal audit department of an American bank. At short notice, they needed someone to fly over to Hong Kong to conduct an audit of the loans department. Bizarrely, I was the only volunteer and, even as a fairly junior member of staff, I got to travel FIRST CLASS.

I flew first class on Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong, cocooned in the lap of luxury, where I had a truly fantastic time, largely because I was on my lonesome and could do what I wanted, when I wanted; always my preferred state of affairs. I would travel to the office each morning in the (free) air-conditioned, hotel limousine as far as the Star Ferry and then board the ferry. Evenings were spent wandering around Hong Kong’s different districts and visiting lots of wonderful restaurants, which included having  afternoon tea at The Peninsula Hotel, something of an institution or rite of passage. I also visited China and Macau.

I was then asked to fly down to the Singapore office which was having problems accounting for futures and options. I flew there on Singapore Airlines, again first class and similarly luxurious. Regrettably, I had to fly back to Blighty on British Airways.

This was in the early eighties before Lords King and Marshal had worked their magic on the airline. Suffice to say that the difference between the oriental airlines and BA was so marked that I was moved to write a letter to Lord King with a few constructive criticisms as to how he might bridge the yawning chasm, which stretched over 5 pages. I firmly believe you get what you’re prepared to put up with. So, if you’re not happy, speak up! I received a delightful, hand-written note from Lord King thanking me for my thoughts and advising that they would be taken into consideration in the forthcoming re-launch of BA. And, so they were.

On the other hand, Richard Branson, oft-cited as a business guru, could not find the time to respond to my letter outlining my dissatisfaction with Virgin Atlantic, as a consequence, I have never darkened his door again. Plus, I shudder to think how many people I have told about my dire experiences on his airline.

Contrast this, if you will, with my experience of Easyjet who refunded the cost of my flight, after a delay of in excess of 4 hours, before I had time to apply finger to keyboard . So, while I’m happy to support both Easyjet and BA, neither of these are going to get me a cheap, business class fare to Melbourne. We had planned to use our Airmiles with Lufthansa but this took us on a round the world odyssey going out via LA and back via Bangkok. The best deal I’ve found to date is on Qatar airlines, via Doha from Milan. Of course, I’ve already booked the hotels.

Postscript: Booked two club class return tickets to Melbourne on Qatar Airlines for Euros 5,224 – bargain!

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