I've never flown first class until today (or rather, yesterday) and wow, does it ever make the difference between a crappy flight and a truly enjoyable experience. Despite my tired eyes and aching back, I've almost forgotten that, while I'm getting ready in my hotel room in Japan to head out for dinner, people back in Toronto are either still deep in slumber, or just getting up to begin their day!
I've always wondered why those tickets are exponentially more expensive than economy class. Sure, you catch glimpses of drinks being served, and comfy pillows through the curtains if you're sitting near the front, or see highly exaggerated scened in movies where flight attendants are dancing on tables with hiked up skirts and tied up, low-cut tops. But is it really worth that much more money? The truth is that the experience is, simply put, what flying should be all about. Before the plane even took off and I was settled in, an attendant (male in pants; sorry, it isn't like the movies!) was offering up champagne and orange juice. While arranging my little alcove of space to my liking, I realized that wow, there was a power outlet to charge up my gadgets if I needed to. A roll-out LCD (just for me) provided movies, TV, news, and even games. Yes, the underside of the remote control can be tilted horizontally to serve as a gaming remote! OK, so I didn't actually use it, but that is pretty darned cool. Then came my fav experience of all - the adjustable lounge seating that rolled all the way back such that I was able to comfortably sleep (or at least) rest for the 12.5-hour flight. All of this was topped off by fantastic food (real food, not the kind that comes in packages), and a little care pack with booties (so I could take off my heels, but still roam around the plane), toothbrush and toothpaste, and some other niceties. Now this is flying.
Sure, you'll fork over tons of extra cash to fly this way, so it's likely not a frequent occurence for many. But just in case you were wondering, it is worth it. Well worth it. Once wireless Internet access becomes common in planes, business class will become even more enticing.
As for Japan, this is my first time visiting and although I've only just arrived and haven't seen much yet, I'm excited to see how the other side lives. This truly is one of the technology epicentres of the world. My first indication? I plugged my notebook in via Ethernet, and wham, I'm connected to the 'net. No cumbersome log-in headaches or entering the room number 50 times so I can be charged for every 24-hour period. OK, so it's probably not this way in every hotel in Japan. But it's a nice change from the sometimes technologically-challenged western world.