Business Class for Beginners
Just when I didn’t think my transit could go any better during my airport hop from KGL-BRU-ORD-CMH, my ticket set off a little alarm at check in seconds after I turned away to walk down the ramp to take my seat on the plane. As I turned around the gate agent spoke the best seven words I could have heard this morning:
“Excuse me Miss, you have been upgraded.”
I graciously thanked him for the new ticket, seat 7A, and practically skipped down the aforementioned ramp. I’ve done a fair bit of traveling in the last six months, but never in a million years did I expect to end up in business class on a flight that I thought was full (let alone at all – my Mileage Plus account still says I have zero points). Perhaps I was mixing up this seating chart with another? But no matter. When I entered the plane and showed my ticket to the crew member at the door, he kindly gestured to my left (!!!) and politely directed me to my seat. As I was placing my bags in the overhead bin and trying to act normal instead of like an overly excited deer in the headlights combo, a flight attendant asked if I would like anything to drink before take off. About 30 seconds later, I was comfortably playing with the seat settings and sipping water, again, doing my best to act cool and natural while automatically failing miserably due to the over-exaggerated smile on my face and the fact that I was still playing with the chair.
As the rest of the plane was boarding, I received a free copy of the International New York Times (I got to pick from a stack of different papers), a menu with options for my three course meal, and a little travel case with lotion, Chapstick, socks, an eye mask, earplugs, refreshing towelettes, tissues and mints. Hello, luxurious life. Also excellent because I may have forgotten my toothpaste in the bathroom at the Brussels airport (or it’s loose in my purse, which is basically the equivalent of it being lost).
We took off, which was a little weird to do facing backwards, and I started browsing the entertainment center. After watching a couple movies, eating my three course meal, and playing with the seat some more, I settled in for a nice nap. A few hours later I woke up to a nicely dark cabin and no line for the bathroom, so naturally I rolled over and went back to bed for a bit.
If this didn’t cost so much, I would always travel internationally in business class. The comfort, to me, is completely worth the price (though as a broke and very recent college grad, I don’t have the money for this sort of upgrade on the reg). And I do understand why it costs so much – during the 9-ish hour flight, I ate about three meals, had water and unlimited free wine, and was able to comfortably sleep without worrying about waking up drooling on a stranger or in some other awkward position. The cabin crew was attentive and very kind, especially when I needed a snack and didn’t realize I was allowed to just get up and take some fruit from a designated cart. So props to United for #1 upgrading me and #2 providing excellent service from start to finish on this flight. (Update: I tweeted something along those lines to United right before we left, and when I arrived in Chicago, the airline had replied! How nice.)
So here’s why I’m writing this post: (mostly) because I’m an awkward human being. But really though, to avoid looking or sounding like an idiot like me, here are my top 10 tips/hints for making yourself seem like you belong in business class:
1. Don’t play with your seat before takeoff. If it wasn’t already obvious from my facial expression, this characterized me as an obvious newbie.
2. Don’t snapchat your surroundings. Obviously I did a fair bit of this, but I already looked like a newbie so I guess it didn’t matter. But again, it’s an obvious sign.
3. On United’s Boeing 777-200s, the table is in the center consul between your seat and the person next to you’s seat. The thing that looks like it could be a drawer pulls out and up at a 45* angle then folds out to create a little table.
4. You have to stow all of your belongings in the overhead bins for takeoff and landing. Most airlines include this info in the announcements for everyone, but do we really all listen to the instructions for business class when we’re stuck in economy? I kept trying to open different doors by my seat to find a home for my purse before I remembered what should’ve been obvious two flights into my trek home. Two people are sharing an overhead bin so you also have a bit more room, which is great.
5. There are two little shelves across from your seat. The bottom one works great for storing your shoes or a pair of slippers, and the top one becomes an extension for your feet when you fold the seat out into a bed. I didn’t realize this at first and shoved a bunch of stuff I thought I would use in both. In the end, I spent all my time watching movies or sleeping. (And later, writing this post.)
6. Double check with your flight crew, but in my singular experience, there was a cart of fruit and a few other snacks that we in business class were allowed to just go take from after lunch was served
7. You’ll get a bunch of silverware when your meal is served. Save some of it – you’ll need it later, as business class passengers get to eat like four times. In the course of a 9-ish hour flight, I had a three course meal, two cheese plates, a few glasses of *free* wine, an ice cream sundae and some fruit. Asking for more silverware after being handed a sizable portion of it in the beginning wasn’t the end of the world, but I noticed that the woman in the seat next to me never had to ask for extra silverware.
8. When you see crew members beginning to ask the people around you what they want from the menu, make sure you have looked at yours and know what you want. There were two post-meal options (a seafood thing and what turned out to be a meats and cheese plate), so I ordered the one that wasn’t seafood instead of asking what it was. Luckily, I was able to eat the cheese and fruit that came with it (I’m a vegetarian unless I’m, ya know, eating worms in Namibia or something). But I felt quite smart for just ordering what I did and sounding prepared.
9. Yes the wine is free, but that doesn’t mean you need to drink all of it. I’m a lightweight to begin with, so this wasn’t going to be a real issue anyway. However, being able to have wine with my meal then later with my cheese was very nice. And the wine served in business class certainly isn’t the $5-6 bottle I find at Kroger.
10. The business class cabin is a very wonderful place to be. From an airline seat that transforms into a little bed to food that makes what’s served in economy seem like trash, you made it there somehow, so sit back, relax, and enjoy it while you’ve got it.