OPINION: Stretch yourself.... in business class bed

I was lamenting to a mate recently about flying Economy when I travel.

We were having a lively chat about our travel dreams, as you do when you reach a certain age, have finished raising a family and are more free to travel.

"I love to get away a couple of times a year," I said to my mate. "I always travel Economy, keeps costs down."

"Ah, yes," said the mate, but if you travel Economy, your kids certainly won't. They'll be in Business Class...spending the inheritance you left them because you sat down the back of the plane."

That got me riled. I'd never thought of it that way.

Like most seniors I want to leave my offspring a decent amount when I go, but hey, yes, why should they get the benefits of my hard work and travel Business Class on their inheritance while I spent my twilight years squashed down the back with ageing knees and rising temper.

So, it's up the front for me from now on. Sorry, kids, your inheritance just took a dip.

There is something indecently smug about clutching a Business Class boarding pass as you sweep to the front of the queue and board before everyone else, before the crush, before the masses come on board to bash you around the shoulders with their heavy hand luggage and rattle about in overhead lockers and squeeze nosily into the small seat next to you.

But you must cast guilt aside and take your place at your large....oh, so large...Business Class seat with its space and calm and privacy and big television screen and ottoman and little cubby holes for bottled water and head set, and...what's this?...a shoe locker. Yes, a shoe locker.

Oh, the glam of it.

This was my experience on Cathay Pacific recently.

I am sure most airlines' Business Class sections are gorgeous but let's focus on Cathay for the moment because I've just flown from Australia to Europe and back and I'm feeling rested, sprightly, not the least jet lagged, and above all, I feel loved.

Who wouldn't enjoy being greeted by gracious flight attendants who come at you smiling widely and bearing trays with glasses of fruit juice and champagne?

All before take off.

The gorgeous pamper bag comes next, a little pouch of heaven: Jurlique moisturiser, refresher, hand lotion, a toothbrush and paste, a sleep mask, mouth wash and socks to put on the bare feet while the shoes rest happily in the shoe locker.

When the pre-lunch or dinner drinks come around there is no clumsily rattle of the trolley. Just a smooth glide of an elegant trolley pushed by yet another smiling attendant, who actually knows your name and addresses you with all the warmth of a beloved family member you haven't seen in a decade.

"What would you like to drink, Mrs. Rickard?" she says pointing to bottles of top shelf liquor and premium wines, good champagne.

"Everything," you want to shout (if you are me, you might be more restrained.)

It just keeps on getting better.

Warm nuts are given with your drink, delicious almonds and cashews, and they come in a small white dish. There is no ungainly tearing at a packet of peanuts up here in Business Class.


After the nuts and drink, the real indulgence begins.

 A white cloth is gently placed over your large meal tray, and the gracious attendants offer multi courses of culinary joy.

You change all your preconceptions about inedible airline food once you've feasted in Business Class. Everything is more than edible. It's wickedly good, and there is so much of it.

Prawns with a crispy bacon and white cabbage salad with beetroot cream; Chilean sea bass with baby kale, saffron fennel mash and gazpacho sauce; braised beef cheek, lamb chop, spinach, roasted pepper and truffle gnocchi. And here's the thing...it really tastes as good as it sounds.

Then cheeses, exotic things: Roquefort and triple cream brie from France, Gorgonzola from Italy...and served with quince paste and fruit and crackers, all cut from large wedges and whole rounds and presented right there at your private dining table in the sky.

Wines are generously given. On this leg of Cathay Pacific, a special promotion of wines from the Languedoc-Roussillon region in France, along with the usual list of premium wines from all over the world, made my eyes water with pleasure.

Yet, still there is more.

Dessert could be anything from a decadent mango cheesecake or a red berry mascarpone cake with raspberry coulis.

Chocolates too...in a box...oh, the extravagance of it.

With full and happy stomach and an endless variety of the latest release and classic movies as well as a hundred or more television programs waiting your pleasure, you might think this is all too much indulgence, but no....you deserve it...and your kids don't, yet.

Time now for the true pleasure of Business Class, that coveted thing that outweighs all the joy of the food, the wine, the movies, the warm nuts, the pamper bag, even the shoe locker....the flat bed.

Off you go, press the user-friendly button on the side of your seat and down glides the back while simultaneously up glides the front.

In one smooth movement you are laid back, feet up on the ottoman, ready to relax until you touch down in Paris, but another press of the button and further down you smoothly glide until you are flat back, on a bed long enough for even the tallest of people.

With a soft doona and comfortable people there is nothing more to look forward to other than your pleasant dreams...until you are softly awakened to find more gracious attendants on hand with yet more sublime offerings.

"Would you like an avocado and ham omelette and warm croissants with preserves, perhaps some Maple syrup pancakes and fruit platter for breakfast?" you will hear...and if, you are like me and can never have enough of this Business Class loveliness, you will answer: "Everything. Everything. More of everything."

More information on Cathay Pacific, its Business, Premium Economy and Economy class sections and its routes from Australia to destinations all over the world: visit: www.cathaypacific.com.au

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