80% of my time abroad is spent feeling completely out of place. The aggressive ‘queuing’ system in Italy, deadly-serious karaoke singing in Taiwan, ghostly-pale sunbathing in Sydney or offensive salsa dancing in Madrid. Despite committing full-heartedly to each activity, I can’t help but come across as a Mr Bean/Hugh Grant tribute act. An excruciatingly, painful awkwardness, that is so intensely ingrained in my rigid Britishness.
However, very occasionally, a rare situation occurs. Forget solar eclipses, white leopard sightings or a new Game of Thrones novel – it’s a moment where I am completely, utterly, absolutely in my element. And from the second I held my Emirates Business Class ticket in my sweaty, balmy hands – I was home.
Now, before you start accusing me of snootery and snobbery, I would like to clarify it was a random, free upgrade gifted to me from the ever so lovely people of Emirates. I genuinely believe it was the universes way of apologising to a 6ft 3 tall traveller for budget airlines and their ridiculous hobbit-length legroom. Well, apology accepted!
Every part of business class felt so unnatural, yet so right. Boarding first, climbing the stairs, champagne on arrival, high-tea, cheese boards – legroom! The flying process suddenly wasn’t the burden of travel, in fact, it almost rivalled the holiday. No longer was I reading the small print for my sleeping pills, double-checking the dosage it would take to induce near-sedation. This was worth staying awake and conscious for. I even doused myself with the complimentary aftershave in the bathroom, just so I could smell extra important and ‘business-like’.
After we landed, I nodded fair well to my business companions I’d mingled with at the cocktail bar, sipping our martinis and nibbling on the complimentary mixed nut selection. I waddled through arrivals full of French cheese and Australian Shiraz, leaving a poignant trail of Armani Code in the air behind me – something for the next 3 planes worth of passengers to enjoy.
This was it.
I was a changed person. I promised myself I would never, ever fly economy again. Life was too short, and so was the legroom.
3 days later…
I’m sitting on a 2-hour delayed Jet-Star flight (name and shame). My baggage is checked in because they ran out of locker space. On my left is a snoring and soon-to-be drooling overweight Australian hogging both arm rests. On my right is a woman who’s been up to the bathroom so many times I’m tempted to book her a doctors appointment. Don’t worry readers, the ‘Tramp’ is still very much alive and kicking.