Friday, March 1, 2024

None of My Business? What It’s Like Flying Business Class as a Normal (But Excitable) Person

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Kelly Bertrand gets a fleeting taste of the high life (sorry, pun intended) on a recent trip to LA. What’s flying business actually like? What do you actually get? And is it worth it, especially in *tHeSe TiMeS*?

I’m a dead giveaway already. I’ve been given a glass of Champagne – real Champagne, none of this sparkling wine nonsense – as I nestle into my seat (seat!? More like averaged sized bathroom of an Auckland house) aboard a Delta Air Lines flight home from LA to Tāmaki Makaurau.

Everyone else around me is old-money chill – obviously rich boomer couples with labelled purses, crisp white trousers and jumpers that somehow stay draped around their shoulders with no respect for gravity, and young people who are dressed like street bums which is, again, how you know they’re absolutely loaded (these crazy times, amirite?!)

I can’t stop grinning. I’m looking around in awe as everyone else on the plane accepts their fancy surroundings with the appropriate level of class and dignity. Meanwhile, I’m rifling through the free amenity kit (tiny hand cream, a pen, earplugs and a toothbrush, in a little pouch next to actual slippers), exclaiming audibly at how far I can stretch my legs and staring incredulously at the provided menu (MENU) where you get to choose what you’re eating beyond the usual “chicken or beef?”.  

If there ever was a time to try and be classy for once in my life it’s now but hell, who are we kidding.

Before I’d even got on the damn plane I’d been through the Delta One pre-lounge-lounge where I was given fancy drinks and food as I checked in at a private desk (no lines! No suspicious questions!) with bubbles in hand which my GOD I could get used to. I was whisked through the airport to the actual lounge, which featured outside decks, a taco bar and a bar that puts many on the Viaduct to shame.

And then, when it’s time to actually get on the plane, two Porsches appear on the tarmac for myself and my group, and we’re escorted through a secret door down to get our ride to the aircraft. I’m told this is for VIPs only (did they screw up? Did they think we were close personal friends with Taika Waititi? We’ll never know) and now I realise that, for the next few hours, I will know what it’s like to be a celebrity – minus the weird body hangups and internal loathing.

Flying business class is wild, and especially on a huge American airline like Delta who have just celebrated their inaugural AKL-LA route, so of course there’s still a bit of fanfare (Americans really like trying to pronounce kia ora).

But, in this cossie livs, is flying business class worth it? Let me break down some of the details on the top three reasons you’d fork out the money:

THE SEAT: This is why you spend all of this $$ – you get to lie down. It’s the headline attraction and I remember vividly, having just woken up from a five-hour sleep (the first time I’d ever managed to sleep on a plane) that they could just take my money from now on. Then I remembered I don’t have any, and we were brought back down to earth faster than an influencer apologising for an ill-timed sponsored social post. Even seated in the older configuration (2-2-2) it’s joyous, with space for storage, a fully lie flat bed, a proper duvet and a surprising amount of space. I was even able to lie with my legs curled up.

FOOD: Look I’m not going to lie to you. The food is so much better. In my experience with normal flying the kai on board is always going to be the best when you’re flying out of the airline’s home base and this flight was no exception, with collabs with local restaurants featuring – I had some of the best pasta and meatballs I’ve ever had – and, get this, real cutlery.  You can even pre-book what you want in the Delta app, and I got to choose between five main options. Even the breakfast, which I normally avoid on planes after a particularly bad experience being adjacent to the most questionable eggs I’ve ever seen, was top notch. A good granola/yoghurt combo is seriously underrated. Drinks are fancy and plentiful and, crucially, the staff didn’t shame me even after my fourth glass of bubbles (come on it’s a 12-hour flight).

SERVICE: Here’s where I’m unsure. We are blessed with Air New Zealand and our incredible flight attendants who just nail how Kiwis like to be treated – a bit of self-deprecation here, a touch of relatable humour there. The Delta flighties, while absolutely lovely, are, unsurprisingly, very American and it made me really wonder if New Zealanders just don’t like it when people are too nice?! Just be prepared to be treated like an absolute queen and while this will make you a bit uncomfortable at first, you’ll soon get over and sink into the vibes.

What it’s like to fly business class – is it worth it?

Let’s be realistic here and say for most of us, business class is most definitely not a regular thing. But when you have the chance or opportunity to do it, hell yeah it’s worth it – IF you think of it as an experience, rather than just a flight. If you spend all your time comparing it to economy then perhaps you won’t see the value. But to head out on your honeymoon, or for that special birthday, or to treat yourself because of your incredible career milestone – or to simply cross it off the bucket list – if you can swing it, do it. Delta was a great flight that’s about to get even better when they bring in jazzy new planes with their famous Delta One seats. I’ve had a taste of the high life now, darlings and oosh, she is a dream!

Kelly flew as a guest of Delta Airlines (obviously!) but all opinions are her own.

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