“Have you flown in this cabin before?” The flight attendant smiled and handed me a glass of bubbly.
“No, I haven’t,” I said. “First time.”
“Well, let me give you a tour,” she replied, flashing another megawatt smile. I suddenly wished I had more make-up on, and imagined her applying her curvy, crimson pout, mushing her lips together to press the lipstick in, and blotting the excess with a tissue. The result – a sharply angled Cupid’s bow and bold pop of Emirates red that matched her shoes and the details on her creaseless uniform.
She leaned towards me and began her tour of the armchair of a seat, pointing out the panel of buttons, vanity table, sliding privacy door and personal mini-bar.
I nodded enthusiastically at everything, gripping the thin stem of the champagne glass a little too tightly in case it was all a dream. The details, the fresh flowers, leather chair that reclined to a bed and acres of walnut trim, almost felt unreal.
“And would you like to take a shower before landing?” she asked. “You know we have a spa on board.”
I’d taken a peek inside after climbing the stairs to the A380’s top deck with my roller-luggage banging against my leg. My eyes had widened as I took in the enormous teak-and-marble shower suite, bigger than your average bathroom with two dedicated attendants, shiny taps and no shortage of rolled, fluffy, white towels and bottles of sweet-smelling lotions. The scent of Bvlgari perfume hung in the air. I knew I wouldn’t be taking a shower, though – however inviting the clever back-lighting and full-size window on the world were.
“That’s okay,” I said, a hint of regret in my voice.
She raised a thin, finely arched eyebrow.
I decided not to explain, thinking my fear of hitting turbulence – or, worse, an emergency – while wet and naked in the shower might sound silly.
“Well, just let me know if you need anything. It’s dine on-demand,” she said, passing over a menu and bestowing on me a final red-lippy beam that didn’t quite stretch to her eyes but lit up her young, dewy-skinned face in a flourish.
Left to my own devices, I wanted to giggle uncontrollably that I was sitting in first-class, after ten years of hollow-eyed travelling with young children in economy. I drained my champagne, feeling the bubbles hitting my bloodstream in an effervescent rush, took my shoes off, and got comfy, which wasn’t difficult in the expansive seat. After take-off, I was offered pyjamas to change into. Pyjamas! Flying really didn’t get any better than this.
I decided to try to see who else was in the cabin. My husband has told me of all kinds of celebs who have been on his plane in first – some of whose names/films/music he even remembers (he doesn’t get to meet them). I peered out of my cabin, but it was impossible to see who my companions were – Emirates first-class is all about privacy, peace and quiet. You’d be forgiven for thinking you were on a private jet. Determined not to waste a moment of this precious seven-hour flight by sleeping, I slid my door shut and watched movies on the huge, flat-screen TV.
Knowing exactly how lucky I was to experience first (and feeling rather out of place!), I was a model passenger. I didn’t bother the flight attendants once. If truth be told, I hadn’t quite ‘got’ the dine-on demand thing. I was expecting meals to be brought round on a trolley and didn’t think to ask for food. The staff leave you alone; responding to passengers’ whims via call buttons; privacy, as I mentioned, being king.
With about 35 minutes to go, I opened my door, and a flight attendant asked with surprise, “Did you want anything?”
“No, thank you,” I lied.
“You sure? Tea, coffee, a croissant?” (I’d missed the caviar!)
My stomach betrayed me with a growl so loud I thought she might have heard over the sound of the engines. A passenger – the only one I’d seen all flight – got up to change out of his pyjamas, and my hunger got the better of me.
“Oh, okay! A croissant please.”
(“That’s all you had?” my husband asked, incredulously, afterwards!)
Of course, we started descending all too soon, and, of course, I wanted to do that Jennifer Aniston thing and ask the pilot (DH) to ‘fly this thing around for a bit longer’.