The chitter-chatter of the chattering classes last week was all about how first Kate Moss then Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie flew economy class. People seemed divided between the Kate Winslet school of “they’re just normal people like you or I” and the PR savvies who claimed the stories had been leaked to “make them look more likeable.…”
The Kate Moss flight was from Turkey and Brangelina’s was an internal French one. To me, their going economy made perfect sense. Unless you have a private jet to hand, any flight of under four hours is fine in economy. If you do pay the overpriced business-class fare on these short flights you had better be the first one on. One side of the aisle has three normal seats while the other side has been turned into two slightly larger ones. EasyJet, meanwhile, has removed the old mad rush for free seating, so you can now stroll on at leisure.
Long-haul flights are different. Once you’ve “gone left” it’s very difficult to go back to the cheap seats. Although just a glorified coach trip, going business makes you feel good. “Going right” on the other hand is accepting your financial realities.
There is still a certain mystique about travelling “up front” – a hint of romance and excitement that rapidly fades as you exit the plane. Basically, you’ve just remortgaged your house for some free crisps, cheap fizz and an uncomfortable chaise longue. I’ve always longed to grab the tannoy and ask the people in economy to “fold your tables and put your seats upright” before asking people in first class to “exit the pool and sauna”. If only….
It’s especially difficult if you are a minor celebrity. People tend to discuss you as though you are not there. Last time I was in economy, on my way to New York, I became the subject of much fevered speculation.
“Look, that’s Dom Joly sitting there!” Exclaimed a portly Essex housewife to her holiday companion.
“You know, Dom Joly, the big phone guy… Trigger ’Appy?” Everyone was listening and staring. I pretended to be engrossed in the safety manual.
“Oh yeah … no … that’s not ’im. What would ’e be doin’ in economy?” The friend asked loudly.
“Well ’e’s not done much since, ’as ’e? ’Fings are obviously not going well for ’im. E’s not going to be affording first class.”
“That is not Dom Joly – ’e’s much fatter than that bloke…” I started to weep quietly.
“Yeah … maybe you’re right … he wasn’t funny anyway… I love that Michael McIntrye … ’e’s ‘ilarious ….”
I put my headphones on and looked out of the window. As we overflew Essex I mentally opened the bomb doors and unleashed tons of explosives on to the cruel county below.
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