Myr­iad choices at the heady height of lux­ury

If you’d like a taste of how the other half live, fly first class, writes Neale May­nard

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - Escape - - TRAVEL -

AT 12,000m above the In­dian Ocean ( and 50 ex­clu­sive me­tres ahead of where I usu­ally sit), I was faced with sev­eral dif­fi­cult choices.

Would lunch be the ca­jun wood­fired prawns with black bean cakes, co­rian­der and sour cream, or the cedar-smoked vine-ripened tomato lamb fil­let with goat’s cheese, wal­nut dress­ing, spiced green tomato and ap­ple chut­ney?

Or the Al­ge­rian veg­etable and chick­pea soup with dukkah puff pas­try, or the French onion with chive and goat’s cheese dumplings and gruyere crou­tons? And these were just the en­tree choices.

Gourmet con­sid­er­a­tions aside, there were sev­eral more im­por­tant de­ci­sions to be made. Should I watch a movie, or TV on the 22-inch screen al­most 2m away at the op­po­site end of my Eti­had Di­a­mond first-class suite?

And with more than 600 choices on the E-Box in-flight en­ter­tain­ment sys­tem, what should I choose?

Or should I take a nap, clos­ing the or­nate Ara­bian-style metal lat­tice doors to my suite for ab­so­lute pri­vacy?

But a nap would mean chang­ing into my sleep suit ( al­low­ing me to ar­rive un­crum­pled af­ter a 14-hour flight) and I still wasn’t sure if I wanted to snooze, or per­haps be so­cial and in­vite a trav­el­ling com­pan­ion around for lunch. And was the sleep suit ap­pro­pri­ate at­tire when one is hav­ing com­pany in first class?

Or should I grab my suit jacket from its mini wardrobe in the suite’s side wall and try to look as if I be­longed in a very spe­cial space in the sky?

I pon­dered all this as I sat in a seat that took com­fort to new heights – it had an LCD con­trol screen to op­er­ate the re­cline and sleeper func­tions and even had a built-in mas­sage sys­tem.

And if the lux­u­ri­ous seat leather was supplied by the peo­ple who do the in­te­rior trim for Fer­raris, then the ser­vice was sim­ply Rolls-Royce.

Noth­ing was too much trou­ble, the crew were ut­terly de­ter­mined to de­liver a mem­o­rable fly­ing ex­pe­ri­ence on the 14-hour 45-minute flight from Syd­ney to Abu Dhabi and the in-flight food and bev­er­age man­ager was de­ter­mined to en­sure that my meal choices were matched by ap­pro­pri­ate wines. And what wines.

Of course, while I felt rather ex­clu­sive sit­ting in a spot re­served for the lucky few, I wasn’t ex­actly a pre­mium pi­o­neer.

First-class travel has a long and rather glo­ri­ous his­tory.

In the 1930s, fly­ing re­mained very much a nov­elty and long-haul trips were rare. Qan­tas fly­ing boats of the era, while much slower than to­day’s

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