Earlier this week I flew to Auckland and back for a meeting. As we were disembarking in Wellington the pilot was standing with the cabin crew by the cockpit, and it just popped out:
I wasn’t meaning to be a smart-arse, and it was only when I was halfway up the air bridge that I realised that it might have sounded that way. It’s just that, well, popping here and there on short-haul feels very much like catching a bus, doesn’t it?
I can remember when flying anywhere was an exotic adventure. My first flight was as a kid on a Fokker Friendship, Hamilton to Wanganui, and it was all I could talk about for weeks before and afterwards. My first international flight was when I was 16, on a DC-10 to Singapore. (Beautiful planes, smooth as, and so amazing to have those rubber hose headsets so you could listen to the soundtrack of that movie playing on the one screen in the centre of the cabin. Chur.)
Nowadays we naturally expect hundreds of movies on our own screen, and I hunker down to just chill through the whole thing, and stay away from the alcohol because even if it’s free, it’s just not worth it.
Etihad has just revealed the in-flight experience they’re going to offer on their A380s between Australia and Europe, and if you’ve got the dosh the sky really is the limit. It’s a four class set-up: economy, business, first and “The Residence“:
a suite including its own bedroom, sitting room, bathroom, shower and personal butler.
And you know what? Yawn. You don’t get there any faster. You’re still in a metal tube hanging improbably in the air, the movies don’t get any better, and it’s still the same driver up front. Maybe you can get the butler to do a whole lot of pointless errands, but any fun in that would have to wear off pretty quickly.
Also, I’m thinking that all those people slumming it in first-class are now feeling really peeved. While all the people back in economy are focused on what they’re going to do when they actually get there.
So, to the pilot on NZ465 on Monday night: sorry, it wasn’t a jibe, it was meant to be a compliment. You got us in on time, and the long glide in over a beautiful Wellington harbour was as gentle as a duvet. Job well done.