Seven hours of being so close yet so far meant sheer torment for Patrick Hulbert
I was given a ticket with seat 7C written on it. When I saw this, I knew I’d been upgraded. I thought to myself, ‘ok, I’m probably in first class, but I don’t want to get my hopes up, so I’ll assume it’s business class and then won’t be disappointed.’ I am, of course, talking aeroplanes.
I’ve never been in any class other than economy. A little about myself: I’m from England and a Midlander, meaning that I’m from the centre of the country. Not north, not south. Anyway, we Midlanders are a hardy bunch, and paying extra is something we don’t like doing, hence my only experiences of first and business class travel on flights have been walking through them to sit with the rest of the dirham savers and general public – a clan in which I’m proud to count myself a member.
I’ve always liked economy class and never understood the fuss about it. Chuck me row 20-something and as long as it’s an aisle seat on long-haul flights, I’m happy (convenient comfort breaks). That said, knowing I was going to be sitting in 7C filled me with unbounded joy. A smug ‘oh yeah’ kept going through my head. However, as it transpired, there were only two classes on this flight: first, and economy. First class stopped at 5.
I don’t think anyone was sitting in first class at all so the curtains that separate the masses from the José Mourinho-esque ‘special ones’ was not in operation. It meant seven hours of looking at what I could have won. A wonderful leather couch and a TV that is bigger than the one in my living room was in sight, eluding me. It was like a mirage – maybe I can reach it? Maybe I can touch it? Maybe I could be sat there right now? Dream on, Patrick, you’re in 7C, and before you get to 5, you’ve got 6 to contend with.
In 6 was a family, with young children – very young children. Very tired, hungry, upset, screaming children, creating all kinds of smells and noises. With one eye I could see the oasis; with the other, the reality. Why did they put me so close yet so far? Before, I was content with my seat in the middle or the rear of the aircraft – why did this have to happen to me? Why show somebody something they can’t get? Why be so cruel?
So the big question: Will I be flying business class on my next trip? Of course not; who do you think I am? I’ll sit in with the cargo if it saves me a few fils.
Patrick Hulbert is editor of Time Out Doha. His favourite fictional character is Scrooge, before he got all charitable. Bah humbug!