Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go
But I elbow-lever my way out of bed anyway, because I am E-X-C-I-T-E-D!!!
Today I will cross an item off my bucket list - fly Cathay Pacific First Class across the Pacific Ocean.
The much-afeared traffic doesn’t materialize, so the bus disgorges us onto the entrance for Hong Kong International airport 3 hours ahead of my scheduled flight. I have plenty of time to enjoy “The Wing” First Class lounge, which I’ve been slavering over for years now.
The Wing - Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge
No matter how fancy schmancy your ticket or how high you hold your nose, you can’t avoid airport security, so I wait in line with the unwashed plebeian masses. Actually, I am unwashed too, due to the early hour of my hurried and harried departure from the hotel and hour-long bus ride.
After passing through security and immigration, I take an immediate secret left turn that I had been told about, and end up in Cathay Pacific’s The Wing First Class Lounge. And it is dazzling. From the rosewood-filled restaurant to the sleek black lines in the bathroom completely obscuring the toilets, to the plush luxury chairs, I feel stunned from the moment I rock up and am immediately greeted by five staff members “at my service.”
While I can’t change the fact that I’m a normal human being, as plebeian as anyone else, I CAN fix the fact that I am unwashed. So as my first order of business I head to the showers, and luxuriate accordingly.
The showers are basically identical to the ones down in the Business class lounge, where I have been before, but the hygiene products are of higher quality, or at least more expensive-looking. Actually, the word I’m looking for is understated. The Business class lounge, like many others I’ve been in, goes out of its way to demonstrate to you that you’re above other folks in the airport, separate and nowhere near equal. The First Class areas, however, aim to convince you that you’re relaxing at your own home, and happen to have several dozen people to anticipate your every need before you even realize you have it.
Case in point - after my shower I wander over still bleary-eyed to the restaurant, where they have a sumptuous buffet and prepared meals, both free. My own breakfast was minimal, and several hours ago, so my hunger is ravening. I pick up various delicious and beautifully presented buffet items and meander back to my seat while munching contentedly on a piece of oh-my-dear-God-what-is-that-it-is-so-delicious.
When I arrive to my seat, a server is clearing plates from another guest and blocking my only path back to my seat. After less than three seconds of me nonchalantly waiting, not bothered one whit, the manager sprints over with a horrified face and pulls the server bodily out of my way, and quietly berates her for positional obtuseness and slowing me down. By a grand total of five seconds. When I clearly could not have cared less.
Wow. These people are dead serious about service.
First Class Seat And Surrounds
On taking my seat, I notice marked differences from Business class immediately. The seat is at least 50% wider, and a good chunk longer - I can’t touch the top and bottom without stretching as far as I can. And I am six feet tall, so that’s saying something. And the service was simply spectacular. We have two flight attendants for five people in first class, as the sixth seats was empty.
The flight attendants introduce themselves, bring me a glass of champagne and some kind of expensive-looking mango tart thing that was other-worldly-magnificent, and gave me a personalized welcome card thanking me for choosing to fly with Cathay Pacific. I just did a search on my ticket, and if I had paid cash it would have cost $13,521.30 plus taxes and fees. So $14,000? Maybe $15,000? Wow.
I fall immediately asleep - last night was par for my recent course, sleep-wise, so my current sleep debt is severe, and the plush comfort is too much for my willpower. I awake with a start an hour or two later to enjoy lunch, which started with my first-ever caviar.
I have dreamed about eating caviar. It is… heavenly. And paired with a drink called “Pacific Sunrise” involving champagne and citrus, even better. They serve it with some weird bits of expensive-looking fluffed egg. I poke at them dubiously, but I’m pretty sure they are just egg, so I have a go at it and I try them. Yup, just egg. Oh, and some fresh cream, which I enjoy thoroughly.
Lunch continued with a delightful Mesclun salad. I have no clue what a Mesclun is, but Michael assures me it does not have meat in it. It is raw, vegetarian and healthy, and I am happy. Unfortunately, they have run out of both the vegetarian and seafood entrees by the time I woke up, so I end up compromising and going with the chicken soup, which I must admit was yummy.
After lunch I watch “The Martian.” I loved it! I can understand why so many friends adored it when they saw it in the theaters a few months ago, and now I proudly join the Martian fan club. What a wonderful way to while away two hours.
I try to follow suit with my First Class Cabin compatriots and go to sleep after the movie, but fail miserably, tossing and turning with my nose stuffy from the recycled pressurized air. Apparently my catnap was all I was going to get on this 11-hour flight, which does not bode well for my functioning tomorrow, but oh well.
Pretty Pictures And Ugly Thoughts
After half a desperate hour of combing through my bags and seats, I give up and go confess my stupidity to Michael, the amazing flight attendant. He leaps into action to contact the Lounge staff to ascertain the location of my wayward computer.
And that’s when I realized I’m even stupider than I thought I was.
I sit down in my seat, defeated, wondering how in the hell I’m going to get my laptop from Hong Kong, when I look into the cranny under my television and see my laptop, glaring balefully at me like the idiot I already feel like. I had taken it out of my bag, to use during the trip, then instantly fell asleep and forgotten that I had done so.
Oh dear God.
I called Michael to tell him the embarrassing but great news. And promptly ordered a Haagen Dazs and a glass of Baileys. It’s a full fat ice cream and liqueur kind of day.
I finish the ice cream and pull out my laptop, inspired to write this blog post about my experience, and what should happen next but I DUMP BAILEYS ALL OVER MY BRAND NEW LAPTOP’S KEYBOARD.
Today is not my day.
I begin whining to myself about how many crappy things are happening in a row and how frustrated I am Meanwhile, I down the Bailey’s in two gulps, turn the computer upside down so no more liquid will seep inside, and while holding the laptop upside down, wipe down the keyboard with a paper napkin. I shamefacedly call Michael back yet again, hand him the glass and ask him for a couple of those hot wet washcloths that you wash your face and hands with before eating. You know, the ones they bring you when you’re in First Class.
He brings three, and I use them to clean the keyboard and my tray table, so neither get sticky, and remove the ice cube from my duvet cover. I begin whining pettily to myself again as I get rid of the ice cube.
Then, I realize what I’m doing. I am whining about an ice cube. On my duvet cover. On my first class lay flat seat. Flying across the Pacific. On a $14000 ticket, for a hundred fifty bucks and some fictitious points. With practically a personal servant, who is delightful.
Yeah, shut up and quit whining.
So I did.
And here I am.
My computer appears to be okay, Thank God, as I then write this blog post.
Los Angeles, here I come!
Sam Is Currently: 2 hours and 13 minutes outside of Los Angeles at 37,000 feet (11,000 meters).