When I walk onto a plane nowadays, I look scornfully at those in Business Class even as they disdainfully avoid my gaze. (These are domestic flights I’m talking about.) The thought in my head is, “You paid Rs. 18,000 for a two hour flight from Delhi to Calcutta?? Dimaag kharaab hai??”
The spellchecker on my computer, of course, doesn’t understand “Dimaag kharaab hai??”and keeps trying to change it to “Damaged Cherubs’ Hair??”
Granted, Business Class is beautiful and plush. The seats are large and only two to a row, politely angled away from each other with little partitions between them so that the flyer in Seat 1A never needs to interact with the the flyer in Seat 1B. Economy Class is cramped, of course, thus giving rise to the greatest question, ever, in the history of commercial aviation — “WHO GETS TO KEEP THEIR ELBOW ON THE ARM REST BETWEEN SEATS?”
I invariably find myself engaged in a silent elbow war with the person next to me whilst in flight. I take it very personally if they hog the arm rest and I view it as an act of aggression and encroachment. I watch that arm rest closely out of the corner of my eye the whole time, and quickly occupy it the second the other person removes his elbow. I then pretend to be fast asleep. Sometimes the person next to me is shameless enough to try and elbow my elbow off the arm rest and finds, to his chagrin, that he can’t. It’s a bit Mr. Bean, I know, but who cares.
So anyway, what IS the best way to travel domestic airlines? Premium economy, of course. For just Rs. 1000 more, (give or take a few hundred) you can travel in luxury. Yes, I mean LUXURY! Imagine not sitting like a pretzel with your arms crossed across your chest for 2 hours and NOT having your knees knock against the back of the chair in front of you. Or worse, having the boor behind you grind his knees into the back of YOUR chair!
Oh yeah, baby, Premium Economy is the way to go!
In Premium Economy, the stewardess will actually address you by name! She will pull out a little piece of paper, look at it, put it away, and then smile like a woman in love, and say, “Mr. Kumar, welcome aboard. Would you like to have a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian meal, sir.”
Full sentences with articles and prepositions! She will then go on to ask, “Would you like to have a beverage too?”
You mean, other than the one you’ve already served in the tray? Yeah, sure, lady, why not?
“Would you like some ice in it too?”
I am not used to this. I say, “Yes please,” even though I don’t actually want ice in my additional beverage. (It’s a bit like, how, when I am driving from Point A to Point B in the city of Delhi and suddenly find an empty parking spot somewhere between Points A and B, I will go and park there for a few minutes, just for the sheer pleasure of finding a free spot and parking in it. Even though it is nowhere near my destination.)
The stewardess will then say, “I’ll bring you tea or coffee right after, sir”. Mind you, this is probably the same lady who has just told the people in Economy, “Do we LOOK like we serve tea and coffee on this flight?? Do we?? Huh??” Though probably not in those exact same words.
This is also a very big change from the curt “Veg or non-veg, Economy Class scum?” (They don’t actually SAY “Economy Class scum” but you can feel it . It’s in the air. Back there, you feel a tad guilty even asking for a bottle of water. In Premium Economy, however, they give you water AND face wipes AND salad AND desert AND … wait for it… stainless steel cutlery!
Once the food and beverage service has finished, the cabin light in your section magically turns a calming, relaxing blue. (Nothing of the sort happens back in Economy.) You also get to use the first class washroom in the front of the plane next to the cockpit, and on your way back to your seat, you get the chance yet again to look derisively at the poofies sitting in Business Class. (Spellcheck tried to first charge that to “poodles” and then to “poopies” but I didn’t let it, although…. well …)
Life is difficult, folks. Fly Premium Economy, and at least luxuriate for two hours, before the election results of UP, Punjab, Uttarakhand etc are announced, and the price of petrol, diesel and airline skyrocket, and you have to travel on foot the rest of your days.