So the journey has started. More than a dozen of us are heading to Japan to help little Mark celebrate his 50th birthday. It's a long trip but every journey starts with a first step. Or in our case a first class step.
I hate flying. I really do. But the stress of it all can have its up sides it turns out. If you do it right.
When booking this trip Stuart and I were lucky enough to be able cash in a ton of airmiles and so early Thursday morning we found ourselves in the First Class Lounge at Heathrow Terminal 5 sipping fizz and waiting for a complimentary facial and back massage. Lucky us, huh?
Flying is a funny old business. All the stress of booking the flights in the first place... Who do you fly with? Budget? Posh? What class should you fly? Have you got a big deal? Why do you have to pay all that landing and take off tax? But then we realise we have airmiles. Lots of them. So the lovely man at British Airways booked us a first class ticket. All the way to Tokyo. Lovely man.
Then there's the palava of packing. Oh the stress! Are we taking enough clothes? We'll need three weeks worth of stuff. At least. T-shirts, long sleeved shirts, pants, socks, trousers smart, trousers causal, coats, sweatshirts, shorts, hats, gloves, chargers, batteries, guide books... We might not be able to wash anything. And what if we rains? Let's pack for hot weather and cold. Oh better be safe than sorry and throw in an extra couple of pairs of trouser thens. And extra shirts too. And an extra coat in case it rains. And can you buy the toiletries at the other end? Oh put them in anyway. Good. That's everything.
Ah... Now... Look... Will that case actually close!
Then the next stress is what time to actually leave for the airport. Have we checked in? Three hours before take off? Four? What's the traffic like? Are the tubes running ok? Where's our passports? The visas? Oh we've forgotten the tickets! Who's going to water the plants? Oh let's just get out the door!
And then we arrive at the airport. Where do we check in? This place is huge. It's all so confusing. Oh look at the queue! Will we make it through on time? Is that queue bigger than that one? Should we swap queues? Oh cripes I hope the bags don't weigh too much.
And then we're through check-in. And lining up for security. With a guilty expression on your face. About something you haven't done. Because it's security. And you just feel guilty anyway... about something you haven't got in your case. But there are lots and lots of security people looking at you. Everywhere. With x-ray machines. And guns. So guilt becomes your modus operandi.
But we make it though. Unarrested. And lovely British Airways lady checks our ticket and says "you gentlemen can go into The Concorde Lounge." And we do. And it's lovely. And posh. And we get offered hot towels. And champagne. And breakfast. And a facial. And a back massage. And it's lovely. And all the stress of the booking and packing and getting to the airport melts away.
In fact I quite like this flying lark now. If we can go first class. Everytime. From now on. Please.
And now we are on the plane. Sipping more champagne. And wondering if Joan Collins will be on our flight. Because she always goes first class. Like us.