Skip to content

How you know you’re not really Upper Class

2013 September 2
by Zoe Strimpel
The pleasures of travel when you're rich.

The pleasures of travel when you’re rich.


I could never be a real upperclass person.

When I checked in for my flight to Delhi this morning, I knew there was a high chance I’d been upgraded due to my press connections (wink, nudge – and yes, I will write about it). But there was a chance I wouldn’t (be upgraded) because it was “space-available”. My breath notably quickened as I logged on. But when I saw my seat – 9K – right next to the bar, an enormous grin spread over my face, as though I’d just been offered the job of my dreams, and I air punched even though I was on my own.

I arrived at the airport 2.5 hours before the flight took off – not quite as long as I’d have liked given that the Virgin Clubhouse was awaiting (any booze in the world! A whole snow goose bar! A haircutter!) – but a woman has chores to do. As the taxi pulled up, I saw a special Virgin Upper Class ramp and said: “oh! I’m Upper Class! Can we go there?” No, we had to have booked it in advance.

When we entered the Terminal Three drop-off, my blood pressure soared more than normal for a person arriving at an airport. I had to get out! Time was ticking and the lounge and the Gray Goose bar with all those tart and generous and artfully made cocktails wasn’t getting any closer to serving ME a drink!

Before the car stopped, I’d clocked the Virgin sign, raced in, nearly knocked down some slow-coaches preparing to queue for Economy, and beelined it to the Upper Class desk. My combined impatience and imperiousness fairly oozed off me, there was basically a sign on me saying, to the large family in front, “c’mon people, some of us have cocktails to drink, ginger gyozas and smoked salmon to scoff, wine lists to read, and blog posts using (free!) Clubhouse Wifi to write vaunting the joys of the rich person’s lifestyle! This was a clear sign that I was not used to this kind of thing – or, if I was, that it could be taken from me at any moment. Not very Upper Class.

I raced through the swarming island of the hoi polloi, buying duty free chocolates for the children I am on my way to teach and some sundries at Boots, and then made it to the Lounge. Two, TWO, Heathrow employees asked me where I was headed, so flusteredly intent was I trying to attain my destination. I made it. Raced to the Grey Goose lounge, conversed with the barman about the perfect cocktail for me (lemon drop – sour and salty) and, as he started to make it, went up to the outdoor terrace where you can watch the planes. It was warm and the sky was orange as the light haemorrhaged from the sky, leaving violent streaks. The roar of engines waxed and waned as flights for Taiwan and Beirut and Newark pulled out of their stands and, glued to a yellow brick path of green lights, made their way to the runway for takeoff

I am writing this now, three cocktails in – one Lemon Drop, one Poire Caipiroska, one Pisco Sour, about to board a plane where my journey to Delhi will involve duvets, Hollywood’s latest, champagne, paratha and tikka masala – and can tell you these things. It’s awesome to fly Upper Class. Being rich has major upsides.

Are they worth the money, and the kind of careers necessary for attaining them?

For me? Sadly the answer is still a big double no.



No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS