Tried and tested: Club World

Like most people, I’ve only ever flown economy – apart from one memorable occasion flying back from India where I was magically upgraded to premium economy at the gate – and like most people, I usually walk through the business class cabin with wistful glances at the ample leg room and champagne being handed around before I tuck myself into my tiny cattle class seat. Last week, however, I was fortunate enough to fly Club World – largely due to my very kind brother (who works for British Airways) putting my husband and I on his premium standby concession.

I’ve written before about whether paying for a luxury cabin on a flight is worth it for your honeymoon, and I do stick by what I said – flying business class (and, to an even greater extent, first class) is very, very expensive, and if it means that you’d have to sacrifice other parts of your honeymoon then it’s not worth it. But if you can afford it? Then absolutely go for it.

Okay, so I knew that we’d get a lot more space in Club World, but nothing really prepared me for how good it would feel. We’re not just talking about a little bit more space – there’s huge amounts of space, and I spent the entire flight (apart from when I was eating), with my feet up on my footrest, and my legs stretched out. This, of course, does wonders for your comfort, especially as you can also lower your seat back, and sleep stretched out in your seat – after getting up at 4am that morning, this was an amazing luxury, though I was too excited about being in Club to sleep for too long.

Then there’s the food. Now, my brother had told me that the food in Club was good (and even better in First, he assures me), but I didn’t really believe that it could be that good – after all, airline food is airline food, right? Wrong. First of all, don’t underestimate how much of a difference it makes eating off china plates with proper knives and forks. Then there’s the fact that your courses are served separately, so you don’t just get a tray with everything on it, and you can pace your meals out a bit better. Our first meal on the flight was breakfast – granola with yoghurt and fruit compote, plus a choice of fresh fruit or smoked halibut with dill creme fraiche to start (I had the fish as there was no fruit left and it was – surprisingly – absolutely delicious), and a choice of hot dishes, from an English breakfast to scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, and blueberry french toast – with no sign of those anaemic looking eggs that normally get served (thank goodness). In addition to the usual tea and coffee, we could also choose to have fresh fruit juice, bucks fizz or champagne (having also had a glass of fizz before take off – well, it’s never too early for champagne!) with the meal. No prizes for guessing which one we went for…

Another great thing about flying Club is the Club Kitchen, where you can help yourself to all manner of treats from sandwiches, wraps and crisps to biscuits, chocolate and ice cream, not to mention wine and other drinks, which means that if you get peckish during the flight (or are just a little bit greedy, like us), then you don’t have to wait for the next meal service. This must be especially good on long flights – say to places in the Far East – where there usually seems to be quite a long gap between meal services. Shortly before we landed, we were served afternoon tea, which included delicious sandwiches (with the crusts cut off, of course), and a choice of warm plain and raisin scones with proper clotted cream and jam. Delicious.

In-flight entertainment was much the same as in economy, but with the benefit of a large screen that could be shut away if you didn’t want it, and moved and angled to give you the best view. This was complemented by really good headphones that did a great job at shutting out the aeroplane noise, which really made watching films during the flight more enjoyable.

Then there’s the fact that you’re among the first people to get off the plane, and thus among the first to clear immigration and get your bags – allowing you more time to enjoy your destination. Considering we’d been up since 4am and landed at 11am New York time (4pm UK time), I didn’t expect the flight to have much of an effect on how we would feel once we got off the flight, but it really did – we both felt refreshed and a lot more energetic and relaxed than we normally do after a flight, and when we arrived at the hotel to find our room wasn’t yet ready, we were able to spend a few hours wandering around town before checking in, and it took quite a while before we started flagging. If we’d been in economy then I’m pretty sure we would’ve spent a good couple of hours slumped in a cafe and desperately trying to wake up a bit.

All this isn’t to say that you have to fly in Club (or whatever business class might be called on your preferred airline) on your honeymoon, far from it. It’s still prohibitively expensive for most people – there’s no way that we could have afforded to fly Club without my brother’s standby concession – and for most of us, that kind of money would be much better spent on quite a few nights in a great hotel or even on the honeymoon as a whole. But if you can afford it, then you should do it – Matthew and I both turned to each other after the flight (we had to fly economy home, alas) and said “if we can ever afford to fly Club, we are definitely going to”, though I can’t quite imagine our respective careers ever getting us quite to that position… It is pricey, but if it’s money that you can afford to spend, then you really will find it worthwhile on a long flight – kicking off your honeymoon with near-non-stop champagne, decent food, plenty of rest and much nicer, more comfortable surroundings, will mean that you’re much more likely to get off the plane raring to go, rather than desperate to collapse in a heap as soon as you get to your hotel.

If you can’t afford it, however, it’s worth remembering that the flight is only a small part of your honeymoon – and no matter how uncomfortable or comfortable it is, once you’re actually on the ground and at your destination, it won’t really matter any more. Spend the money on the rest of your honeymoon and it’ll feel much more worthwhile, I promise.

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