I flew from New York to London the other day.
All else being equal, like most people, I would rather fly Business Class or First Class than Economy Class.
But all else is distinctly not equal. So I don’t.
Happily, with some help from my wife, I have finally figured out how to fly First Class for the price of coach.
My transformational adventure started at the gleaming new Delta Terminal at New York's JFK. For the first time in decades, parts of this American airport don't look like they belong in the third world.
There are also hip brands. Airport people have finally figured out that airport eaters prefer to eat the same stuff at airports that they eat in the outside world.
The one drawback about the new Delta terminal is that it's nearly endless. If your gate karma is poor, you'll be getting lots of exercise before you get on your plane.
If you rush too fast through the new Delta terminal, you might miss some important details. So let me take a moment to highlight two of them. First, there are plugs in the lounges! For the modern traveller, plugs are a must.
Second, the Delta Terminal designers have learned from scientific experiments that, if you paint a little fly in the urinals, men will aim at it. That reduces careless splashing!
In modern airports, of course, no sponsorship opportunity goes unsold. On my Delta flight to London, HSBC sponsored the walk down the jetway.
Delta has been getting a lot better lately, by the way. Their slogan is 'rising.' As far as I can tell, they are indeed rising.
The seats are leather-like, for example. For seats that get sweated on and spilled on for ~15 hours a day, that's vastly better than cloth.
The legroom is tight, of course. But Delta now offers an 'Economy Comfort' section in which you can buy some more legroom. It's expensive, though. More expensive than the optional flying supplement that I was about to employ.
The leather-like seats also come with a critical additional benefit -- customisable, foldable headrest ends.
These may not sound like much, but they make all the difference. They hold your head in one position when you sleep. I took an overnight flight on JetBlue the other week. I was sitting next to an actor from 'Hellboy' who was hitting on a comely Twitter staffer all night long. I didn't get a wink of sleep. And not just because of the relentless charming. JetBlue seats don't have those customisable headrests. So my head flopped.
But it was time for me to stop looking around and, instead, complete the transformation of my Economy experience into one that rivaled the 'fully flat beds' and hours of snoozing that you sometimes get in Business and First Class...
I had begun this process, by the way, back in the terminal lounge. While I was charging up my gadgets with the plugs, I removed from my satchel a little box my wife had given me...
Forty-five minutes later, ensconced in my coach seat, headrest flaps extended, I removed the second piece of critical First-Class-for-the-price-of-Coach equipment from my satchel. It was an eyeshade from a long-ago-and-far-away Business Class flight. I donned the eyeshade, and rested my suddenly groggy head against the headrest flap...
The next 6 hours basically disappeared. I do have vague memories of bodily readjustments, odd dreams, and my mouth hanging as wide open as a grouper's.
The guy sitting next to me was astounded. I had apparently slept, lolled, and (probably) drooled on him all night long. 'Boy, did you have some sleep to catch up on there, fella!' he said. Or something like that.
Minutes later, we pulled up at the gate in London. I had gotten nearly 6 hours of sleep. Unprecedented -- and way more than I got on a 'fully flat bed' Business Class flight I took last year. That little $2 pill had transformed my Economy flight into First Class. I may never fly without one again!
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