I’m always up for a visit to a airport `check-in counter at an airport, because on average, it means that you’re leaving somewhere and getting on a plane. And this is exactly the case today.
Miss Emma and I are flying to and from Bali in Business Class. We’ve worked really hard and figure that we should treat ourselves. I’m really looking forward to it.
We are picked up at 6am and are taken to the airport.
It’s my first time ever flying Business Class so I’m pretty excited. Close friends have questioned how I’ve managed to reconcile my lefty leanings with flying up the pointy end of the plane. It’s quite simple, really. I like that you have the extra leg room. I like that you get treated better, I like that its quiet and I like that there’s a level of service that you don’t get in pleb class. I also like that there’s no plebs. Sue me.
I worked hard to pay for this, so I’m going to enjoy it.
Check in is quick, pain-free and our man at the check in counter apologises profusely for the wait (it couldn’t have been more than five minutes, tops. I think I’m going to like this!).
We are given priority customs passes and passes to the Qantas Business Lounge. Hell yes. We arrive at the lounge after some Duty-Free shopping (Note; Kiehl’s Counter. You could have made a motza this morning, but Miss Emma was ignored at your display stand. Just thought you should know), and I’m blown away. Airline travel has never been like this for me before. It’s a buffet breakfast, there are no locks on the beer fridge doors (it’s 4 o’clock somewhere, right people?) and there is enough seating to accommodate hundreds of people. It’s nice and quiet. Just the way I like it!
We have brekky (sugar-free for me, of course) and then hear our flight called. We head to the gate and it is with much pleasure that we by-pass the Economy line and head to the Business Class boarding lane. Again, we’re treated like royalty. I likez this very much.
We board the plane, the cabin crew escort us to our seats and I lose my shit inside my head. Massive seats, pillows, blankets, the little toiletries bag and complimentary champagne sparkling wine on arrival.
Yes. Complimentary wine with bubbles. Thank you very much.
Okay, so I know fuck-all the aviation business, but it seems to me that the growth of the cut-price airline has done two things: given the bogan greater flexibility to expand its travel horizons and lowered our expectations of what airline travel is, and should be like. To me its like 15-20 years ago, we all got to drive BMW’s and then an accountant decided that you can still get around in a Datsun 180B. Which is true, you can still get around in a 180B, but it’s not going to be as reliable, safe or as comfortable to get around in as the BMW. Now add in the attitude of some airlines (Qantas/Jetstar, I’m looking at YOU) that you should accordingly only get 180B levels of service because that’s all you’re paying for. You want to have a drink on a six-hour flight? Show me the money. You want to watch a movie on a three hour flight? Driver’s Licence and $50 thanks.
Now, before you all accuse me of snobbery, remember this: the ONLY way to get to Denpasar airport in Bali using an Australian-based airline company on the eastern seaboard is a cut-price domestic airline.
You don’t have the choice of a Qantas or Virgin Atlantic service and as I write this, you have to travel to Perth to use Air-Asia. And yeah, I want to break up the flight by staying in Perth for a half a day then continue my journey. Yeah, I want to fly with Singapore, Emirates, Etihad or Cathay Pacific to get to Bali except these airlines all fly direct to Singapore (9 hours) or Thailand (similar) – meaning you FLY PAST WHERE YOU WANT TO GET TO, in order to get to where you want to get to. AND it will take you 2 days (usually) to get there.
I guess I’m alone on this, but I am happy to pay a little extra and receive that thing we used to all know and love called ‘service’. But we Australians are a fucked-up lot sometimes. We whinge about banking fees, interest rates and billion-dollar bank profits while owning bank shares. We whinge about traffic, but won’t vote in any political party that says they’ll spend what’s needed to fix public transport, we demand privacy and consider that the families of public figures (political figures anyway) are off-limits, but distrust a politician who won’t explain why she chooses to be childless. And we love to travel, but put up with shit service and standards without demanding better of our local airlines.
I’m not saying we should get more without paying a little extra, but some of the hassles our wedding guests went through after PAYING for some flights on Jetstar only to have those flights arbitrarily cancelled and two day alternate route trips offered as replacements, you know someone’s getting screwed in a none-too-nice fashion and you don’t need a Tom Waterhouse market to tell you it sure as shit isn’t Alan Joyce.
If disliking having to pay through the nose for the most basic of refreshments on an international flight makes me an elitist snob, then I’m happy to be an elitist snob.
Like Gold Class Cinema’s, now that I’ve flown Business Class, I’m not sure I could ever go back.
We arrive at Ngurah Rai airport (Denpasar) and being up the pointy end of the plane, get customised, visa’d and bags in double quick time. We meet our driver Nyoman and it takes close to half an hour to leave the airport. For whatever reason, the airport has built a bunch of food outlets where an airport parking lot used to be. It’s not the extra walk that’s a problem, it’s that less parking means all of the pick up shuttles are now all slammed into one tiny area, hence the time it takes to get out. It’s no one’s fault, but all the resort buses are blocking the smaller villa pick-ups and private pick ups from getting out as they wait for the large groups to get out of customs. Personally, I think it’s great that Victoria’s Public Transport Authority or whatever they call themselves these days, have branched out and gotten involved in international transportation matters.
One of the first things I notice is the stifling humidity. I’m not going to be the arsehole who goes to a tropical climate and whinges about the heat, but for late May/early June in Bali, this is pretty bloody bad. Even the Balinese are sweaty and a little terse. And when that’s happening, you know it’s not just you.
We’ve chosen June to get shackled as it is just on the fringe of peak holiday season, but also the most temperate weather conditions here in Bali. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still beats the shit out of the current weather in Australia, but it’s not uncommon to see the locals getting around on their scooters with sweaters, cardigans and hoodies on. It’s around 26-27 and the humidity is, like Goldilocks, just right!
But standing here loading the car up with Nyoman, in overcast hot conditions I’m suddenly fearful that we’ve dragged folks over into some pretty oppressive weather. It’s not ne being overly negative; Miss Emma has been keeping an eye on the weather for the last couple of weeks and it really hasn’t changed much from 30-degrees, thunderstorms and 80% humidity for the last two weeks. The outlook for the remainder of the week too, suggests that the pattern will continue. I guess there’s not much we can do about it now.
For all that whinging, I’ll take this over being in Melbourne!
We arrive soon after at the Pelangi. Emma – as usual – is greeted like the older sister who left home a few years ago. We check in to our room and get unpacked. As you would expect, I’ve left my anti-biotics at home, but instead grabbed double of some other prescription med’s I take. Dickhead. On the plus side, the bottles of Veuve Clicquot that we had stashed away in our luggage (within the acceptable customs importation limits, of course) survived the trip. One more box ticked off
Soon, our tailor, Ayu, arrives to make up the clothes I’ll be wearing at the wedding. We’ve brought over a pair of trousers and I shirt that look great and the tailor will be copying them in to loose cotton trousers and a linen shirt. Perfect for the conditions. She takes one look and says they’ll be ready by the end of this week. Cest Magnifique! That’s one significant box ticked! Emma is telling Ayu how she’s looking forward to a massage, and she tells us that we should try the spa at the newly opened Grandmas Hotel across the road. They currently have a 90 minute full body massage costing just 99,000rp. Converted into $AUD, that’s change from $10. Amazing.
As she leaves, the heavens open and some serious thunderstorms break out. I’ve always found being somewhere quiet and being able to listen to or watch rain falling quite relaxing and this is no exception. I’m slowly kicking into holiday mode.
Around 90 or so minutes later, its stopped raining. Usually the first thing we do is head to the local convenience store and get some bottled water and organise local SIM cards. We head out and organise the phones and some water and head straight to Grandmas and the spa on level 5.
Emma launches into the full body massage (or massase as the locals call them, bless ’em) and I indulge in a 15 minute Garra Rufa fish foot treatment and foot massage.
It’s not for everyone, that’s for sure, but if you can handle little tingly sensations in your feet and lower legs, I strongly advise all y’all to get out there and get these lil dudes to work on your dead skin cells. It is AWESOME. And the foot massage? Well, let’s just say that Vincent was wrong, Jules was right, but that I can understand why Marcellus Wallace threw Antoine Rockamura out that fourth floor window. Done right, there’s not a much more relaxing way to unwind than a foot massage.
We arrive back at the Pelangi blissed out and oh so ready for some sleep. That Miss Emma managed to find a local station showing the Monaco F1 Grand Prix while I was in the shower is but ONE of the many reasons I am putting a ring it.
We fall asleep listening to the buzz of the F1’s zinging around the streets of Monaco and I’m quietly excited about visiting the wedding venue tomorrow: Karma Kandara in Uluwatu.