Remember the phrase “getting there is half the fun”. The people who coined that phrase lived in a time when travel was done by train, or ship. Trains that had luxury coaches with fine dining, and beautiful, private rooms for the luxury traveler. Ships were even more luxurious with ballrooms, lounges, and all the amenities of a 5 star resort.
Then air travel came along. The speed of the commute cut down on the need for luxury accommodations, (who needs a suite when you can get most places in hours instead of days) but air travel was still quite classy. When I was young, people wore a suit and tie when they flew someplace. The airline served steak and wine on porcelain dinner ware with real silver ware. You drank out of real glass, and received slippers a blanket and pillow on longer flights. But something happened. Over the past couple decades. As more people took to the air demanding lower prices, and rising oil prices caused airlines to cram more people on fewer flights with less amenities, air travel became less classy. Seats got smaller. Meals disappeared, service declined. After a while, flying began to feel like taking a bus.
This has always caused me sadness. Because flight, by it’s very nature, is classy. It is proof of mankind mastery over our environment. The Greeks dreamed of flight when they wrote of Icarus. DaVinci dreamed of flight when he designed his amazing flying machines. But it was us that succeeded. And look at how far we have come. From the Wright Brothers first powered flight in 1903 of only 120 feet at under 10 miles per hour, to todays transcontinental flights carrying hundreds of passengers at 30,000 feet traveling 500 miles per hour… yes, we’ve come along way.
Many people will say that flying is the luxury all by itself. In many ways, I agree. If one was plan a vacation to to a luxury resort in Fiji’s Yasawa Island group, and book a flight from New York to Nadi, it is nearly a 22 hour flight. Why spend an additional 5 hors on a boat from Nadi to the Yasawa’s when a flight on one of Turtle Airways seaplanes is only 30 minutes? The luxury is in the four and a half hours extra you get to spend at your resort.
It is still nice to see that many airlines are beginning to add luxury back into the flight experience as well. Air France, for example, has added a private suite option to many flights. And even though this option can cost around $10,000 one way, if you are taking a 22 hour flight, isn’t it worth it?
Etihad Airways has taken the luxury flight experience a step further with their “residence” experience. At close to $30,000 for a one way ticket, you will receive a private living room, bathroom and bedroom as well as a personal butler on your flight.