The Playbook For The Modern Man

The Day I Realised The Golden Age Of Business Class Travel Was Over

“They’re noise-cancelling headphones, not fart cancelling.”

I know what you’re thinking, ‘boo hoo’ poor bloke has to fly business class. Must be so hard for him up the front. Honestly, you’re right. Cry me a river but this observation is less about the service or airline and more about the behaviour of people onboard.

The golden years of air travel were a luxurious affair reserved for those who would wear suits, blazers and loafers — a stylish and well-mannered affair. Today it’s a little different, with budget airlines, loyalty programs and new money opening up pointy end travel to almost everyone.

That means you’re going to get all walks of life onboard. Just one visit to the iconic Instagram page Passenger Shaming and you’re likely to agree and probably never set foot on a plane ever again.

What’s new, you might ask? Well — while we are veterans at putting our headphones on and zoning out to other people’s antics in Economy — in recent years we’ve noticed some bad behaviour proliferating Business Class too.

Two recent incidents suggest lie-flat travellers are not as classy as they like to think — and they are why I am reluctant to fly business class ever again.

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Incident #1

On a recent Qantas flight back from Melbourne to Sydney, I encountered what I call a ‘This my seat now!’ passenger. It was a bizarre moment where I boarded, walked to my seat and… was immediately confused as someone was already sitting in it. The woman didn’t say anything — instead pointing from my window seat to an empty aisle seat across the way.

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“I move. You there.”

She had taken it upon herself to move so she could sit next to her husband. Rather than kick up a fuss I took her commands like a little bitch, politely told the flight attendant we had switched and proceeded to hate the world for the next 60 minutes.

The kicker in the situation was her husband. In hindsight, moving was probably a good thing as this gentleman proceeded to cough up a lung every few minutes and use the barf bag to spit in the entire flight. Charming.

Incident #2

Just last week I took a last minute status run from Sydney to Melbourne in order to maintain my frequent flyer status. Totally unnecessary — but a good chance to see the family.

However, upon boarding the aircraft, I noticed the guy sitting next me giving the cabin crew a hard time. Not a good start but none of my business — I put my headphones on and looked busy, as I could tell this was the type of guy who would take any invitation to strike up a long and boring conversation.

Mission accomplished, I asked for a water and sat back to enjoy my rather expensive flight.

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Suddenly, halfway through, a stench enveloped my nostrils. Was it a beef burger? Not unless the airline chefs had made an eggy mistake. Was it a can of baked beans? Not unless you like your beans with a side of gross.

I turned down the volume of my music slightly, only to hear one of the most rank noises I’ve ever heard at 38,000 feet. The passenger next to me was happily (and loudly) farting — and he hadn’t even bothered to glance over at me, having assumed my noise-cancelling headphones would render me oblivious to his malfunctioning bowels.

Sorry mate — my Bose headphones are good but they’re not that good. Noise cancelling, yes, but not fart cancelling. I shot him a look dirtier than his gas and a few minutes later he went to the toilet. It was a minor victory but somehow I still felt like a loser. After all: if you want to hear this and fly in a state of discomfort, you don’t need to drop $1,200 to do so…

So what’s the big lesson here? Maybe stop booking Business Class tickets for one hour flights.

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  • Dan Bonn

    One must embrace the fart as farting is the essence of life

  • Mark Olsen

    Many of the people flying today could only afford a bus ticket 15 years ago. They are overweight, smelly, rude, and it’s all about them.

  • strato man

    The author says, “I may never fly business again” because of some bad experiences in business class, but does he think that things are better in coach? I fly a lot, coach, business and first, and I can say with confidence that it’s worse in coach.

    I was on a TAP flight from Porto to Newark about a year ago. I couldn’t get a business class seat because they were sold out so my wife and I flew coach. I was in the middle seat, next to a nicely dressed young woman, my wife in the aisle seat. The woman spoke almost no English, I speak no Portuguese, so she sat quietly for 7 hours, never even getting out of her seat. As we were coming into Newark she seemed very nervous, then just before touchdown she projectile vomited all over herself, the guy in front of her, and a tiny bit on my shirt and shoes. In business class her vomit would have hit nobody but in coach, with people packed in like sardines, she hit several.

    So besides getting some sleep, had I been able to get a business seat, I would have saved a shirt, a pair of shoes, and the chance of getting whatever she had (probably just motion sickness).

  • Cameron Lindsay

    Could we have a story based around how journalism isn’t what it was based on this appalling piece of trash?

  • Pete Cook

    From your comment you’re obviously an anti-Asian racist.You’re making assumptions based on prejudice.

  • pagophilus

    We need to stop pretending that civilised people don’t fart. They do, and it’s normal. And if you don’t, you may exclude and that won’t be fun.

  • Pete Cook

    Been there, done that, would go back to PRC tomorrow if given the chance. Also spent three years teaching English to mainland Chinese students so am very familiar with speech patterns, habits and attitudes thank you very much.

    The OP to which your original comment referred, made no comment at all as to the ethnicity of the individuals concerned. You inferred this simply because of a couple of missing participles and because of one person’s actions which you attribute to a single ethnic group.

    Perhaps it is you who should get out and go discover that most non-English speakers don’t display perfect speech patterns, and that habits and attitudes vary greatly across all different cultures and ethnicities. I repeat, your assumptions about the woman and her husband are based solely on prejudice, as are your assumptions about me. And you are totally incorrect in your assumptions about me.

    Therefore I say unto thee, “Go screw yourself.”

  • Pete Cook

    Has it occurred to your prejudiced little brain that this incident occurred on a flight from Melbourne to Sydney? Last time I checked, the PRC had not invaded Australia.

    Has it occurred to your prejudiced little brain that nowhere in the post is the ethnicity of the the travellers mentioned?

    Has it occurred to your prejudiced little brain that perhaps the OP is simply using the imperative voice to indicate a command – hence the dropped syntax?

    Could you use your prejudiced little brain to attempt to explain how you came to the conclusion that the travellers were mainland Chinese if not for some sort of negative stereotypical notion that suddenly popped into the vacuum between your ears and which you then decided to place on an international forum, no doubt in some misguided attempt to establish a degree of moral superiority over tan entire ethnic group which you seem bent on denigrating?

    Furthermore, your third paragraph needs serious work. After the sentence “I understand your disappointment” (What disappointment? The only thing I’m disappointed about in this whole exercise is you and your unsustainable and unproven diatribe) the rest of your paragraph is a wandering, barely comprehensible and poorly punctuated mishmash of words and cynicism which seem to be an attempt to establish some sort of moral superiority over me. Good luck with that. I’ve been insulted by experts in my lifetime and your efforts are amateurish at best.

    Typically – you cant substantiate your ill-founded accusations so all you can do is attack the messenger.

    I will call out racism and prejudice where and when I see it and you, Sir, have proven yourself to be both. If you have indeed spent any time in Mainland China I can only shake my head in wonder at what the poor buggers must have done to deserve you.

    Finally (and this WILL be final as I’ve wasted more than enough time) I think you need to understand that in any battle of wits, you’ve quite obviously handicapped yourself out of the race.

  • Pete Cook

    (Sigh) And so I’m forced to come out again in a reluctant debate with the willfully ignorant.

    Yes, PRC citizens are constant travelers to and within Australia (it’s spelled with only one ‘l’ by the way), as are Malaysians, Thai, Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese, German, British, New Zealanders, Greeks, Poles, Russians, Americans etc. etc. (I’m sure you get my point), not to mention Australians who also fly the same route any of whom are quite capable of contracting a chest cold or other temporary condition causing bronchial distress and causing the complainant to hack and, yes, spit in order to attempt to clear his or her throat. And now you add comment about the “numbers of PRC citizens who have immigrated to Australia and look to
    which ethnic group has been driving up real estate prices on the coast
    ” and claim you are NOT racist (because, of course, nobody else buys property and all real Australians are desperate to sell their property at the lowest possible price but those damn pesky Chinese will insist on paying more than the vendor really wants… Oh dear. NOT racist? You show your true colours with every word.

    Now I’m going to do a bit of shouting here because you seem to be delibrately missing my point… The OP at NO stage mentioned the race of the individuals concerned. YOU DIRECTLY ACCUSED MAINLAND CHINESE SIMPLY BECAUSE YOU THOUGHT IT WOULD BE CLEVER AND WITTY TO DENIGRATE AN ENTIRE RACE OF PEOPLE, WHOM YOU CLEARLY DISLIKE, EVEN THOUGH YOU HAVE NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER ASIDE FROM YOUR PREJUDICIAL VIEWPOINT ON WHICH TO MAKE THAT CLAIM!

    Is that clear enough?

    Since I called you out in my first post you have added nothing to the argument aside from snide personal remarks and attempts to question my ability to pass judgement on your comment.

    Sorry my friend, but please take your RACIST and PREJUDICED self, along with your smug but misplaced views of moralistic superiority, elsewhere.

    Now if it makes you feel better, petal, feel free to respond with more snide remarks and attempts to justify the unsubstantiated conclusion that you leapt to, but be aware that I will not be following up. I’ve already broken my promise not to respond to further ignorance from you. I actually have a life and have better things to do than continue in fruitless debate with, as I have already said, the willfully ignorant.

    However, I think you owe the vast majority of the citizens of mainland China a grovelling apology.

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