I have been spoilt.

Here is the Club Lounge at Auckland Airport for the airline we flew on. Mark is a member of this club which means we can visit it (and others like it around the globe) whenever we are flying with them (I won’t mention the airline as we don’t like them anymore). You also get to visit the club if you fly business class, which we did for the Australia to New Zealand part of the journey. We also flew business class return the last time we went to NZ.

This means that I have grown to love the club lounge.

You go to the club lounge after you have passed through passport controls and luggage and security etc. It’s the last thing you do before you actually go to the gate to board. We like to get there early so that we have a bit of time to relax before the flight. There is an open bar where you go and fix yourself a drink – I’ll usually have a gin and tonic (and later perhaps a glass of wine) and Mark will have a champagne. They have a buffet with nibbly things like cheese, fruit, soup, bread, cold meats. They then bring in some hot finger food. They have magazines and a big TV. There is also a business centre where you just go and can use the photocopier, computers etc. There is also wireless if you have your own laptop. There is a screen that tells you when your flight is boarding. They play nice muzac. When it’s time to board the flight they will call you and then you make your way to the gate lounge with the rest of the passengers. The club lounge is great if you are travelling business class – it gives you a chance to acclimatise to the service you are going to get on the plane – drinks on request, nice food, roomy seats.

Unfortunately it is a bit rougher if you go from the club lounge to ecomony, which is what we did on the way back.  You have just gotten yourself in the mood for a nice journey when all of a sudden your personal space has been reduced to zero, the seats are cramped (they fit three people in economy where there would just be two seats in business class), the food tepid, and there are – gasp- screaming children and people with bags and bags of duty free that can’t fit in the overhead storage. A person to toilet ratio of 50:1 rather than 8:1 is also a bit of a shock. Look – I did tell you at the start of this post that I have been spoilt.

It was a bit of a wake up call for our trip at the end of the year. The thought of squeezing into economy for a 24 hour flight, even if my diet means I will be a little smaller by then, is not something to look forward to. We were worried. We tried to convince each other that it would be OK, that it would be a necessary sacrifice to get to our location. We tried to convince ourselves that an aisle seat would be an improvement, that I would be able to get a stretch my (bad) back. We tried to convince ourselves that there wasn’t any alternative.

Come December 8 we will be flying Thai Airways return to London – business class. I wonder what their club lounge looks like?