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Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Fasten Your Seat Belts

In First/Business Class,You Also Get the Free Air Bag
By Richard Carreño
[WritersClearinghouse News Service]
Yes, in a jetliner that is. If you're flying business or first class to and from Europe, chances are, when you buckle in, that your seat belt will be equipped with a air bag. Who knew?

I've been flying business/first for more than a year. About one round-trip a month to Europe, and I just -- just! -- noticed that my seat belt had that extra goodie. Actually, it was even my powers of observation that drew my attention to the air bag notice. It was a New Yorker article I happened to be reading last week whilst en route to Paris.

The article explained that extra safety device is 'up front' because pod seating arrangements in first/business class provide are so luxuriant and spacious that, without the air bags, passengers would be rolled and battered about in their consoles during severe weather conditions or an accident. Ironically, seating in coach may be inherently safer because, as article explained, the tight fit actually provides an extra margin of protection from being thrown about in the event of a fast descent or crash.


The important thing is that all passengers should wear their seat belts at all times -- even when the seat belt light is switched off.

Does putative extra safety in coach warrant sitting there? Hardly.

The point -- the only point -- in sitting up front is comfort. Forget the status it allegedly confers. In fact, most up-fronters are travelling on someone else's dime (their employers), because of a upgrade (thanks to loyalty mileage programmes), or because they're non-revenue travellers like me.

Travelling up-front for the first time? Here's a tip:

Don't get horizontal in your flat-bed seat immediately. It's a sure sign of an amateur. You'll need to be upright for take off.

Some other tips apply to all classes of service.

Remove your shoes. Don a extra pair of socks if you're in coach. You'll get a free pair up front. Never walk in your own socks -- worse, barefoot. The decks are filthy, especially in heavily-used toilet areas in coach.

Drink water, or soft drinks. In other words, avoid alcohol. You get some free in coach. It's unlimited, at no cost, up front. Don't succumb to the temptation. (Real easy for someone like me since I've been alcohol free for almost five years).

Walk as much as you can -- in reason. Easier in first/business. Aisles can get crowded in coach, especially around rest-rooms.

Enjoy the individualised entertainment systems now, for the most part, installed in the backs of seats ahead of you. They're getting more sophisticated with more options all the time. The New Yorker article reported that the new systems can run to to $10,000 each. Again, up front you get more. I recently saw Francois Truffaut's 1972 Day for Night. What, classic foreign films are showing up on aeroplanes?

Still wondering about springing $9,676, what my round trip up front to Paris would have cost retail? Consider the air. It's fresher if you're in 1B.

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