When Liam and I got hitched we asked for Thomas Cook vouchers as wedding gifts. We had already made the fateful (or was it fatal?) decision to migrate to Asia Minor and didn’t need a brown Kenwood toaster with a cornflower motif. Nor did we want his and his John Lewis bath robes. Since then we’ve slowly used up most of the vouchers for our Blighty flights but the process was becoming a bit of a drag. Vouchers can only be exchanged in Thomas Cook travel shops and these are as rare as ethnic minorities on Midsomer Murders. We decided on a final spree and used what we had left on business class tickets to London via Istanbul with Turkish Airlines.
We could hardly contain our anticipation when we arrived at the domestic terminal at Bodrum Airport. We breezed past the hoi polloi like minor celebs to the business class check-in and onwards to the business class lounge – vile coffee, limitless booze, dry croissants, nobody famous. The flight to Istanbul was pleasant enough with a welcome glass of bubbly and a hot breakfast from a fixed-smile waitress wearing too much tarty slap. Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport was a frenetic potpourri of the exotic and the mundane. The bazaar medley included a mysterious sect of elderly men in Persil-white towelling togas. We fled the bedlam to the utter indulgence and serenity of the business class lounge – vile coffee, limitless booze, dry croissants, nobody famous.
We boarded our Heathrow-bound plane expecting to turn left into unashamed comfy luxury and regal pampering. Our excited smiles crumbled as we were directed right towards our hard standard size seats. There was no more extra leg room than ordinary emergency exit seats and the food was only distinguishable from economy fare by the china crockery. The much vaunted entertainment selection consisted of an obscure disaster movie about a runaway train and an hour of adverts from the flickering mini screen that descended from the bottom of the overhead lockers. I’ve been better diverted on charter. Booze was provided only on request. Worse still, just a thin curtain divided us from the plebs back in coach. The experience left us disenchanted with a wasted wedding gift and lamenting our decision to reject the brown Kenwood toaster with cornflower motif. What an expensive flop.
Nine days later we returned to Heathrow with heavy hearts. We breezed past the hoi polloi like minor celebs to the business class check-in and onwards to the business class lounge – delicious coffee, limitless booze, butter-moist croissants, nobody famous. We boarded our Istanbul-bound plane expecting to turn right into our barely above economy cabin. Our resigned expressions were transformed into crazy grins as we were directed left into unashamed comfy luxury and regal pampering. We sank into our soft capacious seats with sixteen button-operated positions and in-chair massage. The individual screens provided entertainment of boundless possibilities. Spoilt for choice, Liam couldn’t decide so flattened his seat and took a cat-nap instead. The three course supper was haute cuisine and our camp thin-wristed attendant silently filled my glass without prompting as he swished down the aisle. Just the ticket.
Back in Istanbul, we headed to the business class lounge – vile coffee, no croissants, no booze, nobody famous. We boarded a dedicated business class mini-bus to our return flight to Bodrum – glass of bubbly, cold supper, proper crockery. All our flights provided stainless steel mini cutlery. I assume terrorists can’t afford business class.