Justine Tyerman is reluctant to disembark after being pampered on a Swiss International Air Lines long-haul flight . . .
The sweetest words you will ever hear before a 13-hour flight . . . “Madam,” in that sexy European voice, “you have been upgraded to business class.”
I utter ‘woohoo’ under my breath and sidle surreptitiously to seat 10D, praying a Zurich businessman bound for Singapore does not arrive at the gate late for his flight and swoop in on my precious seat.
Flight attendant Silvia Bodmer beams at me and offers me a choice of three wines on a silver platter, OK, it’s a tray. I choose the bubbly – it suits my mood. She takes my jacket and hangs it away somewhere safe.
I observe the cabin crew on the Swiss International Air Lines flight – they are trim, elegant women in their 40s and 50s, true professionals, smartly attired in suits and waistcoats, no trolley-dollies here.
I settle back on the huge A340-300, and experiment with the functions on my seat console – lumber support, lower back massage, 101 different positions of legs, back and head.
I’m a high-altitude geography nut so I love a window seat. I’m mid-ships on this flight, sans view, but it’s a night flight so I have no complaints.
As we taxi and take off smoothly and on time, of course – this is a Swiss International Air Lines plane departing from a Swiss Airport so everything is super-efficient – I investigate my useful business class pack with socks, eye mask, toothbrush/paste, ear plugs and toiletries.
Then the impressive business class menu arrives.
“What would Madam care to order?” asks sweet Silvia.
“Perhaps the venison carpaccio followed by Swiss corn-fed chicken with cherry chutney, white polenta and runner beans designed by our guest chef Siegfried Rossal of the Hotel Seerose in Aargau?”
“Yes, that will do nicely, thank you.”
I have a conversation with the charming German suited one beside me – he wants to know about New Zealand’s Great Walks and I quiz him about Angela Merkel . . .
The discussion traverses professional, political, personal, aspirational . . . it’s amazing what territory two strangers can cover at such heady heights.
Here comes the lovely Silvia with dinner and more drinks.
Another bubbly for Mrs Tyerman?
She knows my name.
“A glass of award-winning French Duval-Leroy-Vertus from Champagne peut-être?” It’s far too late for bubbles but I’ve lost all track of time as I am plied with fine cuisine and exceptional personal service.
An hour later: “Would Mrs Tyerman like another glass of that French champagne with the gingerbread panna cotta?”
Nein danke, you will have to carry me off the plane if I do.
I gather that is not part of the service provided.
But the Swiss chocolates are just too tempting to resist – two or three of them leap out of the box and on to my plate.
I get half way through an excellent movie, The Immigrant, starring a mesmerising Marion Cotillard and Joaquin Phoenix but the moment my legs and feet are elevated, it sends a message to the brain and delicious waves of sleep begin to overwhelm me.
I give in, achieve horizontal in less than 10 seconds, snuggle under my soft blanket and lie my head on a pillow like a puffy cloud. I play with my console and discover I can also change the consistency of the “bed” from firm to soft and squishy. Bliss!
The choices are endless and threaten to use up valuable sleep time.
The other wonderful thing about lying flat out is that your mouth doesn’t hang embarrassingly ajar when you fall asleep, thereby alleviating the temptation to use your eye-mask to secure the jaw in the shut position.
Ahh, sleep perchance to dream . . .
Seven hours later, here’s Silvia again, as bright as a button, serving me a breakfast of fresh fruit, muesli, cheese, cold meats, French bread, warm croissant and Nespresso.
All too soon, it’s time to land, my jacket is delivered back to me along with a special Swiss International Air Lines business class kit as a keepsake. Seldom in my hectic life do I ever have no option but to be idle – to rest, relax, read, converse, eat, drink, sleep and be entertained and waited upon, guilt-free for 13 hours. I don’t want to leave.
I disembark so fresh and chirpy, my family are astounded.
“Good flight?” they ask. “Yes, busy though, I’ve been flat-out,” I reply.
Justine Tyerman travelled courtesy of Switzerland Tourism and Swiss International Air Lines.