01 June 2013

Upgrade!

I flew to Bulgaria using Bulgaria Air last April. Normally, I fly Economy Class, as I personally think that it is worth spending my money on seeing the sights rather than spending it to get a swanky seat in the plane. So for my flight from Berlin to Sofia, I was indeed in Economy. However, coming back, from Sofia to Berlin, I was upgraded to Business Class. I haven't flown on any other seat category aside from Economy, so this was rather interesting (well, there was Economy Plus one time on United, when they again upgraded me for volunteering to stay a day in Tokyo, but that was still Economy pretty much). Now I can erase that from my list of things to do.

I really don't know why they picked me to be upgraded. I already checked in for my flight online the night before, selecting Seat 5A (a window seat). When I got to the airport, I went to the check-in counters again, because I was on holiday and didn't have access to a printer, so I asked to have my boarding pass printed. Again, Seat 5A. I deposited my bag for check-in, and then cleared security, had my passport stamped, changed my money, and hung out at the airport. I was early, so I had 2 hours to kill in Sofia's rather spartan and quiet airport (it felt like Iloilo Airport in the Philippines).

When it was boarding time, I went down to the gates downstairs (we were being bussed to the aircraft). I wasn't on a hurry to board, as everyone will be riding a bus to get to the plane anyway. But when I gave my boarding pass to the counter, they noted the name, and then took a different boarding pass they already printed ahead, and gave the stub to me. I immediately thought, "Oh, don't tell me you're putting me to a different seat? I'd be pissed if you moved me to a middle seat." But no, I checked the stub, and it said my seat was Seat 2F.

2F!

Yep, second row, and in Business Class. Wow. The seat was wide. And the seat pitch was generous. I could even cross my legs and still be comfortable. There were plenty of space.

Oh, have I told you there's a pre-take-off drink? Yeah, there was. There were a total of 8 seats in Business Class, of which 6 were occupied. And we have a dedicated flight attendant. She asked me if I wanted a drink before taking off, so I got some orange juice, on a cup that is actually glass and not plastic.

After take off, she closed the curtains to separate the Economy Class from Business Class. And sure enough, there was meal service. I thought it would be a simple meal, after all, during the flight going to Sofia, all I got was a lanky sandwich, a drink, and a chocolate bar. This time, well, there was a choice between fish and chicken. There was also a salad, some cheese, and the most impressive, warm bread. While the bread was being warmed, the smell started wafting into the cabin. All of this was served using white linen and real silverware.

She asked me what I wanted to drink. I asked if they had white wine (as I decided on the chicken). She said yes, but before serving it to me, she even showed me the bottle and asked if it were okay. It was quite interesting. After I finished my meal and my glass of wine, she asked if I wanted a refill, so sure.

I thought the meal was over, but apparently there's dessert. Once the plates were cleared, she asked if I wanted coffee or tea. I asked for tea, and it came with a puff pastry.

Upon landing, there was a flight attendant that went into the corridor, and I later realized that he was blocking the people from the Economy Class from leaving the aircraft, until all of us passengers in Business Class were able to exit.

Now, I could care less about this social hierarchy in air travel. But I guess some people do. For me, I'd rather just pay Economy and use my money to see places, than to buy a swanky seat. I just find it ironic that I get upgraded, when actually, the reason I flew to Bulgaria that weekend was because they had a Promotion Sale on that flight. I only paid 164.07 BGN, or 83.90 EUR for the round-trip ticket. I bought it during February during a Valentine's Day sale. And yet I got swanky service.

It was fun, and while I appreciate the swanky service, I could do without it. It was quite interesting to see how the system makes it obvious that there is a difference in service between the two classes (pre-departure drink, meals with real silverware, priority exit, etc), yet sometimes, people sitting in Economy are cooler people to hang out with.

2 comments:

  1. Lucky you! This is one of my traveling fantasies ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Zhu,

      I guess it was because the flight was overbooked, and I checked-in early. I heard those who check in early have a higher chances of getting bumped up to a better seat class, but I cannot prove that for sure.

      Delete