Tuesday, January 22, 2013

WT - Platinum status!

So back in the entry "World Traveler" I detailed out how I was getting extra pages for my passport so I could accommodate for the amount of time I had left in my passport plus the amount of traveling I had planned/expected given that time. This, therefore made me a World Traveler (WT).

I take back that definition in order to revise it. In the span of the last few weeks, I have become something I never thought I would...I have become...an elite traveler. That higher echelon of snobby traveler that gets to do things like cut lines, get better food, have comfier seats. Get free booze.

That's right people, I've been promoted to platinum status. Plah-ih-num!

It's ridiculous to think how much money I've likely thrown into the system in order to get this honor, luckily much of that money was not my own (i.e. company money), but still. I've made that major milestone. I've made the 100,000 mile mark. I now get things like free upgrades to business class and free trips to the lounges where there is free booze and food. And I can bring guests. O_O

WT, yes I am.

Anyway, my first week as an official WT started when I was in Berlin. I got the email saying I'd been upgraded to platinum status and smiled but thought nothing more. When I went to the airport to fly back to Helsinki, boy was I in for an awesome surprise.

Going to the checkout counter to get my boarding pass I was informed that I could use the lounge. "Oh?" "Yes definitely ma'am." "Well, hot damn." (I didn't say this last part, but I was definitely thinking it).

Being not super familiar with Berlin's airport however, I was soon lost (oddly the lounge is not something they advertise on the signage) and was standing around looking like a dope when a very nice man came up behind me and asked if I was looking for the lounge. I said I was and he said he was going there as well, so I should follow him.

We got into a conversation about what we did for work (he supplies pressurized pump systems to various companies and governments the world over, including being the biggest supplier to the US government and the Saudi Arabian government) and continued to shmooze and talk about various things until I had to leave to board my plane.

During our conversation I had some time to stare around the place. I was surrounded by rich executive types, business men of varying ages, and the occasional family. To no one's surprise I was the only young person (closest person to my age was probably in their early to mid 30's) in the room and to no shock at all I was the only woman I could see. Baller.

But enough about the demographics of the place, let's talk about the perks! Open bar with a wide selection of hard alcohols were at your disposal, so you could mix your own drinks as you desired. There were about 12 different wines that you could select from and pour yourself a glass. Snacks, fruit, and other foods were also available. Extremely comfortable easy chairs and couches were scattered around and there were outlets and free wi-fi aplenty. The business traveler's dream.

Oh yes, I could get used to this.

It occurred to me halfway through my conversation with the pressure pump guy that I was likely rubbing shoulders with executives from larger companies from all over the place (as well as some normal plain joes like myself who just travel a lot). The thought was a bit thrilling...not gonna lie.

This was my first peek into being a WT on platinum benefits. The best was still yet to come.

On a trip back to the States a few days later, I was surprised with the most flattering benefit of all: the free upgrade to business class.

I've only been in business class one other time in my life. As a small child my dad was also a platinum traveler. Having worked for a company similar to my own, he traveled a lot for business and went to many places to do various business things. We got postcards from him detailing out the wonderful sights there were to see and he always brought back rocks (or later, small pieces of jewelry) for us. Anyhoo, on one of our family trips, my sister and I were mysteriously upgraded to business class. Little did I know that my dad had upgraded us using his points - as a completely ignorant child I foolishly assumed that the airlines had granted us this pleasure simply out of luck/the kindness of their hearts. My sister and I were thrilled. We had the grandest time ever sitting in the plush seats and playing with all of the accouterments of business class. I'm sure we annoyed the crap out of the people sitting around us, but we had the best time ever.

Anyway, that was my one other experience in business class. And this was just as a good, though just as mystifying. Not only was I upgraded to business class, I was requested to sit in the admiral's lounge before we started boarding. I remarked that we only had 10 minutes before we were to start boarding, in which the woman at the desk said, "yes, but you could go downstairs, have a coffee, then come back up again." To which I replied okay, made my way down, used the very nice facilities, then came back up to claim my business class spot.

First impressions: this seat is a lazy boy that someone has planted on a plane. But it does more, so much much more. Like it's motorized to lay in any position you desire, like one of those weird hospital beds. But instead of feeling like an invalid who needs special help, you feel privileged:

The only thing it doesn't do is heat and massage you. It's okay, I forgive them. They have to keep something for first class, after all. ;)

One thing that everyone comments on, so I feel the need to point out, is that it allows you to completely stretch out your legs straight, and therefore, lay completely flat. Yes that's right, you can be completely horizontal in these chairs. Assuming of course, there is no baggage blocking your footrest's way. But why would you have any baggage blocking your footrest when you have your own overhead compartment?

Huh, yeah.

Another thing that business class affords you is much fancier food. They actually feed and ply you with drink ALL THE TIME. No wonder people in business class are noticeably fatter than those in coach. They literally give you more food and food more frequently. Plus the quality of food is much better. And they let you choose your food. From a printed menu. Yes, that's right. You choose your courses of food. Courses. Of food. Courses.

You want which appetizer? With which course? With which wine? Did you want orange juice, fizzy water, still water, or orange juice before we take off? Would you like the warm nuts before your appetizer of choice? Btw, if you're still hungry after the dinner and breakfast that they serve (or any time inbetween any of their multiple services or drink offers) there is food that you can help yourself to at the front of the business class section that is free to take. There is a constant selection of fresh fruit, gourmet cheeses, snack mixes, etc for you to take from.

Jeebus crust. Fat fat fat.

And the last amazing overindulgent straw? The entertainment experience.

When I first sat down I looked around my armchair for the built-in entertainment. When I couldn't find it I thought to myself, "my god, do they really make you watch the in-flight movie with the rest of the plane?" Yeah, I know, first world problems (#firstworldproblems). But after they served the first round of champagne/orange juice/water with or without bubbles, they rolled out a different set of carts. Carts with tablets. And headphones.

That's right. They passed out individual Samsung Galaxy 10.1 tablets with Bose noise-canceling headsets. For each individual passenger. They even had individual charger ports and sets for each tablet.

Uh, yeah. And each tablet had a vast selection of movies, tv shows, music, etc. It was, in fact, ridiculous.

So I indulged. I completely indulged. I happily watched several movies in a row while eating all of my courses. I even chose the ice cream sundae (with fresh berries) over the gourmet cheese plate for dessert, I was so far removed from my norm. The middle-aged French gentleman next to me still chose the cheese plate, but soon after he fell asleep watching the movie Bachelorette, snoring rather loudly (not that I could hear it, since I was wearing the awesome headset).

Business class really doesn't disappoint. It really doesn't. It does make me wonder what first class is like though, if business class is already like this. Is everything dipped in gold and diamonds? Are there ass warmers that constantly massage you so you have no circulatory problems? I've seen the compartment dividers so you can ignore your neighbors. Is there a gym so you can exercise while you're in the air? An alternate reality room so you can imagine you're somewhere else? Free illegal drugs? A casino where you can party and gamble while you fly? What else could they possibly do to make your stay on a plane more luxurious?

I can only imagine. If I keep at my current rate of travel though (flying every 5 days or so), then I'll soon find out. I wonder what you reach after platinum. Lutetium traveler? I could live with that.

I look forward to the day when I can get lutetium traveler benefits. Boy what a world traveler I would be then. O_O

Until then, I'll happily appreciate my platinum traveler status.

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