In contrast to their early 20thcentury forefathers and mothers, today’s premium travellers are so bitterly disappointing. You only have to survey the business class lounge at any airport these days to see what I mean.
The BA Club lounge at Terminal 5 should be the very epicentre of glamour. An exclusive champagne-soaked rendezvous at the intersection of the world. Packed to the Gucci drawstring with travellers passing through on their way to New York or LA, transiting from the Far East en route to one of the great cities of continental Europe or just heading off to the West Indies for some winter sun. What the 1950s referred to as the ‘Jet Set’ are all assembled in one place, sipping martinis and musing on whether the Ayurvedic spa at the Four Seasons will be open on arrival, while waiting for their voyages across the globe to resume.
Could there be a more glamorous sight? Yes, there most definitely could. In fact this is where the illusion screeches to a halt at the end of the runway. I’ve seen more sophistication in the plumbing aisle at B&Q. One scan of the lounge and you see why Primark are so prosperous. Can someone tell me what is it about travel that requires people to go forth as an ambassador for their company and country, in clothes that only escaped landfill thanks to the River Island clearance sale? Here are well-remunerated professionals choosing to fly Upper Class in Orvis zip offs. For those who don’t know, these are trousers that cleverly convert to shorts at the pull of a zip. Clever, that is, if you are heading up the Amazon; not so clever if you’re off to an accounting conference in Milan.
And another thing, why is it that grown men on the way to an ‘offsite’ in Hong Kong feel the need to take a Superdry rucksack as hand luggage? Is this some sort of self-hypnotherapy to make them believe that they are off on a trek across the Andes? Guys, if you have to indulge in this boy scout fantasy, please can you remember that you have your day pack on your back, when you swing round in the inter-satellite transit. When was the last time you saw someone swing their Luis Vuitton valise at someone like that?
Can someone also tell these people that most quality airlines now provide pyjamas to don for bed in the sky? There is no need to arrive at the airport already in your nightwear. In fact, the pyjamas you get on board are almost definitely going to be more stylish than ‘sweats’ from The Gap.
At this point you’re probably thinking that I’m an intolerable snob. I’m not. You see, I’m just assuming that, as these people are travelling at the pointy end of the plane, that they have the means to dress well. Of course style need not cost anything, I suppose it must be their intention to disguise themselves as someone who has just crawled up an embankment after a derailment. Where are Cary Grant and Grace Kelly when you need them?