“Mr and Mrs Strachan, you’ve been upgraded to business class. I hope you enjoy your flight!”
Those have to be amongst the most welcome words a traveller can hear, especially when having just spent 9 hours travelling from Cape Town to Dubai. The thought of spending the next 6 hours in transit to Warsaw suddenly seemed a lot less exhausting.
And believe me, the answer is yes, business class is all it’s cracked up to be – the food was great, the service attentive but not invasive, and the additional seat room was amazing, especially for Craig, who is 6ft2.
But there were a couple of things that I‘ll need to figure out if traveling business class becomes a more regular occurrence for us.
Ironically, one of the positives of business class was something of a challenge to me as a blind passenger. In economy, provided we’re sitting within a few rows of the bathrooms, I can usually make my way there on my own, only needing to bother Craig if he’s sitting in the aisle seat. I simply move my hand from one seat to the next to support me as I walk down the aisle. This isn’t possible in business class – the seats are spread much further apart to allow space for each seat to convert into a bed. That means I can’t reach from one seat to the next.
Another aspect of business class travel that is usually a positive is the increased amount of privacy that the seat design allows each traveller. There is more space between the seats… Okay, there is space between the armrest of the seat on the left and the armrest of the seat on the right, unlike in economy where the armrest of the seat on the left IS the armrest of the seat on the right. On our Emirates flight the privacy was enhanced by the tablet computers that were attached to the armrests between Craig’s seat and mine – one for each of us.
And that made it hard for me to attract Craig’s attention if I wanted to ask him a question or needed his help. And yes, I did figure out how to detach the tablet… but then what? Where could I put it?
I’m not saying either of these detracted from the pleasure of travelling business class, or that either of them would make me hesitate if offered the opportunity of doing so again. It simply means I need to find different ways to overcome those challenges.
Let’s hope I’m given the opportunity to do so soon…
Right now I feel like a child on the night before Christmas – only one more sleep and then Craig and I will be jetting off to Poland on holiday for 2 weeks!
I’m aware that statement probably raises a few questions:
• What does travel offer a blind person?
• And why Poland?
The answer to the second question is very simple: we have extended family who live outside Krakow in Poland
The answer to the first question is a little harder to put into words: It is true that I don’t have the same experience that Craig does when we travel. Sightseeing is a totally different experience without sight. However I am able to gain a remarkably complete experience of new places by using my other senses. I have devoted an entire chapter of my book, A Different Way of Seeing, to how I indulge my love of travel and how I gain the greatest amount possible from it, but you’ll still have to wait a few months before you can read that – but please feel free to ask by commenting on this article if you want to know more about how I travel.
I’m not going to post articles while I’m away but will let you know how I experienced Poland as a blind tourist when I get back… and share some of my photos as well.
Stay well while I am away and I’ll speak to you again soon…
Many of you have asked to hear the speech I gave at PechaKucha on 5 July… so here it is!
I’d love to hear how you top up your positivity tank, so why not take a moment to comment and let me know…
With thanks to Francois Rossouw for shooting the video, and Craig Strachan for adding the slide presentation for the total experience.