Flying business class in not our norm. We often scour the internet for budget flights and have been known to take a few red-eye trips to save some cash. So, can you imagine our surprise when we were handed our boarding passes and found the word “BUSINESS” printed in bold above our names? We thought there must’ve been a glitch in the matrix but we decided not to utter a word until we landed.
In the meantime, our sari-clad flight attendants greeted us on-board and ushered us to broad cushioned seats with an offer of assorted fruit juices before takeoff. We received fragrant, steaming, white washcloths to clean our hands before receiving a printed menu. It was now clear why flight attendants guard the curtain between flight classes so vigilantly. Our experience was enviable.
Urbndervish succumbed to sleep at nearly midnight, but Lil’ Z and I stayed up for the show. What else did our Sri Lankan hosts have in store for us? We were eager to find out. Lil’ Z was addressed warmly by our stewardesses and received a coloring activity book, colored pencils, as well as extra offers of juice and dessert. A small dish of roasted cashews preceded our pre-ordered vegetarian meal.
During our meal, we were invited to select the bread of our choice from a basket of assorted hot rolls. After the frequent offers of juice, water, and tea, Lil’ Z and I finally fell asleep. She usually lays across our laps in economy class but in business class, she could comfortably curl up in her own seat, as could I. Our four-hour flight passed quickly and we were soon in Colombo waiting for our next flight. In the two-hour layover we took turns offering our early morning prayers in the designated spaces while Lil’ Z slept on either of us. By the time our second flight began to board, the little one was up and ready to eat. Fortunately, our blessing had not yet expired and we enjoyed another round of business class hospitality. We enjoyed a spicy Indian breakfast, colored with Lil’ Z and caught up on the latest film titles.
On our return flight, we were still enjoying the prime seats of the plane but found an additional surprise at check-in. As it approached lunch time, we scrambled to piece together a combination of our remaining Singaporean dollars, Malaysian ringgit, and Indonesian rupiah to buy a snack for a hungry little girl. Our previous flight had been a budget airline, where they barely spared our daughter a paper cup of water. We planned to find something quick and cheap like a Chinese bao bun filled with sweet red beans, but instead received an invitation for lunch in the airport lounge. The plot was getting thicker. The added cost of flying business class affords passengers privacy and comfort not only on the plane but in the airports too. We were beside ourselves.
At the Dnata lounge of Singapore’s Changi Airport, the dining room feels more like a living room with flat screen TVs and couches centered around small coffee tables. The lounge is definitely not intended for families, but we made ourselves comfortable anyway. Lil’ Z enjoyed the space to roam and roll before sitting to enjoy Minestrone soup with rice for lunch. The vegan options were lacking but I paired some party nuts with Asian sautéed veggies and pasta to make a well-rounded meal. Before we knew it, our next flight was boarding, so we made a quick dash to pray our afternoon prayers and darted to the gate. Again, we experienced the same great hospitality consistently on every leg of our itinerary.
In Colombo, we were invited to the airport lounge and watched the sun set over Sri Lanka before boarding our next flight. After our evening prayers and boarding our last flight, we were done for the night. We were ready to turn in and had to turn down the offer for our last meal. Lil’ Z requested a meal but found herself too sleepy to eat it.
All in all, flying business class was fun but not one to get used to on your own expense. Other than the generosity of the Most Generous, we’ve theorized that this surprise upgrade might be linked to some feedback I gave a partner airline, Etihad Airways. They were very apologetic in their response to my concern about their decline in service. As a goodwill gesture, they offered us free reward miles, and, if our suspicion is correct, might’ve had a hand in our first family flight in business class. So, thank you SriLankan Airlines and Etihad Airways for a safe and enjoyable flight experience!