Thanks to the good offices of Bob we were upgraded to first class but I can’t say I was overly impressed. BA is over categorised: first, premium, club world, world traveller and standard. I was told that first class provided a 6 foot bed with a hostess each side which no doubt was behind Bob’s request for an upgrade!!! He did not exactly get a slender, willowy blonde like Polly but a squat hostess pushing sixty which amused me. You do have more space but unless you are in a middle aisle the bed, which is a fully reclining chair plus footstool, is at an angle. The tasting menu of scallop, consommé, kingclip, beef and chocolate pot was served on fresh linen and not in those dreadful cellophane-wrapped containers but I wouldn’t call it sensational.
The problem for BA – or any airline – offering luxury is that they do it control those parts of airport travel, that can be stressful e.g. queuing up at passport control and transfer to the airport. I must have walked half a mile from the domestic to the international terminal at Johannesburg. The other problem that an airline cannot really control is who you sit next to. On the first leg from Cape Town to Joburg we hit a thunderstorm and the plane took a buffeting . I had an Anerican wise guy in my row who gave us the benefit of his aviation knowledge to guide us to landing .
At Jobug the flight was delayed by 90 minutes to remove a passenger whose documentation was not in order. As we queued up for 20 minutes at immigration and then our passports were rechecked at the gate it beggars belief that anyone can get on without adequate papers. At least this flight we had our own loos. I enjoyed catching up on a few films I missed ( “99 Homes” and “45 Years” but the best in flight entertainment was a radio recording of Decline and Fall with John Sessions as Captain Grimes. I must have read this last at school and I quite forgot how funny it is though Waugh is a dreadful snob.
So now we are back in grey cold Britain. I shall miss the beauty of the Cape. I was impressed by its tourist industry but the country’s economy has drought and weak rand to contend with as well as the volatility of the economies of the emerging markets, low prices of commodities and the weak mining sector. Yet I feel confident for South Africa. The much-feared bloodbath never came and whilst, harmony may be too strong a word, there is a coexistence between black and white.