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Premium Economy is an Oxymoron

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I fly economy. I am neither proud nor dismayed by this fact. It is the way of the world: your finances dictate where you sit on a plane. That said, once there strap in and enjoy the discomfort! The old turn of phrase, the body is thy temple, no longer applies. Instead the simile, packed in like sardines, sounds more applicable.

It starts with boarding. The first class passengers emerge through hidden doors, leaving the comfort of the airport lounge, where free wifi was at their whim and showers their disposal. Like animals leaving hibernation, they totter to the gate, stretching and yawing. Yet, here in the wild jungle of departure gates, they are vulnerable, and must be hastily boarded onto the plane. Like all the rare creatures of this world, they only allow us a fleeting glance.

It is now time to board: group D, all remaining passengers or the 'world traveler,' each of these being a derivative of 'peasant.' However, World Traveler does carry more generous connotations: wasn't Amelia Earhart a world traveler? You soon remember it refers to cold bread rolls, cramp and a thumping headache. "Have a good flight sir," a meek gesture given to all world travelers, as we are pointed right upon embarking.

Before you reach your seat, you are to pass through the most dreaded of all sections, the 'premium economy.' This cabin is full of imposters: those on the cusp of affording extra legroom in life, yet who fail so tragically. It is their look of utter self-importance that grates on those who must walk beyond them. Let them recline that extra inch, enjoy a glass of champagne and draw the curtain that separates us from them. Laugh because you know premium economy is nothing more than an oxymoron.

The next cabin, I call home. I appreciate there is a strong chance I will disembark the aircraft on an empty stomach and nurse the aches and pains of a world traveler. Yet I am relieved to be here. An unwritten code exists amongst us economy-goers, a deeply profound sense of admiration. I find my seat, an isle one thankfully, and attach my belt. When at cruising altitude I can recline my seat ten degrees, a pleasure which soon dies when the individual in front of you does likewise.

Falling asleep will prove your nemesis on this flight, as it always is. The seat is the least of your worries, if you can survive the waft of toilet stench being carried through the cabin by toilet users, the screams of a baby unable to handle the cabin pressure or simply the act of turbulence, you stand a good chance of succeeding. Feed yourself in between sporadic periods of sleep. Gorge on the bread rolls, and be sure to take your neighbours if they elect not to. Go to the bathroom at least twice, and strike conversation with all those who appear willing. Here you will find friend, not foe.

Sure, it would be nice to turn left when I board a plane and give myself more legroom. But only economy can give you that sense of having travelled. Jabbed by turbulence and uppercut by jet lag when you land. The term world traveler suits me just fine.