When I was younger and traveled far less frequently, whether it was for work or vacation, it was never about the journey. It was always about the destination. I paid as little as I could for what were probably the worst flights and the worst (unassigned) seats, and one time, my cheap plane ticket to Singapore required me to lay over in Beijing for over nine hours. There’s oftentimes a cost to being cheap when traveling, and in this case, it was probably my sanity, not to mention the fact that in the Beijing airport in March, they didn’t turn on the heat despite the fact that it was freezing in the terminal I was in. So, that was all fun and games. At least I had two friends to freeze together with me.
Chris, being the son of avid and frequent travelers, made fun of me then for my un-reserved-in-advance seats, my “pleb” airlines (I few Air China once – never, ever again), and my hostel stays. Once upon a time, I didn’t understand or want loyalty to an airline or hotel chain because I didn’t see the value in it. My thought was – I’m not going to said city to enjoy the hotel; that’s just the place I’ll be sleeping and showering. I’m also not going to Malaysia for the actual flight; the flight is just the method to get there. But now, having been loyal for years and seeing the benefits reaped, I think this is the best way for a frequent traveler to go.
Airplane food sucks – if you fly economy, or if you fly a U.S. airline. It is amazing when you fly premium economy or above, where you can get gorgeous bento-box-like presentations of Japanese deliciacies, like fried soft-shelled crab and salmon and salmon roe rice balls, or miso soup that tastes exponentially better than your standard, generic Japanese takeout. On Qantas, even in economy, though, the food is good. You can get mango Weis bars (the best fruit-cream frozen dessert bars in the world), Varlhona chocolates, and basically whatever wine or spirit you want as often as you want it. And you always get real tableware. Nothing comes in a disgusting TV-dinner-like setup.
Now, it’s about the journey and the destination. I still don’t love sitting for 14 hours on a plane to get to Asia or Australia, but I do love the Dreamliner windows, the food and dessert, and the lay-flat bed seats when I have them.