Flying Cattle Class

Let’s be honest, most people have to endure cattle class at one point in their life but there are some airlines that are making it that little bit nicer, meaning travel is that little bit easier and some that are well … not making it nicer.

I recently traveled to London and flew two different airlines each way, American Airlines and British Airways and boy was I surprised.

My high expectations for one airline were completely misguided and my low expectations for the other were blown away.

I am all about the research, so before any flight I am always on SeatGuru and forums investigating about which aircraft I would be whisking off on. Who has the best meals? What is the best seat? From past experiences and research, I was convinced my AA flight would be mediocre at best and the British aircraft would be brand spanking new. But sometimes you just don’t know the fact of the matter until you make it to seat 34A.

One thing most business travellers revel in, is fact they can lay down, but economy is not the place to do this, unless you are lucky enough to get a whole row to yourself. In terms of legroom and space, both airlines seem similar. I am sure one of them has two inches more here or there but really, unless I whip out my measuring tape, I really can’t tell the difference. Then again, I’m not one of those model types, you know… tall! It’s usually the rude, space hogger next to me that makes me feel cramped.

The biggest point of difference for me was the entertainment consoles between American and British. The Americans won this battle (are we really surprised?). The screen was large enough that made watching a movie feel normal. Unfortunately, the Brits didn’t live up to the same standard, with their screens that were something from back in the day when I used to play on a black and white GameBoy.

My favorite and maybe most important aspect on a flight is the consideration airlines have taken with onboard technology. Some airlines now have power outlets or a USB port at the very least at every main cabin seat. These days I find it incredibly important to have these amenities on while airborne. After nine hours listening to music, my phone is going to be dead and I am going to be stuck in a foreign place without a map. Gee what did we do before phones?

Luckily American airlines made my wish their command and provided me with both a power outlet and a USB port. Unfortunately, my pals from across the pond were not as generous.

My expectations on each airline were completely turned on their heads. I will definitely think twice before blowing off American Airlines again when booking my next international flight.

And sure, flying economy isn’t as glamorous as business or first, so just put on an eye mask and ear plugs and imagine that flat lay bed. Well maybe don’t imagine the bed, but the mask helps.

But, the truth is, some of us common folk have to fly cattle class here and there, so you may as well know the facts.

Steph_profHerstory is a weekly column on women and travel by Steph Ridhalgh. Steph is a Sydney born; New York based television producer and travel blogger. Not one for being quiet for too long she simply loves talking about travel and lifestyle.

Steph is the founder of STEP(h) ABROAD, a travel and lifestyle resource for those who love to be in the know and know how.

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