Reader Ivan Y asked an interesting question in the comments section of my Korean Air first class trip report between Tokyo Narita and Seoul Incheon:
@ Lucky – would you say that an under-appreciated part of your job is that you can’t just board a plane and go to sleep but must stay awake for the meal service(s) and document everything else?
I’ve tried to imitate you and document my last trip (at friends & family’s request) but it wasn’t easy, especially on flights after crossing the Atlantic. Ended up falling asleep while waiting for food on ORD-IAH (UA F) and FAs didn’t wake me up even though I placed my order. Woke up with 40-45 minutes to go & it was too late to get anything, so had a bag peanuts/crackers/whatever to show for my UA flight which didn’t significantly improve my outlook on them (DirecTV was nice thou).
Now let me start by saying I’m ridiculously fortunate to be able to do what I love for a living. So while my “job” has its pros and cons, on the whole I don’t think there’s anything under-appreciated about it. So no violins for me… not even the world’s smallest violin. 😉
In the past I’ve received several messages from people saying that they finally wrote their first trip report and were amazed by how much work it was. Yes, it’s incredibly time consuming to write a trip report, between taking the pictures, resizing them, uploading them, writing text and captions, etc. But for me it’s not really a lot of “work,” it’s just a lot of time consuming fun. I wrote trip reports long before I ever made a dime from this blog, and I’ll write them long after I make my last dime as well!
I’ve flown over three million “butt in seat” miles, and I’ll be the first to say that after flying that much the fun of premium cabin travel as such does wear off a bit. I’m not as giddy as I was the first time I flew international first class, though at the same time that’s kind of a good thing. Why? Because I can actually sleep the night before I take a big trip nowadays, rather than tossing and turning out of excitement for hours on end. And for that matter I can actually bring myself to sleep on planes, because at the end of the day the ability to do that well is one of the greatest things about international first class. Back when I first flew international first class I was so excited that I refused to sleep because I was afraid I’d “miss something.” Nowadays I’m happy if I can sleep the whole time between the meals.
But that doesn’t really address Ivan’s question, so I figured I would share the few areas of the trip report process that I do consider challenging:
The first 30 minutes on the plane
So the only aspect of writing a trip report that gets me a little bit stressed is the first 30 minutes on a plane when I’m flying an airline or airplane for the first time. Many times I only have one segment on a new airline or airplane, so I have to make it work. If it’s an airline like Lufthansa or Cathay Pacific that I’ve flown dozens of times before, cabin pictures aren’t as important.
The challenge really is trying to be as subtle as you can about taking as many pictures as possible. I do whatever I can to be among the first aboard so that I can get mostly empty cabin pictures. And yes, unfortunately at times that means I’m the douchewaffle that’s lined up on the carpet well before boarding starts. Really, if I can get the first class cabin to myself for a minute I’m golden in terms of pictures, I think.
China Southern A380 first class cabin
Korean Air A380 first class cabin
Similarly, even once I settle in I do what I can to get as many pictures of the seat features as I can. That’s because the cabin is usually still lit up during boarding, while it could be dimmed after takeoff, so it’s tougher to get good pictures then.
Yes, I occasionally get evil glares from flight attendants…
I’m not hungry…
A couple of months ago I had a long layover at the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse in New York. I had such an enjoyable and relaxing time. The first five hours of the layover were enjoyable, while the last three hours were relaxing, in that I passed the hell out and napped.
Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse New York
Funny enough I don’t really drink when I’m not flying. When I am flying, though, all bets are off. So I was awoken during the final boarding call and ran for the flight. My Virgin Atlantic flight from New York to London was under six hours and I wanted to sleep more than anything. I really, really did, because I was not feeling well, to put it mildly.
But I’d be letting you guys down big time if the extent of my report was “we took off, I slept, we landed. The end.” I’ve disappointed you guys once before with my Emirates flight from Singapore to Dubai where I had a little bit too much Hennessy Paradis, to the point that it interfered with my shower.
But I stayed up and took one for the team, I guess. I only had a bite of each dish, but suffice to say that with each course it was the most painful bite I’ve had!
Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Thai vegetable curry main course
I’m just tired!
I think I’m one of the few bloggers that sometimes actually flies exclusively to review new airline products. So it’s not unusual for me to fly around the world in 72 hours with four longhaul flights. As you’d expect, by the second or third flight airplane food sounds really unappetizing and sleep sounds awesome.
Admittedly I don’t eat everything I’m served on a plane. Sometimes I’ll have a little bit just to try it. But if I’m flying an airline for the first time I really do want to be able to review and take pictures of as many of their offerings as possible.
I’m incredibly fortunate and I love what I do. But since Ivan asked, I answered. If I had to say there were “challenges” associated with reviewing airline products, it’s trying to capture the cabin in “mint” condition before everyone boards, and ultimately not necessarily being able to eat or sleep when you want.
To those of you that write trip reports, what do you consider to be the most “challenging” aspect of them?