I believe that deep down all girls at some point want to be a princess. And while every common girl’s dream that they actually could become one got justified by Kate, I realized early that this princess business looked like too much work for my liking. I decided that once I was a grownup to look for ways to feel like a princess without having to have my hair blown out every day (yes, I know that most girls would consider this a treat, I however don’t). With that in mind I’d treat myself to a glass of champagne at the Ritz in Paris, a massage at the Banyan Tree Spa in the Seychelles, and always two toasted sandwiches from 7Eleven in Thailand. All this was enough to make me feel special without the hairdo and the other princely duties and I was quite content for thirty-something years.

travelettes_emirates_business class flight_thailand_annika ziehen - 20

It was only upon flying to Cape Town in February when I noticed two women dressed in unfortunate pink Juicy Couture sweat pants at the check-in counter. As if their choice of sweat pants wasn’t bad enough I saw them again later on the plane when I had to walk past them on my way to economy, the ladies were flying business class. I’m not sure which stung worse, their color choice of fleece or the fact that they were allowed in business class and me and my effortless, chic black flying outfit wasn’t. It was then when it hit me – there was one crown jewel missing in my un-royal royalty plan: the business class flight.

I don’t know about you, but while I have read numerous posts on how to get upgraded and I have batted my eyelashes at every male flight and check-in attendant there ever was, I have never gotten lucky. I have heard the tales, but I’m starting to believe they might be urban legends, always happening to a friend of a friend of a friend, but never to someone you actually know. So no, I have always been stuck in the back, considering myself fortunate if I got an emergency exit seat and a working TV screen just like everybody else.

travelettes_emirates_business class flight_thailand_annika ziehen - 05

This was all about to change when I got invited by Emirates to fly to Thailand. They were not only flying me with the A380, which I had never been on, they were also flying me business class! Kate couldn’t have been more excited upon getting this giant blue engagement rock than I was when I read the seat numbers on my confirmation email. And just like her, I presume, the first question that popped into my head was What the heck am I going to wear?

If you think that is a tedious question for a flight you might be right. But you try not to care if you are embarking upon the journey of your life; after all I really didn’t want to replicate the Juicy Couture ladies and collect pitying stares from economy class passengers.

Fast forward a few days and I am definitely not getting any pitying looks from my driver who is collecting me and my luggage at home in my carefully selected travel outfit that goes easily from Hamburg winter (= freezing) to Phuket’s summer (= hot and steamy). Being an Emirates’ princess already starts with a limousine pick-up at home and I try my best to glide graciously into the back seat. Needless to say it doesn’t go as smoothly as I have envisioned and my shirt gets caught in the door. Luckily I have fifteen more hours to practice royal etiquette.

I am first on the plane and first with a glass of champagne in hand. Enough time to recline the seat all the way and take some I mean business selfies before any other passengers embark and can realize that I am in fact a business class virgin.

travelettes_emirates_business class flight_thailand_annika ziehen - 21travelettes_emirates_business class flight_thailand_annika ziehen - 14

I feel a bit sorry for my seat neighbor because once we are up in the air I basically bounced up and down in my seat with excitement. A menu! Noise canceling head phones! More champagne! And have I mentioned that my seat reclines all the way? I have never been so excited to go to sleep on a plane, but as it is Valentine’s Day I have dinner and watch a movie first. I don’t mind at all that my date is only on-screen in form of Luke Evans; after all the screen is big enough to make him almost life-size.

The date movie ends in demise and I decide to get some shuteye for a couple of hours. I get a mattress, take my very fluffy pillow, and with one touch of a button I’m fully reclined and for the first time ever on a plane I can finally sleep on my side.

When we arrive in Dubai I’m grumpy, because waking up in the middle of the night, Hamburg time or Dubai time, is never fun. But lucky me gets to be grumpy in the Emirates lounge at least and they have a cappuccino machine and a full on breakfast buffet to tide me over.

travelettes_emirates_business class flight_thailand_annika ziehen - 03travelettes_emirates_business class flight_thailand_annika ziehen - 01travelettes_emirates_business class flight_thailand_annika ziehen - 02

After breakfast I decide to freshen up before the next leg of my flight, because lets face it, at this point in the journey I don’t look very presentable and if a plane was royalty the A380 would be king. Mind you, I didn’t really need a shower after a six-hour flight, but I took one just because I could.

travelettes_emirates_business class flight_thailand_annika ziehen - 06travelettes_emirates_business class flight_thailand_annika ziehen - 04

In my excitement to shower, fluffy towels and all, I make a rookie mistake and I overlook that they also offer spa treatments and blow outs (that’s how Kate does it!). And it doesn’t stop there; while the lounge has direct access to most gates which should make it foolproof, at least in theory, to get to your plane, I manage to get lost. Through the gate I go and in the name of fitness I decide to take the stairs. Next thing I know I am three floors down and in front of a closed door. “Miss, miss, where are you going?”, a staff member calls after me. I mumble something about plane and Thailand, blush and make my way up three flights again to board the elevator with the veteran business class fliers who knew better all along. People stare at me and my red face and I try my best to look nonchalant, but I’m not fooling anybody.

travelettes_emirates_business class flight_thailand_annika ziehen - 08

As soon as I get on the plane I feel lost again, because surely I must have ended up in first class by mistake? There is so much space I am starting to feel blissfully lost; only this time I’m not mistaken, I have just boarded an A380. Here I don’t get a seat I get my own private console with a seat/bed combo, footrest, storage spaces, huge screen, and my own personal minibar which is all mine and of course free.
travelettes_emirates_business class flight_thailand_annika ziehen - 10travelettes_emirates_business class flight_thailand_annika ziehen

I enjoy the privacy of my console to again recline my seat a few times just for fun, spray myself with the Bulgari fragrance provided in my on-flight kit, and spend a long time looking over wine options for lunch. After all I have a wine loving brother and father to report back to and I take that job very serious. Of course I get no work done, except for some Instagrams – hurrah for WiFi in the air – because flight time is movie catch up time. It is also time to eat another three course meal which is served on white linen and china, no plastic or aluminum foil in sight. And with so much space I don’t need to wait for the flight attendant to clear my table before I can sneak into the bar for an after lunch cocktail.

travelettes_emirates_business class flight_thailand_annika ziehen - 15travelettes_emirates_business class flight_thailand_annika ziehen - 12

Yes, that’s right, the bar on the A380 is not an urban Sex and the City legend, it is for real. Unfortunately is isn’t clad with soccer stars nor any other celebrities on my flight, but I still get to drink a fabulous Cosmopolitan mixed by a very lovely bartender. And while I’m usually not one for souvenir photos, I don’t resist too hard when they want to take one of me. Seems like pretending I am not an über-excited tourist for the first time in this flying heaven is evidently not working…

travelettes_emirates_business class flight_thailand_annika ziehen - 17

Six hours pass too fast, another first on a plane, and when we land in Phuket I don’t want to leave. I put on my bravest face, say goodbye to my new best friends the crew, take my panama hat, and disembark. I’m whisked through a special, fast immigration line and am first to get my very un-businesslike backpack.

travelettes_emirates_business class flight_thailand_annika ziehen - 09

An hour later I am in my airport hotel and enjoy the first of many pad thais and Singhas. When I realize that the plane seat was more comfortable than my hotel bed, I know that I have been spoiled for life. And when I travel to Koh Tao and finish my first diving classes, I know that three weeks are simply not enough in Thailand, and so I’m grateful for a ticket that can be changed on a whim to extend my stay.

The days fly by and by mid-March, this time leaving from Bangkok, I find myself back in Dubai where I stay for the night. Why undo weeks of relaxation with a hectic flight schedule when I can spend a night at the wonderful Manzil Downtown view of the Burj Khalifa and Mojitos included. The next morning I feel like Cinderella with the clock approaching midnight fast on my way to the airport. My holiday is really over and there is just a short six hours in a comfy carriage plane to look forward to now before reality has me back. And while I realize that I don’t need glass slippers or champagne to make me truly happy when I get to travel, it is incredible when the journey already feels like part of the destination with an all-inclusive holiday feeling.

travelettes_emirates_business class flight_thailand_annika ziehen - 19

A big thank you to Emirates Airlines for making me feel like a princess, for feeding me bottomless champagne, and for offering so many National Geographic series that I had no chance to miss my diving buddies too much.

This post was written by Annika Ziehen who was a Travelette until 2019. Originally from Germany, Annika has lived in New York and Cape Town and now travels the world full time. She considers herself a very hungry mermaid and writes about her adventures, scuba diving and food on her blog The Midnight Blue Elephant. You can also find her on Instagram here!