It’s fun in the cheap seats

Kirsty Allsop on terra firma at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2011. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Kirsty Allsop on terra firma at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2011. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Who wants to be living it up in club class anyway?

Kirsty Allsop reportedly flies club class at the front of the plane and puts her children in standard class at the back when they go on holiday. This would not be an option for me.

My husband and I once got a free upgrade to legroom on a BA flight from New York but the usual price difference makes sitting with my knees pressed together, eating the complimentary meal of coleslaw, squashed up to a stranger with a weak bladder (or very active love life) who makes me shuffle into the aisle every 30 minutes to let them out to go to the loo, worth the saving.

And you wouldn’t get the in-flight entertainment of watching the flight attendant having to push the drinks trolley back to the start in order to let the stranger with the weak bladder get by.

Then there’s the joy of the unexpected, such as the flight to Rome when a member of the cabin crew popped her head around the curtain and asked me: “Did the pilot just say we’re running out of fuel?”

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As it takes me three gin and tonics to get on an aircraft at all, I immediately tightened my seat belt and assumed the crash position. I am a passenger that gives my full attention to the life jacket and oxygen mask demonstration – every single time. Given the chance, I’d wear both throughout the flight.

Kirsty is quoted as saying: “Club Class should be a huge treat you’ve worked hard for. If kids get used to it, what do they have to work towards?”

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Maybe biding their time until they can put their ageing parent in the cheap seats while they sip champagne in the posh ones?

One person commented that not only did this practice leave Ms Allsop free to relax but it left someone in standard class sitting next to her 10-year-old and 12-year-old sons; and while they may be perfectly lovely company, the fact is their parents are not with them. Maybe my old-fashioned idea that the family holiday begins the moment you set off from home is simply passé.

My children have been great company since they first smiled at me - the first sign of reciprocity in our relationship. For the cynics out there, this was not last week but when they were about a month old.

Holidays were precious because we were together. I’ve never been much of a fan of “me time”. I’ve never really known what to do with it. After plucking my eyebrows (and occasionally my chin), I usually end up finding someone to share it with and then it’s “us time”.

On a camping holiday to France in the 1980s, the only way we could get everything into the car for the early-morning ferry was to put the children in first and stuff bedlinen and pillows around them. They were thus cocooned all the way to Dover (this was pre-Channel Tunnel) and we had to excavate the back of the car to reclaim them.

Rice Krispies in Tupperware were doused in milk from a Thermos and, as we queued for the crossing, they sat on the roof of the car and ate breakfast.

Having spent every minute of every day with the children – quite a lot of it in the swimming pool; some of it with an almighty hangover (my husband reckoned the courier’s welcome party had served cheese that was a bit off) – we deemed the holiday the best ever... every family holiday thereafter was the “best ever”.

I look back now on those halcyon days and wish I could do it all again. The truth is, I’m not sure I could cope with a camp bed any more.

It was bad enough in the Loire valley when a mole decided to exit from his tunnel underneath my bed support and it tipped up, whereupon I was deposited onto the groundsheet.

I’m not sure I could manage life without en-suite facilities any more either. A cup of cocoa at bedtime means a 3am trip to the toilet.

Until they were teenagers, the children were an almost constant delight. Subsequently, we took a lot of “grumpy face” photographs, most of them on the shores of Scottish lochs.

But even in the tiresome years I would never have been parted from my children – although, of course, I couldn’t actually have afforded to go club class.

We are back-enders when it comes to air travel.

Too soon, the kids were all grown up and we were outgrown. Today, I don’t know exactly what my children are doing most of the time. I see them a lot but they have their own lives and, in the case of my son, a very full back seat of the car with George, Wil and, sleeping, three-month-old Herbie, dreaming of milk.

Young children are never an absurd waste of money.

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