A miraculous thing happened at 11.25pm on April 17, 2012, a date that henceforth will be celebrated as my official birthday.
At that time, on that day, I was the first person to disembark an intercontinental aircraft.
This had never happened before and it may never happen again.
The reason for my swift, effortless departure from Cathay Pacific’s Flight CX 157 from Hong Kong to Brisbane was this: I had reached the promised land of jobbing hacks, otherwise known as business class.
For my entire flight from Heathrow to eastern Australia I was upgraded to business.
Call me shallow, call me grabbing, call me what the hell you like.
But the fact of the matter is that Cathay Pacific has now become unquestionably the greatest airline in the world. I am not a fan of tattoos but I may get “I ♥ Cathay Pacific” injected onto my chest.
All my previous attempts to get an airline upgrade (and there have been many, far too many to mention) ended in abject failure.
Until Cathay came along, the closest I got to escaping economy was flying to Barbados with British Airways.
I did all the usual things. I fawned, I fluttered my eyelids, I wore a linen jacket, I told everyone how hugely influential and lovely I was.
I explained, repeatedly, to anyone who would listen, that I would be staying at some very posh places.
I told them, in effect, that I was one of them. I understood business class, I got it. OK?
The experience wouldn’t be wasted on me, like it is when motoring journalists and B-list daytime TV presenters get bumped up.
If the front of the plane hadn’t been full, said the Barbados-bound cabin services manager, she would have been happy to oblige.
She really meant it too, which made it all the more difficult to take. But business was full. So could I get back in economy and stop upsetting her staff?
The CSM, by the way, is the most powerful person on an aircraft.
Forget the pilot. Anyone can fly a plane and there are two of them, pilots, so if one forgets what he is doing he can ask his chum to take the controls.
No, the CSM is the gatekeeper to business class as well as the El Dorado of air travel known as first class, which I don’t think actually exists.
The CSM can make your dreams come true. It is she – because it is usually an immaculately made-up and manicured she – who dictates whether you will be eating and drinking mini cheddars and um bongo, or Champagne and prawn canapés.
It was while we were eating as many nibbles as humanly possible in the business class lounge at Heathrow that word spread among our small press group that there were two business class upgrades available, to be split between five of us.