I’ve been relaxing at the Renaissance Hotel in Koh Samui for the past two weeks on my honeymoon, so I have not only returned relaxed and recharged, I also have a somewhat swarthy tint akin to my personal hero George H. But on the way back, I observed something fascinating and amusing, and thought it would be the perfect way to break the holiday seal, and inject myself back into the world of the working.

On the way back to Melbourne from Bangkok, Yil and I scored seats in the very first row of Economy Class, right next to those heavenly stairs to First Class and in front of the entrance to Business Class. So we take our seats, and start watching everyone board the plane, and it was at this point that I noticed what I now classify as “The Upper Class”. Has the Thai sun fried my brain? Nope, let me explain.

So, you’ve got all the poor souls moving along into Cattle Class. They are the great unwashed, shuffling their feet, moving in unison, carefully checking their seat numbers against their boarding passes, squishing themselves into the small, unfriendly seats. They’re easy to pick, and are in the majority.

Then there are those who for reasons that might include gifts, courtesy, commerce, or wealth, have elevated themselves above the hoi polloi, to be greeted with generous seats, warm face towels, ample leg room, and the socks! Who could forget the socks! But have you ever noticed the different characters of the Upper Classes? I’ve summarised them below:

The Employee: They board expeditiously, with their laptop in hand, ready to work tirelessly throughout the flight. Either by frank debate or corporate policy, they have secured a respite from the portly gentlemen spilling out of his seat into yours or the chatty old lady who recounts the past 108 years to you from take off to landing.

The Comp: After spending the past 19 years saving up frequent flyer points, they have finally scored that seat in First or Business Class. They board with wild eyes, surveying every aspect of the aircraft like a child on their first trip to the toy store, they intend to savour every element of their journey, and will ensure nothing is left behind, including complimentary anything!

The Rock Star: This person boards the plane like it’s their personal jet. They never seem to carry anything! Nothing! In fact, they look like they left home on their way to the Milk Bar, not an international airport. But they’re fun, and carefree, and exude the kind of relaxed confidence that comes from flying across countries, states, or suburbs in the lap of luxury.

The Old Money: With the children at Harvard, and Daddy retired from his CEO post at the local BRW Top 5 company, Marm and Daddy now travel to exotic locations in the rarefied air of First Class. Both decked head to toe in Ralph Lifschitz’s finest, with hair that would put a Cadillac bumper to shame, they get sozzled on Airline Red before being escorted through the rear exit in matching wheelchairs to an awaiting limo.

The Penitent: My personal favourite, this is the person who has every right to be travelling in upper class, but feels horrible that they are doing so. They enter the plane like the accused on trial, with their head low, hands clasped in front of them. They approach the entrance to Business or First Class with trepidation, escaping any eye contact with the Cattle Class. Now, everyone in Cattle Class is happy for the Penitent, they would happily swap places in a heartbeat. But to the Penitent, the impending felicity of horizontally reclining seats and little bouquets in the toilet overwhelms him with the urge to flagellate himself with his complimentary headphone cord.

Anyway, it’s good to be back. Hope everyone has been well, and looking forward to Tech.Ed 2006 Oz and NZ (hope you get to fly upper class ;)).