The best and worst thing happened to me at Dublin airport recently.

We were asked to make ourselves known to the ground staff. Given that a five-day girls’ reunion had resulted in one rather large, swollen, bruised ankle that required wheelchair assistance for me (I balked at using it at the last minute), I wasn’t too alarmed.

We handed our boarding cards over and the words "Upgrade to first class" were scribbled over our passes in a blue pen.

My mate Michelle and I looked at each other wide-eyed and did not utter a word. Now was not the time to ask why, or to gush, but to board as quickly as possible before people changed their minds.

It is already a novelty to fly on a plane where you walk upstairs or can stand at a bar. But that pales in comparison with the bubble of an Emirates first-class experience. I checked afterwards, and this trip would have set me back about R80,000.

Things are different at the front of the plane, in your own private suite. You don’t have to wrestle your carry-on suitcase into an overhead locker — it slides in beneath your vanity desk. You aren’t interrupted by all those pesky announcements about turbulence, seatbelts and serving. The hostesses point out that you are free to order off the menu in whatever order you want, at any time.

First class travel. Picture: SUPPLIED
First class travel. Picture: SUPPLIED

I was handed a pack of Hydra Active sleepwear — "the world’s first moisturising sleepwear range" — in a sculpted felt envelope that now carries my laptop. And I was poured a glass of Dom Pérignon, which, you know, is on tap all night.

The desk in front of me held a basket of essential items: effervescent tablets, protein bars, snacks and breath fresheners, over which stood fresh flowers and a lamp. An actual lamp.

A drawer slid open to reveal a writing kit, perfect for penning memoirs of high-end travel. A pop-up vanity mirror shone down on Bulgari products. My own mini-bar of various drinks and types of water lined the side for easy access.

And what to eat? Well after the linen and cutlery was laid on my mini-table — just big enough for one — I had blinis and caviar while watching art house movies, thinking about what course I should have next and whether I should leave this cocoon to venture to the bar.

Interruptions came only from the hostess bringing me fresh ice packs for my ankle, raised on its first-class pillow, extended and suspended in its own vast personal space.

I would like to tell you about the rest of the menu, about the networking that was done and the effects of the beauty products, but my bed was made, my doors slid shut, my lights dimmed, and I slept. On my tummy, under my duvet, lulled to a sleep that can come only from a cocoon of utter luxury; and future flying was ruined forever.