My day has started unexpectedly well.
After catching a few hours sleep due to completing a major project I have been working on for the past two and a half years, I wasn’t looking forward to the long, 11-hour flight to Seoul. The realities of buying my company back in 2015 after an unfortunate four-year hiatus, means economies are always a focus and if that means a long-haul economy flight, so be it.
But having a squillion or so air miles with British Airways and a gold card that has well and truly earned its hue comes in handy sometimes. And so it was this morning that I heard about the most welcome five words in the English language. “Mr Moodie, you’ve been upgraded.”
Given the writing and editing workload I have to get through on this flight, I could have kissed the woman at check-in. That would not be right of course, so I did a little skip instead, a mini-fusion of Maori haka and Irish jig, but necessarily understated to leave the impression that this happens all the time.
So to the BA lounge, my oh so regular haunt down the years. Just time to scramble down some… er… scrambled eggs and make the extremely difficult choice of what to wash them down with. A lovely chilled Castelnau Champagne or the rare find of a superb Schoenenbourg Alsace Grand Cru Riesling? Decisions, decisions. As I write, with 1o minutes to boarding, I have opted for the former. But as the old saying goes, 10 minutes is a long time in a passenger lounge.
I wasn’t looking forward to the flight but I am looking forward to South Korea. I have been travelling there almost every year since 1989. I know the country, the culture and many of its people very well. I have also tracked its fascinating travel retail sector for nearly 30 years. It is never less than volatile, and full of innovation, surprises and drama in roughly equal measure. It is also the world’s biggest duty free market. I’ll bring you my impressions in coming days.