Flying pharmacologic first class. Tallong, NSW, Australia. 2010

Over the Easter long weekend, I met Shawn who is visiting Australia from the US. Shawn is an old friend and fellow anaesthetist of a friend of mine, Peter.

I always find doctors entertaining in social circumstances, and I love pumping them for information about things I probably shouldn’t know about. As a consequence, I had what I thought was a pretty interesting conversation with Shawn and Peter while we were hanging out at my in-law’s holiday home in Tallong over Easter.

Me: “So, Shawn, how was the flight over?”

Dr. “Shawn: Cattle class always sucks.”

Dr. Peter: “You should’ve flown business.”

Dr. Shawn: “I know, I know, but I just can’t justify it to myself, even though I can afford it.”

Me: “I hate economy and I dislike the fact that I can’t afford first class even more.”
“It’s so cramped and after a few hours my joints start to swell and ache.”
“Not to mention the tedium.”
“Surely as a doctor, you’d be able to prescribe something to make economy more like first class?”

Dr. Shawn: “Well, you wouldn’t be getting a script from me, and that’s for sure.”

Dr. Peter: “Or me for that matter!”

Me: “Don’t go getting all high and mighty with me you glorified meat plumbers!”

Dr. Shawn: “Look, the trouble is that probably the best drug to control the general pain from sitting in a seat for so long would be a narcotic like Endone.”

Dr. Peter: “That stuff is hillbilly heroin!”
“Although we may be friends, you won’t get me writing you any prescriptions for narcotics just so you can fly in comfort in the cheap seats.”
“Anyhow, the Endone would constipate you.”

Dr. Shawn: “Metamucil would help out there.”

Me: “So it’s only the rich and famous with their pet doctors who get to travel by air comfortably?”

Dr. Peter: “They’d have enough money to travel first class anyway.”

Dr. Shawn: “Having enough money to keep a doctor or two in your pocket can lead to death.”
“Look at Michael Jackson and Heath Ledger.”

Me: “So you wouldn’t help out about the general pain, but what about the joint aches and swelling?’

Dr. “Shawn: A Voltaren patch would work well.”

Dr. Peter: “You can’t get those here in Australia.”

Me: “So I guess you’d have to take the pills?”

Dr. Shawn: “Yes and I’d also say it would be worthwhile to take some Aspirin to counter the risk of deep vein thrombosis.”
“Trouble is that the Voltaren and Aspirin are hard on the stomach so I’d say Zantac would be worth taking too.”

Me: “Well, all that leaves is the boredom, and adjusting to the jet lag.”

Dr. Shawn: “The best way to pass the time would be to sleep and for that I’d take Stilnox although Lunesta might be better.” 
“Stilnox lasts for about 4 fours Lunesta works for about 8 hours.”

Dr. Peter: “You can’t get Lunesta in Australia but Stilnox is ok, and no, Razz, I’m not going to help you out there either!”

Me: “O.K., O.K. be that way!”
“But as a matter of interest, how much would this Pharmacological First Class upgrade cost?”

Dr. Shawn: “Under ten bucks.”

So there you have it, people. There is a way to fly long distance, comfortably and cheaply.

Unfortunately it’s illegal.

14 thoughts on “Flying pharmacologic first class. Tallong, NSW, Australia. 2010”

  1. Buying a ticket on a Garuda flight from Jakarta to Kuala Lumpur in 1997, I kept asking the travel agency why my ticket was so cheap … and the staff kept laughing. It was only when I boarded the plane that I realized they were laughing because they sold me a first class ticket … and couldn’t believe I was saying it was so cheap.
    It was awesome!

    I’m sure the next time I fly first class will be when I’m filthy rich … or when some filthy rich person is buying my ticket.

    note: I’d rather be rich than filthy, but if the two together are an option … I’ll choose filthy rich. Hey! I can always buy soap!

  2. Of course they’re not going to give you a drug cocktail if you’re threatenting to blog about it, razzbuffnik! But go have a few drinks with these guys to loosen them up, and they might just cough up a few pills for your next trip. It’s funny though how some of those drugs legal in one country become illegal by the time you land… Nothing like consistent science, huh? Or is it money and politics??

  3. So, I learn from your post that it is either comfortable & cheap or legal. Like cats or curtains – you cannot have both, right? Damn life.

  4. Ross

    The staff at Garuda were laughing at you for flying Garuda. I’ve have to be heavily sedated and have a gun at my head to fly with them.


    Many of the conversations that I had with Peter and Shawn were of a nature that I couldn’t write about because we’d all end up in a law court. For example, I’m sure many people would’ve found it interesting to know what a couple of doctors thought about what happened to Wacko Jacko and Heath, but I knew it would only lead to major trouble.


    I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that the airline make travel uncomfortable so they can sell the more expensive seats. Isn’t it funny how when we were kids, flying seemed so exciting, now, my heart sinks whenever I know I have to go on a long flight. I’m so over the whole flying thing.

  5. If I remember correctly, your biggest complaint about your long flight home from Europe was not physical discomfort but the French tourist group traveling with you. What do your docs have as an antidote to that? Mine would be:

    Flying only on an airline that caters to folks wearing Bermuda shorts and those big print Hawaiian floral shirts. I’m pretty sure there’s no Frenchwoman or Frenchman alive or dead who would ever put on that traveling outfit.

  6. CQ

    That’s what I thought.


    If I was sedated or asleep on the flight back from Europe, I don’t think I would’ve cared about what a bunch of jerks they were being.

  7. Razz, Flying sucks, it starts at the airport with queing for the check-in. Paying for any extra such as extra luggage, sometimes the charged everyting extra tings you need for fly. The next step: the damned security who gave me East-European feelings (Grenzübergangsstelle Marienborn or Bahnhof Berlin-Friedrichstraße). Then about the cattle class, I will compare the cattle class in the Boeing or Airbus with the old-style third class in trains. Even with wooden seats or benches third class in trains is quite comfortable because the latter allows you more leg room and allow to bring your own picknick, beer or wine. You can’t bring your own picknick, beer or wine at aircraft. Don’t forget third class on ocean travel: first class travel compared to airline cattle class.

    Next time I recommend travel by vessel or train :)


  8. Pat

    Just call me the “princess and the jerk”


    Rail is definitely the best form of travel. I love the fact that you can get up and walk around. A high speed train from Sydney to Europe is something I’d love to see (Wow, what a trip that would be!), but I know it won’t happen in my lifetime.


    Shawn is in Tassie at the moment checking out a hospital job near Bernie.

  9. Hi Razz, I entirely agree with the fact rail is the best travel modus. Oz ought to build a hi-speed rail between Sydney and Melbourne, serving seven million inhabitants, 950 km in five hours, similar to the TGV Paris – Marseille, ICE the Eurostar with off-the-shelf equipment and rail can really compete with air. Shall I come to Oz to found a private high-speed rail enterprise without cattle class? The Dutch are real entrepeneurs and I’m proud of it. Unfortunality, the stupid politicans are too addicted with their cars to allow this idea.

    Unfortunately pharmacological First Class upgrade is impossible ’cause it’s illegal. But there are a lot’s of things illegal or hard to get. See alcohol in Sweden or America, cigarettes in many countries. Here in the Netherlands, cannabis is illegal, but we still have approx. 700 coffeeshops – actually cannabis shops. These establishments are tolerated, although cannabis is illegal under Dutch law. The Dutch synonym for ‘tolerated’ is ‘gedogen’. Maybe we can setup coffeeshops at airports to sell pharmacological First Class upgrades.

  10. Joost

    The trouble (and also good thing) with Australia and high speed trains is our small population. Too small a tax base and too great the distances to cover with rail.

    Please feel free to come to Oz and kick a few political backsides to start up a private high-speed rail enterprise.

    When I was in Amsterdam last year, I went to one of those coffee shops and sampled their product. I’ll write about it soon. I love the idea of selling the pharmacological First Class upgrades at airports. It’s a brilliant idea and I’m going to some speak to people about it and find out how feasible it would be. I can see it now, special “travel comfort clinics” opening up at airports all around the world.

  11. I’ve long wished that they could just knock me out for long flights and thaw me out once we arrived. My friend Carl is about 6 foot 5 and looks like he’s crouching when in an airline seat. His brother though, has it worse. He’s 6 foot 7. As an interesting note, here in the States, the carrier JetBlue will sell you more leg room for ten bucks and they already offer the most leg room of any of the US carriers. That, in my opinion, is money well spent!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.