As a budget traveler, options for air travel are typically limited to low-cost carriers. In my travels around Southeast Asia, I’ve flown almost exclusively on Cebu Pacific, AirAsia, JetStar Airways, and Tiger Airways. When I got to fly Malaysia Airlines from Siem Reap to Kuala Lumpur, it was more out of luck than anything else; MAS was running a promo, and fares ended up cheaper than AirAsia at that time. But apart from that special instance, low-cost carriers were the way to go.

On my most recent trip to Thailand last month, I decided to give myself a Christmas present by flying “legacy” carriers. I was going to take Singapore Airlines from Singapore to Bangkok (and back), and Thai Airways from Bangkok to Chiang Mai (and back), all on Economy Class. It was a great idea, but booking flights at the last minute threw some twists into the mix.

I booked my flights successfully, but while I was checking I my itineraries on TripIt, I realized that I had booked my flight from Singapore to Bangkok on the wrong day. So, I had to rebook. When I went to the site to rebook my flight, I found out that Economy Class on the flight I wanted to take to Bangkok was already sold out, but there were a few Business Class seats available. I was screwed; after all, this was the only flight from Singapore Airlines I could take without completely changing my other flight plans.

So I bit the bullet and rebooked on Business Class.

the Singapore Airlines plane which I flew on

And that’s the story of how a budget traveler somehow ended up in Business Class. Needless to say, my presence probably confused some flight attendants as well as the other passengers. I did my best to dress the part, but lugging around my Eagle Creek backpack probably didn’t help matters.

As for the flight itself, it was definitely quite the experience. It was great to be in a flight where not only do I get enough legroom, but I get to recline quite a fair bit. (Indeed, on the flight back from Bangkok, I slept quite comfortably, a first for me while flying.) It was refreshing not to have to pay for every single drink; in fact, all beverages, including alcoholic drinks, were free flowing on the flight. There was a glut of in-flight entertainment options. And the food! My meal on the flight from Singapore to Bangkok was “conceptualized” by Wolfgang Puck. It was absolutely delicious. So was my meal on the flight back. To top it off, I got to spend some time in the Singapore Airlines airport lounge at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport. It was glorious: Wifi, food, drinks, the works.

It was definitely something I could get used to. The utter comfort and luxury involved with flying Business Class is something else. After this one experience, it’s hard to imagine going back to cramped seats that don’t recline, and paying for even a small glass of juice during the flight. Plus there’s something very satisfying about flight attendants lavishing you with attention while calling you by name. As I disembarked from the plane on that first flight, I told one of the lead flight attendants that it was my first time flying Business Class; he offered to take my photo inside the plane. I also got permission to take a copy of the menu home.

Singapore Airlines Business Class menu

Would I do it again? Definitely. But CAN I do it again? Most likely not in the near future. The cost of a Business Class ticket for flights within Southeast Asia is pretty close to the cost of an Economy Class ticket for flights to Europe, so I’ll probably stick to low-cost carriers in the meantime, saving up for that flight to Europe.

Still, it was an experience to remember, and it gives me something to aim for in my later years…