Is business class really worth it?

It's the prawns that do it. Big fat, juicy prawns. Before that, it's possible to believe that this isn't all that special, that sitting back in economy class wouldn't have been all that different. That despite the express everything, plus the open bar, the smiles, the huge seat and the big screen, you're not all that impressed.

But there they are, three plump, fresh prawns balanced on thin slices of mango, a dressing of some sort casually draped over the top.

You don't get prawns in economy. You don't get an entree course in economy. You get a little TV dinner-style thing - a plastic cup of plastic salad, a cardboard bread roll, a foil-covered tray of mystery meal and a plastic cup of plastic cheesecake. So the fact you have this little plate of food in front of you at all is a surprise.

Come to think of it, so was the fact the waitress - sorry, hostess - addressed you by name while taking your pre-dinner drink order.

Oh, and the fact you got a pre-dinner drink order. Yes, I travelled business class. No, I didn't pay for it.

Like most business-class travellers, mine was the result of my job. Some nice people offered to put me in the pointy end of the plane, and I accepted. Now, like Derek Zoolander, who can't turn left, I find it very difficult to get to the plane door and turn right.

I didn't pay for business class because I wouldn't pay for business class. I can't see the sense in shelling out four times what you would normally have to, just for a few hours of extra comfort (and a couple of prawns).

But at least I now know what I'm choosing not to do should I ever be in a position to be able to afford to have that choice. The trouble with business class is that it's all a bit embarrassing. To be a good business-class traveller, you have to be a champion pusher-inerer, one of those people who would have barged you out of the tuckshop queue at high school.

It starts when you arrive at the airport and sail through the business-class line while all the economy schlubs patiently wait in their long line and stare at you thinking, "How the hell can that guy afford business-class seats?"

You're then given a little "express" customs card, meaning you once again breeze past the economy classers as a nice lady points you in the direction of the customs official waiting just for you.

Another nice lady then holds back the baying masses as you sneak in to the front of the line at the X-ray scanners.

So far, so much pushing in. You then wheel your stylish roller luggage up to a magical part of the airport I had no idea even existed: the airline lounge. There'll be no greasy cheeseburgers or lukewarm kebabs on this transit - maybe a salad from the buffet, perhaps washed down with a cocktail from the open bar.

By the time you've checked your email on the free Wi-Fi and caught up on the news on the big screen, the first boarding call is ringing out and you know what that means: more pushing in.

Straight to the front of the queue as you ease your way on board and into your giant seat.

There, you recline with a glass of sparkling wine as the plebs from economy class hassle their kids down the aisle and stare at you thinking, "How the hell can that guy afford business-class seats?"

You wonder how much better this can get. Do you get an inflatable dingy stowed under your seat instead of a life jacket?

Or a parachute?

Not quite. But the rest of the flight is all wine lists, prawn entrees, a selection of main courses with the chefs' names listed next to them, cheese plates, movies on demand, first off the plane and first bags around the carousel. All in all, a completely different - and completely undeserved - experience to those in the back of the plane.

It's not perfect, though. There are certain truisms of travel that no amount of money can alter - most notably, the fact that if the wings suddenly fall off and the plane plummets into the ocean, you're just as screwed as those poor bastards rammed into economy class. There's also still the chance your "priority" baggage will be lost. Probably somewhere luxurious, but still lost.

It's comforting to keep those things in mind when it comes to your next flight. Because as embarrassing as flying business class is, as uncomfortable as you feel about all these little undeserved extras that are being dangled in the face of the economy people , there's only one thing worse than this flight full of uneasiness: going back to economy.

Read Ben Groundwater's column every Sunday in the Sun-Herald.