Fly like British Royalty

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Since everything in the news revolves around the royal wedding lately I thought I’d share the story of my tendency to wiggle my way into the royal family (or at least some kind of family with a hint of royalty).

I first wrote this piece for Traveller24.

On the website of British Airways I select my from and to, I choose my date and under ‘Flight Class’ I leave the default option, ‘Economy’, and under ‘Ticket Type’ going with the lowest price is inevitable.

When it comes to flying I don’t care much for comfort. I would if I could, but “How low can you go” is my ticket-booking theme song. And I sing it even louder if it is a domestic flight. What’s 90 squeezed minutes between strangers?

I select my flight, click continue, agree with the statement telling me I am not allowed to have bleach on board, click and continue again.

British Airways asks oh-so-politely if I want to book a hotel at R2000 a night or if I want to rent a car.

I’m really flattered BA, but public busses and a friend’s couch will have to do for now. Next time okay? Pinky promise.

I continue with the flights only, and start to fill out the details.

Title. Done.
First name. Done.
Last name. Done.
E-mail address. Done.
Telephone number. Done.

I double check everything.

Yes, yep, all seem right.

I’m ready to continue but pause at ‘Title’. It seems that there are more titles than what is necessary. What else could there be besides the obvious Mr, Mrs, Miss and Ms?

I scroll down – questioning the difference between Miss and Ms – and a world of royalty rolls out with a drum roll and a royal trumpet fanfare: Dame, Lady, Lord, Sir, Viscount, Viscountess, Baron and Baroness.

Who cares about the difference between Miss and Ms when you can be part of some kind of royal family?

But wait there’s more; I can also be a high-paying professional for the duration of the flight with zero skills! There is Captain, Doctor, Professor and The Right Honourable.

Doctor? No. If someone chokes I won’t be able to perform the Heimlich Manoeuver. That’s out of the question.

Captain? Are we heading south-west, or is it just west? Nope. What if I have to land the plane… well, then, just no.

Professor. I don’t know, for some reason people still think I’m a decade younger than what I really am. This one won’t fit like a glove.

There is also the option to be a Rabbi or a Reverend.

What does the Mstr abbreviation stand for again? Mistress? No, that can’t be right? It is probably Master? 

While I’m scrolling through the titles, dreaming up mock-up stories and thinking how I will explain myself if the ground personnel at the airport asks what happened to my diamond crown (or is this only reserved for those high up?), I send British Airways a tweet, telling them that they’re screwing with my imagination and that being a Ms seems just so vanilla.

They replied: You can be anything want to be!

Title. Lady.


Credit card details.


Done! Ticket booked.

Wam, bam, thank you for not calling me mam!

I get my e-mail confirmation:

Dear Lady Rautenbach,
Thank you for booking with British Airways.
Details, details, blah blah blah, details, blah, economy class, more details and blah.

A month later I arrived at the airport in a sweaty rush – not very royal at all; my ride was late, I finished packing a minute before I left, forgot a few essentials (phone charger included) and most-likely got a speeding ticket on the way.

Disappointment hit when we slammed the brakes at the drop-and-go; no red carpet, no extra security and no long black cars with flag thingies on the sides. I didn’t even dress appropriately or have the right accessories to play the part; I threw my bag over my shoulder and marched to the ticket counter, 5 minutes and a few seconds before it closed.

With sweaty hands I handed over my passport.

Will she pause at the title before my name? Will I get an upgrade? Probably not. But will she call me Lady?

The British Airways staff member tagged my bag, printed the ticket, smiled and said, “Go to gate 4. Have a nice flight Miss Rautenbach.”


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