The PM is a distant relative of mine, you bastards. Let me into first class now!

Last week, my antipathy towards the "Do you know who I am (related to)?" attitude was sorely tested by the prospect of a nine-hour flight on Kenya Airways. Arriving at Heathrow at the start of a press trip to Africa, I and four other dishevelled and stressed journalists met our nervous PR contact, who handed us, rather quietly, our plane tickets.

One by one, a puzzled look crossed our faces. "Erm, excuse me," said Lorna, the hunting-and-fishing lifestyle guru, "my ticket says 'economy'. What does that mean?" We all checked and rechecked our tickets in horror. I even turned mine over to see if the words "Just kidding: you're in business class" appeared on the back. Rachel, the PR, shuffled her feet nervously and explained that she had tried for an upgrade on the basis that we were on a business trip that could be helpful to the airline, but had been told curtly: "Forget it, no upgrades for journalists. And don't even think about trying for one at the airport."

We faced nine long, cramped hours. Pitifully, we queued alongside "normal" passengers and looked longingly towards the business-class check-in desk. I was determined not to be beaten. Armed with a pair of Scholl support tights as evidence, I approached the smartest Kenya Airways rep I could find. "Look, I'm at genuine risk of DVT on long-haul flights, so I need an upgrade for health reasons. And, erm, so do my colleagues." She looked doubtfully at the five of us ragbag, denim-clad journalists.

"We'll be really quiet," I pleaded, sensing her hesitation and imagining free hot towels and champagne.

"You don't look like business- or first-class passengers," she said sadly. "You will never get an upgrade in jeans."

Without a second thought, I dashed back to the queue and explained that we had to change clothes now if we were to avoid the horror of travelling cattle class. Quick as a flash, the pink-nailed Annabelle threw open her hand luggage and began thrusting tight T-shirts and sandals at the girls. I was given pink, shiny flip-flops and a pale-blue outfit that was very ER-chic. The old gentleman behind us grinned hopefully as we debated desperately whether or not to strip where we stood or to change in the toilets. To his disappointment, and the increasing amusement of the smart airline rep, we ran to the loos to change from scruffy bags into premier-class babes.

Alas, it was all in vain. The sour-faced woman at the boarding desk took one look at us and, with mock regret, said: "Take your seats in economy. Now, please."

Our desperate rep tried another tack: "Look," the brave girl hissed, "the least you can do is give my friends two seats together so they can stretch their legs."

Minutes later, the boarding-desk terrier marched towards us. In a voice of pure ice, she asked: "Would you all like to get off the flight?"

We sat down hurriedly, and in stunned silence. All we had wanted was a little extra legroom. The men behind me were giggling and pushing the back of my seat with their legs. One of them leant forward and lisped in my ear: "Who do you think you are, eh? Trying to get an upgrade by feigning thrombosis . . ." I was on the edge of an emotional precipice. My knees were pushed up so high that my feet couldn't touch the floor. I wriggled and fought the feeling that my legs were already swelling, a clot rushing its deathly way towards my lungs. As the cabin crew made their final pre-flight checks, I leapt to my feet, now hysterical, and screamed: "A distant relative of mine is the British Prime Minister, you bastards, let me into first class now!"

Well, that's almost what happened. In reality, as the engines throbbed into life, I humbly buckled my belt and grimly pulled on the support tights. I wonder if it would have worked.

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