For a long time I thought travelling all over the world was something other people did.
My childhood family holidays were two-hour road trips in a Tarago with my four other siblings – at best.
So when I got the chance to be a mystery shopper for an airline, it felt like a lotto win.
I had a tip-off from a friend and signed up to a few market research companies which hired for ad-hoc jobs for airlines.
It was the easiest job I had ever applied for, no cover letter, no resume, no interview. The only requirement was availability to travel.
Becoming an undercover agent in the sky was effortless.
A few weeks later, I got an email saying “Flight Assessors Required” with a list of destinations.
If you replied first you could get listed for the highest class trip on the list.
I had a real chance at flying first class.
My first ticket was booked and I was sent my “scenarios” by post. I signed a contract that stipulated that I was to keep my job a secret.
From check-in nail inspecting to writing notes on-board, I had a mission to complete and I could not be found out.
During my secret career, I got paid to travel to the Caribbean, China, and the US - in style.
On one trip, I was driven to the airport, ushered from check-in to the lounge where I got a meal, a drink and a haircut and then flew first class.
I came back to earth quickly. When I arrived at my destination, I checked in to a cheap room in a backpacker hostel - next to a brothel.
All of my undercover "scenarios" were completed with integrity. I reported diamante watches and talking in the galley. I had a convincing headache and requested off-menu herbal tea in the middle of the night.
One scenario was a mission to the on-board bar (I didn't even know they existed). I walked past Cameron Diaz on my way to order my gin and tonic.
On one of my trips, it took eight hours to fill out my assessment on a dodgy internet connection in China.
The market researchers asked me a lot of questions, but it was worth it.
I got to live out my childhood dreams and I even got to keep the pyjamas.