Usually it is the sort of service reserved for government ministers, heads of state or royalty.
But as passengers on board a flight from New York became stranded on the snow-blanketed tarmac at Stansted Airport over the weekend, their frustration turned to anger as they watched one passenger being allowed off the plane two hours before everyone else.
Who was this honoured traveller? Step forward the Queen of Pop, Madonna.
Indeed, as blizzards brought Britain’s transport system to a near standstill, there were few more miserable folk than those on board Virgin Atlantic flight VSO10 from New York who were diverted from Heathrow, having already been delayed for 90??minutes in the States.
When the plane finally arrived at Stansted, the ground crews were overloaded with other diverted aircraft from Heathrow, Luton and Gatwick and could not cope. So, for three hours, most of the Virgin passengers remained in their seats.
According to fellow passengers in upper class, Madonna and her entourage were allowed off first and whisked away by bus to the terminal two hours before everyone else. But not before she handed out some impromptu in-flight entertainment.
Says one passenger: ‘It was bad enough having to wait, but then she started doing her yoga in the aisles.
‘After about an hour, a bus came along and took her and her party of about 15 off the plane. It seemed a little unfair — it’s not like she is the President or anything. The rest of us all had to wait for another two hours.
‘If the plane had taken off on time, it would have made it to Heathrow an hour before the runways were closed at 11.30am and so would never have needed to be diverted.’
A spokesman for Virgin says: ‘As the plane was diverted to Stansted due to very difficult weather conditions, disembarkation was delayed while ground staff waited for buses to transport customers back to London Heathrow. We apologise for any inconvenience this diversion caused, but for safety reasons this action was unavoidable.
‘It is common across airlines that business and first-class passengers disembark first and this is reflected in the higher cost of the ticket.’
But my first-class mole insists: ‘Madonna was taken off the plane way before the rest of the first-class people. We were all grumbling about it.’