Depending on who you ask it either costs money, is precious or flies.
Or it’s a social construct that we impose upon ourselves, but that’s a debate for another day.
However you slice it our perception of time, and the quality of it, depends on what we do with it at any given moment.
It will run fast either when you are having fun, or when you have too little of it, and of course it drags when you are either engaged in a task or experience we don’t enjoy.
Those that practice so-called ‘mindfulness’ talk about being present in the moment, focusing on what is happening so that one gets the most out of that point in time.
There maybe something in that, but you don’t need to be a guru to know that how you spend your time is a valuable investment. You just have to be a frequent flier, with all its deadlines, queues and potential pitfalls, to fully appreciate time in all its forms (including wasted).
However, anyone who flies in business class on Emirates Airlines is already a master of slowing time down and making the moments count.
A recent flight from Dubai to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia proved to be a seven-hour and 20 minutes yoga-like session in perfecting the art of relaxing while travelling thousands of miles.
It starts as you pull up to the dedicated Emirates terminal with its exclusive entrance for business and first class passengers.
Here everyone pretty much knows what they are doing, where they are heading and how to use an airport – you don’t get the gawpers, you know the guys who don’t take off their belts as they walk through security or stand in the walking lane on the moving walkway.
Look everyone has to fly for the first time so good luck to them, but Emirates smooth out this wrinkle in the fine cloth that is your journey when you fly business class.
Of course then it’s quickly through security and into the lounge.
This is where you get to let out that first proper exhalation of breath, like yoga as you relax into the comfort and hospitality provided. Yes, you have to keep an eye on the clock for boarding slightly, but you can let down your guard as you wait.
This all is the prelude, it’s when you’ve been priority boarded and sink into your business class seat that you begin to truly slip into that Zen-like calm.
The Boeing 777-300-ER treats you to an angle-lie flat seat bed, which is 52 centimetres wide and features an amazing 150cm of overall space.
But that is eclipsed by the warm smile, the hotel towel and the glass of something chilled that greets you as you take your seat.
As you take off you feel time begin to change, it somehow slows so you notice small details that normally the hurried eye misses, whether that be the genuine connection the on-board crew make with passengers, the ambiance in business class (which is a type of shared contentment), the rather clever automated window blinds or if you travelling at night the supercool ‘Starlight illumination’ in the cabin ceiling (similar to a Rolls-Royce Wraith as I’ve written before).
Eventually you enter a timezone that only travellers in business class on Emirates can experience. For the rest of the world, of course time passes with all its differing degrees of perception. But here on board time is suspended, it’s all one long moment to be enjoyed, whether that is logging on to wi-fi, watching or listening to the excellent ICE entertainment system, enjoying some fine-dining in the sky or simply sleeping (after the on-board team have employed their ‘turn-down service’, laid a mattress and made your bed for you).
Essentially it’s as close to science fiction’s suspended animation as you are likely to get in reality. In what seems to be no time at all you touch down at your destination.
As the lush greenery of Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur comes into focus you experience a tinge of regret as you touch back down on planet earth.
Facts and figures
Journey time – seven hours 20 minutes Dubai to Kuala Lumpur.
Seat width – 52 cm
Seat pitch – 150cm
Angle-lie flat bed
Turn-down service with mattress
In-seat power sockets for phone charging and laptops