Air travel is becoming the most obvious reflection of America’s growing inequality. At the checkpoint, pre-cleared passengers don’t need the typical body scan.
At the gate, certain special people get the red carpet.
And on board, “Only a privileged few will enjoy the widest seat in the sky, measuring 35 inches across.”
That’s where your legroom went, economy passengers.
Today unless you’re Silver, Gold, or Platinum, you’re cargo.
God forbid, we economy fliers get an assigned element from the periodic table. If we did, it would be Plutonium because we’re crammed in so tight, we could explode at any time.
Do you know what the airlines spend on the typical business class seat? The New York Times visited a seat manufacturer to find out.
“Your average business class seat, it can be around $30,000 to $80,000 per passenger place. It depends,” said the manufacturer.
And a first class seat, with bed and various Star Trek touch controls, can cost $500,000 each!
Air travel is a world where we in the middle class provide the business class with something to pity as we shuffle past in quiet desperation knowing there will be no space in the overhead bins.
But should we be envious?
There has to be some reward for being rich. Otherwise, what would be the point? Luxury air travel is a way that the rich can feel rich and it doesn’t really matter because we’re all on the same plane.
We all arrive at the same times. It’s just that some of us arrive happy, well fed, and rested. The rest of us arrive angry, dehydrated, and with painful blood clots in our legs.
But it’s OK. And frankly it should make you feel safer with a lot of wealthy people up front. Because you can be pretty sure you’re not getting the kind of crew that loses track of whether the auto pilot is on.