In this brave new day of equality and populist global resurgence, it’s interesting to hear that the forces of privilege are still holding onto a few redoubts. One of them seems to be in the front of the airplane.The NYT has a story about the quantum leaps first class service on international airlines has taken in recent decades, mentioning that first-class on Emirates Airlines, for instance, offers showers at 36,000 feet. It seems like just yesterday when first class simply meant a few extra inches of legroom. The changes in coach, Via Meadia is told by reliable informants, have mostly been in the other direction, where microwaved food nourishes the masses as they get intimate with their neighbor in a war over the armrest.The growing disparity between coach and first class may set off a predictable alas and alackaday session of breastbeating by the equality police, but on planes as on the ground, the rich do at least a little something for the poor. Because first class makes 40-50% of an airline’s revenue yet only accounts for about 5% of all seats on “long-haul” routes, coach fares are substantially cheaper than they would be without the rich folks up front.This isn’t much comfort to thirty and forty year old road warriors still stuck in the back of the plane, but it is great news for the young. Today’s kids are much better traveled than past generations of Americans, and despite high fuel prices and taxes, fares remain a great bargain by historical standards.The Via Meadia advice: ignore the cramped discomfort and the lousy food. Book the cheapest seat you can find on Skybus Express and go see as much of the world as you possibly can. If you are young and broke, you might as well be learning something.And don’t glare too hard at the people lounging in those first class seats. If they weren’t where they are and paying what they pay, you probably wouldn’t be on the plane.
Occupy First Class
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