The widening gulf between first and worst on airlines

by Charlie Leocha on September 21, 2012

Airlines are going out of their way to separate their top customers from the rabble that fills the back of their planes. In the old days, first-class passengers got bigger seats, full meals, free drinks and early boarding. They still do. But, now with new perks, some have separate terminals, seats that convert to beds, are excused from fees, allowed to change flights at a whim, can skirt TSA whole-body scanners and find themselves being chauffeured around the airport in Mercedes and Porsches.

This is in-your-face perk warfare that is adding to the poor customer service issues plaguing the airline industry. The common man is faced with airlines flaunting the special status of elite frequent fliers and the rich.

We see it in security lines. We see it when we march through first class on the way to the back of the plane. We see it when we wind through lay-flat seats to our 32-inch pitch. We smell it every time flight attendants pull the flimsy curtain between first and worse at meal times or when airlines are handing first class passengers chocolate chip cookies. We feel it when we have to fork out $150 or $250 to change a flight.

Here are some of the airlines’ most egregious efforts to coddle their top spenders.

Delta’s Porsche to the Plane
Delta is now shuttling top elite’s with tight connections between flights on a fleet of Porsches. The “others” fend for themselves.

[A Delta representative] runs them down jet-bridge stairs, loads them into a $66,000 Porsche Cayenne S and drives them across the tarmac to their connecting flights. Changing terminals in a 400-horsepower luxury SUV takes but a couple of minutes, and customers bound up the stairs used by pilots and ground workers and slip into seats without riding trains, fighting crowds or waiting in crowded boarding lines.

Diamond members, who fly at least 125,000 miles a year, get priority over platinum (75,000 miles a year). The top 500 Diamond members get special highlighting on the sheets used by the drivers, who make a special effort to always greet them, even driving them to their car in an airport parking lot or a nearby hotel.

Mr. Tikvesa [one of the Delta BMW drivers] prints out an extra boarding pass for the passenger’s connecting flight so he can scan them into Delta’s computer system once the passenger is on board.

In Frankfurt, Germany, Lufthansa has built a totally separate terminal for their first-class passengers. Air France has done something similar. Perhaps having the elites treated specially out of sight of the normal travelers reduces traveler class envy.

Advertising the joys of Business Class

Do you remember the last time you saw an airline commercial for travelers in coach (other than Southwest, JetBlue and some low-fare carriers which have only one class)? Each of the airlines touts their first class and business class products in as lush a way as possible. They celebrate the unattainable for most fliers.

TSA security lanes
Another place where the airlines rub the differential treatment of the elites in the face of the hoi-polloi is in the security lines leading up to TSA security checks. You see, the airlines control those lines (you see later why that makes a difference to TSA). The airlines have decided to allow their elite frequent fliers to move through a shorter and faster security line on their way to their TSA search.

Nearly all the airlines now allow well-heeled passengers to pay for the privilege of cutting ahead of the rest of us at the TSA checkpoint. At many airline checkpoints there are two lines. The long line looks like America; the short line is made up mostly of affluent white men.

Is this the future we Americans want: two lines at all airline security checkpoints, one for the privileged 1 percent and the other for the 99 percent who have to stand aside to let the people with lots of money pass? Alas, it appears that making economic apartheid formal in U.S. civil aviation is a bad idea whose time has come.

TSA PreCheck is fixed to handle elite and first class passengers

Once a passenger arrives at the TSA security checkpoint it would seem that the rich and frequent flier as well as the traveler in coach would be faced with the same security screening. Not so. If the airline frequent flier is traveling through one of the airports now running TSA’s PreCheck program, they can go through security without taking off their coat or their shoes or taking their laptops out of their briefcases. In the meantime, the unwashed masses are faced with shuffling, barefooted or in stocking feet, through whole-body scanners and having their luggage pawed through.

How did this happen? What happened to the old TSA motto, “On our side of the line, everybody is equal.” It was sacrificed by TSA to the airlines in order to get the special security lines. The airlines bargained with TSA to allow their frequent fliers to become automatic members of PreCheck based on their elite status. Hence, these PreCheck-passengers get a faster security line and a totally different, non-invasive security check. (Of course, TSA claims that PreCheck members are subject to random full-body scans, luggage checks and explosives screening.)

What about the rest of the traveling world that is not an elite member of the airline frequent flier program of the airline they are flying on that day? They are sore out of luck, unless they want to pay Customs and Border Protection (CBP) some moolah — about $100 — and go through a real background investigation. The CBP’s Trusted Traveler programs (Global Entry, SENTRI, NEXUS) all qualify automatically for TSA’s PreCheck program.

And there is more.

Elite fliers do not have to pay baggage charges. Elite passengers do not have to pay many change fees. Elite passengers do not pay seat reservation fees, for the most part. Elite travelers sit in quiet lounges with free WiFi, drinks and snacks.

America’s airline travelers already have a bad taste in their mouths without this in-your-face elitism that the airlines (and now our government) practice. The lists in the paragraph before this are for the most part unseen by the common traveler. It is when the total difference in service is flaunted that the proletariat really feels second class.

Security checks are onerous and arbitrary. Airline tickets are filled with fees that the airlines make difficult to find and that they can not purchase at every point where airlines sell tickets. Customer service hassles abound when the airlines are more interested in hiding passenger rights than educating the flying public.

Is it any wonder that the common airline traveler begins to feel mistreated when he should be fill with wonder at being able to soar from one coast to the other in five or six hours. The airlines that once marketed sweat dreams are turning them sour.

Does anyone else out there feel the gulf between customer services for first and business class passengers and rest of us seems to be getting bigger and bigger?

Photos: Title shot — Qantas 380, Courtesy Qantas, American Airlines lay flat seats, elite security line from Reuters/Salon.

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  • stevenhernandez31

    These airlines seems much uncomfortable for many passengers. It was survey, that it was much disturbed. They must imply the feedback even after a new surveys.

  • Anonymous

    Did you notice the difference in what these people are paying for their seats compared to what you and I pay? I should hope that if you pay 5-20 times more to get to the same place you would get some perks. What’s the point of the article?

  • Anonymous

    If I provide annual revenue of $10,000 or more to an airline, am I not entitled to some amenities? Or should I be treated to the same service as a $250 fare once-a-year customer?

    If you carry balances of over $100,000 in a bank, or spend more than $50K for a new car, or buy skybox seats at a stadium, shouldn’t you expect more and get it? Even demand it?

    As for TSA, everyone complains about lines being long and taking too long. So TSA and the airlines devise a plan whereby experienced flyers who take perhaps dozens of flights a year get a special line and an expedited check. Now you complain that these experienced flyers who have traveled tens of thousands of air miles are not worthy of expedited treatment? They should wait behind a family of five who make once a year trips to grandma and have no clue about what they are to do in a security line?

    There is a large gulf between irrational segregation, and logical separation based on experience in flying security matters and value as a customer of a private company.

  • Not feeling entitled

    So if someone can afford steak at a resturant, Ithey are only allowed to order hamburger because the guy next to them can only afford hamburger?

  • seriously?

    Guys, it’s the airline business. The flight will be miserable no matter what you pay. While we watch the first class tickets get called ahead of us and board, those of us in coach are often saying <> Truth is, frequent travelers will do anything to avoid taking a plane — though many times, of course, you are stuck flying.

  • CharlieO

    I have no problem with Frequent Flyers get “special service”. They deserve it, flying is not a pleasure. I do have a problem with the short shift COACH passengers get though. We, the consumer, the coach passenger can change that if we want. Several months ago I suggested a few NO FLY days; one person commented and that comment was a typical silent majority remark “it wouldn’t work”. Well, it would work, If the back of the plane was empty do you think the airlines wouldn’t feel the pain. I still think it’s a good idea – pick a date 3 months from now and DON’T fly on that day; and then pick another day 2 months from that and don’t fly. Go on strike!!!
    But, I know . . . . it’s much easier to be among the “accept the bad service and move along” group than it is to stand up and fight.
    JANUARY 3, 2013 DON’T BOOK A FLIGHT FOR THAT DAY, come-on folks FIGHT BACK!!

  • Anonymous

    You really meant to say that sweet dreams have turned to sweat (already sour) dreams, didn’t you, Charlie? ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/deanstar Dean Starovasnik

    Charlier, really? Is the PreCheck line really a 1%/99% thing? First off, I’m in the 99%. Second, the line is usually a bit more “melting pot” than “affluent white men.” If the point of the TSA effort is security (and I’m not saying it is!) then why not have PreCheck access for frequent flyers. Unless they are a particularly deep mole (in which case TSA ain’t gonna find ‘em either!), if someone flies enough to earn that loyalty status, wouldn’t they have been checked enough to ensure that it is extraordinarily unlikely that they are a terrorist? Further, though PreCheck myself, I have been sent through the “regular” line at least 30% of the time when PreCheck is available. So I’m getting my junk scanned regularly, much more often than most of those you classify as “America” given the frequency of my air travel. And as for the airline lounges, at least Delta’s is not free, even to Platinum travelers. So if we hang out in them it is because we pay for the privilege (or mooch off colleagues who have!). Give me a break, Charlie. There’s no story here!

  • tareed

    When the “common” flyer pays what I do in a year you can complain. My on ticket is a lot more then theirs. Thank you to the airlines for this

  • Maui46

    Delta’s Porsche to the Plane

    Delta is now shuttling top elite’s with tight connections
    between flights on a fleet of BMWs. The “others” fend for
    themselves.
    [A Delta representative] runs them down jet-bridge stairs, loads
    them into a $66,000 Porsche Cayenne S
    Although Porsche and BMW are both German cars, they are VERY different cars

  • Anonymous

    Did Charlie not get upgraded on his last flight?
    **The common man is faced with airlines flaunting the special status of elite frequent fliers and the rich.**
    The ‘common man’ is the one who bitched about paying for luggage when he wasn’t checking any. The ‘common man’ bitched about paying for lousy airline food, so now he has to pay for it or bring it.
    The ‘common man’ only wants to get from point A to point B the cheapest way, so of course there is going to be a difference from those who are willing to pay for a better flight experience.

  • Anonymous

    This is good, Charlie. I hope enough proletarians read this blog and get mad. Maybe that will bring about the real change we are waiting for.

  • Anonymous

    What change? I was just in Europe and it is the same there.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=657857701 Peter Bell

    CharlieO: Boycotts only work on city buses (Montgomery, AL during the civil rights movement). They don’t work on airplanes. There’s too many people.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=657857701 Peter Bell

    The terrorists will just take the short search line and blow up the plane. Easy.

  • Anonymous

    First of all, Charlie, your implication that elite flyers don’t pay change fees and get free lounge access with free WiFi is FALSE. I have been one of your “1%” elite flyers on AA for the past several years, and I am not immune from change fees unless I buy a refundable ticket. Nor do I get free lounge access, unless I am flying internationally on a business class or first class ticket (in which case, I am paying $5,000+ for the privilege, so letting me in the lounge is the least they can do). Even once I’m in the Admirals Club, I have the privilege of paying $9.95 for a few hours of WiFi.

    Second, I don’t get your criticism of PreCheck. You guys constantly harangue the TSA for subjecting everyone to their nonsensical security theater. For once, TSA does something that actually makes some sense – it is a valid argument that very frequent travelers pose less threat to the system, because they’re a known quantity – and you complain because the 99% don’t get to play. And by the way, it is yet another FALSE statement that frequent fliers that use PreCheck are exempt from the porno scanners. The TSA even advertises a disclaimer that you can still be pulled aside for either secondary screening or the porno scanners.

  • Anonymous

    The change we can believe in. You know like the one promised about 4 years ago. I’m still waiting :-)

  • Anonymous

    Charlie, why not change the tax code (and accounting rules) so as to make airline tickets not deductible at all. And while you are at it, tax the higher classes as luxury. I suspect majority of the high flyers get to deduct their flying as business expenses while the proletarians pay their tickets with after tax money. I bet you will piss off so many in Washington.

  • Anonymous

    Charlie, why not change the tax code (and accounting rules) so as to make airline tickets not deductible at all. And while you are at it, tax the higher classes as luxury. I suspect majority of the high flyers get to deduct their flying as business expenses while the proletarians pay their tickets with after tax money. I bet you will piss off so many in Washington.

  • DCTA

    Oh come on! Do you cry because someone else bought box seats at the Opera and you couldn’t? Floor seats at a rock concert while you’re in the stands? I tend to buy the Club seating for the Nats game and pay over $50 for a ticket while others pay $6. Is it class warfare when I buy a Scion and my neighbor buys a Bentley? Please! SO WHAT! If you want to pay for these extra perks and services, do!

    So they don’t pay fees for their bags or changing flights – they already paid that cost when they paid an exorbitant fare. Those “elites” and first class fliers are subsidizing everyone else! It’s kind of a “redistribution”, Charlie.

  • madtad1

    Charlie, I am really disappointed in this “news article”. It sounds like something written by the Occupy Movement, not you and your normally well-reasoned articles. Was your account hacked, perhaps? This sounds like it was written by a whiney, 24 year old grad student, living in his parent’s basement while working on his Liberal Arts Masters.
    My wife travels 165,000+ ACTUAL miles a year for her job. I fly maybe 10% of that, mostly for leisure. Yet, we both have the GlobalEntry/TrustedTraveler card. Oh, and for my $100 card, I get to take the short PreCheck line at the airport too…Ooooo, I’m now Hoi Paloi!!
    Frankly, Charlie, this whole article reeks of envy, and, frankly, that’s not newsworthy. You should be embarressed.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think anyone is objecting to those who can afford steak getting it. But if airlines were restaurants, it would be more like offering a steak and lobster menu at spacious private tables for two for those who can afford it, and some dry bread and half a soft drink with six people crammed at a table designed to only seat four for those who can’t.

    And the entire restaurant comparison fails because in the United States, there are restaurants at every price point, from a 99-cent hamburger at McDonald’s to a $270 meal (with $105 in “supplements”, plus water at $30/liter or wine at whatever price the vintage bears) at the French Laundry, and probably a lot higher. There are only a handful of domestic airlines and most offer only these two levels of service, and for a large number of people in some fairly large urban areas, the “dinosaur” two-class airlines are the only available choice.

  • Anonymous

    The problem isn’t that the elite get showered with extras; it’s that the rest of the people get nickled and dimed to death. I daresay with luggage fees, seating fees, and all the other “fees” that have been cooked up in the last few years – all of which involve zero cost to the airline – a lot of those coach passengers are contributing more to the airline’s bottom line than some of the so-called elite. People who fly constantly paying for coach fares (ie, low-margin) are among those who end up with elite status on the basis of frequency of flights; those are the same people least likely to pay baggage fees. At one time, they were even fairly likely to get free or cheap upgrades to first class, though I realize that’s dropped off because the airlines would rather sell the upgrades for a nice markup.

    I also have no real problem with a TSA line for the elite, as long as it doesn’t really compromise the rest of the lines. Add a line, yes. Take one a way from the masses (backing them up even further) to get that line, no.

    And if the real problem is first-time fliers who don’t know what to do, how about diving the rest of people into two groups: those who’ve flown at least three or four times with the airline (they’re almost certain to have a FF number) and can be counted on to know the drill – and put them in lines that move faster. Airlines could easily do this on the boarding pass. Send the first-timers and novices into another group of lines that has one or two extra people up front to answer questions and provide guidance.

  • Anonymous

    Except that quite often they DON’T pay those fees. Very frequent fliers usually travel with carry-on luggage only, precisely to avoid having to wait to pick up luggage. I know cheap/free upgrades for frequent fliers are not as common as they used to be, but you can get to elite status by buying lots of lower-priced advance-purchase tickets, each of which contributes only marginally, if at all, to an airline’s bottom line. (If it’s true that airlines lose money on their cheaper coach fares, then whether that fare is paid by a once a year traveler or an air warrior who flies every week, it’s still a net loss to the company. In fact, if he frequently uses such fares, he can become “elite” while costing the airline gobs of money flying dozens of money-losing fares.

  • Anonymous

    What specifically are you fighting for? What are your demands? What specifically do you hope to achieve? You can’t get hundreds of thousands of people to line up with you on behalf of fighting a generic “bad service.” That’s why it won’t work. And lots of people have to get home after the New Year holidays and will be glad to take your seat if you don’t fly that day.

  • Anonymous

    How does luggage service represent zero cost to the airline?

  • Chris B

    Charlie, I fly about 100 times a year. That does not get me into the top tier that you are whining about. It is more like 99.9% vs .01%, and I for one do not begrudge them.
    CB

  • Anonymous

    OK, not “zero”. A tiny fraction of whatever the fee charged is. The difference in fuel to fly a plane with one extra piece of luggage is about as close to zero as it gets. Given that the standard limit on a piece is 50 lbs, a single overweight passenger can add more to the cost of a flight than that piece of luggage.

  • http://www.facebook.com/hulda.andersson.9 Hulda Andersson

    Somebody should be copy-editing their work. Anyway, this is EXACTLY why I don’t fly. I won’t pay to be abused.

  • http://www.facebook.com/hulda.andersson.9 Hulda Andersson

    You’re implying that it’s okay to mistreat people with less money. And like me, that won’t fly. It’s not a matter of some people getting perks, it’s about most people being crapped on.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OEPJGQPIEB75YYDE5CJY6R3VFE Carver Clark Farrow II

    I’ve been at private restaurants where you can pay for private dining rooms if you prefer a special dining experience. I do agree with you that discussing what elites get is a red herring. The real issue is whether people in coach are getting a fair deal.
    I also agree that what makes air travel unfortunate is that there are so few levels of service. In the rest of the travel world, there are numerous price points and infinitely more competition.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OEPJGQPIEB75YYDE5CJY6R3VFE Carver Clark Farrow II

    No, he’s not saying or implying that at all. He’s articulatin the reality that not all customers have the same value to a business and that more valuable customers will receive better service. That does not in any way shape or form imply that less valuable customers should be mistreated.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OEPJGQPIEB75YYDE5CJY6R3VFE Carver Clark Farrow II

    +1

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OEPJGQPIEB75YYDE5CJY6R3VFE Carver Clark Farrow II

    Agreed. The reason why boycotts work on City buses and not airplanes is slightly different. City busses get their revenue primarily from repeat business. For example, I used to take the bus to work every day. That’s five round trips per week. Thus when there is a boycott, the bus actually loses revenue because I made fewer trips on the bus.
    By comparison, the so-called no fly day is meaningless. The vast majority of fliers aren’t foregoing their flights, but would merely be changing the flight day. While the disruption in the predicted models a pain for the airlines, the revenue loss as a percentage of revenue would be substantially less than for a business with primarily regularly repeating clients such as a city bus.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Karen-Kinnane/1058152521 Karen Kinnane

    The cost difference between first class and steerage on international flights is staggering (to me.) The people who pay for first class treatment ought to receive it. In steerage we get dirt cheap transportation to places which we could not drive in a car, so I have no complaints about getting less when I pay less. I still get to my international destination and the price, compared to the price of flying 30-40 years ago, is a bargain. Also the short TSA line isn’t all “old white Americans”, THAT’S CONGRESS. The TSA line often has non white and non male occupants.

  • Sandy from PSL

    Another example of the 99% vs the 1%. Money talks. Rich vs poor. Take your pick. However, should there be some type of disaster on the plane (may it never happen ever again) everyone on the plane is equal.

  • http://www.tripso.com/author/leocha Charlie Leocha

    Quite the contrary. During a crash, the tables are turned.
    Just saved this for next weekend’s Sunday Musings.
    Charlie

  • Officeinthesky

    I want a gulf. I fly at least 2 – 3 times a week, roughly 50 weeks out of the year. I spend a minimum of $125k/year with United. I work in those “quiet lounges” for “Elite travelers” or I’m working on those 3 – 4 hour hops across country. The airlines are smart to tailor services to those who live the “Up in the Air” lifestyle. If an airline doesn’t treat me special, then I switch. The special treatment, the shuttle by Porsche (not a United perk btw), the lounges, the customer service perks, makes spending that much time in airports and on planes palatable.
    With all the perks you mention, you forget too mention what the “Elites” sacrifice. My job requires travel. I wish it didn’t, but it does. I and many other “Elites” sacrifice time with our family. We live hotels. We are usually that guy/gal sitting alone in a restaurant with our phone out playing “Words with Friends” with a spouse thousands of miles away. The few perks you mention are paid for with more than just money and again those “Elite” perks just slightly make the travel tolerable. Like you, I want to do my job and the airlines have developed an “Elite” experience that helps me do that. Please keep those that fly less than 20 – 30 times a year somewhere else. Another terminal sounds fantastic. Also, I can only speak for myself, but I’d say most of us “Elites” don’t look at those in the back of the plane or not in the special security lines as the “hoi-polloi”. We look at you with envy. We want to travel less. We want to be home with our families, but until better economic times occur, there’s no additional staff to lighten the load.

  • Officeinthesky

    I want a gulf. I fly at least 2 – 3 times a week, roughly 50 weeks out of the year. I spend a minimum of $125k/year with United. I work in those “quiet lounges” for “Elite travelers” or I’m working on those 3 – 4 hour hops across country. The airlines are smart to tailor services to those who live the “Up in the Air” lifestyle. If an airline doesn’t treat me special, then I switch. The special treatment, the shuttle by Porsche (not a United perk btw), the lounges, the customer service perks, makes spending that much time in airports and on planes palatable.
    With all the perks you mention, you forget too mention what the “Elites” sacrifice. My job requires travel. I wish it didn’t, but it does. I and many other “Elites” sacrifice time with our family. We live hotels. We are usually that guy/gal sitting alone in a restaurant with our phone out playing “Words with Friends” with a spouse thousands of miles away. The few perks you mention are paid for with more than just money and again those “Elite” perks just slightly make the travel tolerable. Like you, I want to do my job and the airlines have developed an “Elite” experience that helps me do that. Please keep those that fly less than 20 – 30 times a year somewhere else. Another terminal sounds fantastic. Also, I can only speak for myself, but I’d say most of us “Elites” don’t look at those in the back of the plane or not in the special security lines as the “hoi-polloi”. We look at you with envy. We want to travel less. We want to be home with our families, but until better economic times occur, there’s no additional staff to lighten the load.

  • Anonymous

    Full disclosure: My husband is a Delta Gold Medallion holder, so we’ve been flying with moderate perkitude for several years. It’s not that we’re overly fond of Delta, it’s just that our closest airport is MSP, so the flights with the best times and connections to our destinations are frequently with Delta.

    Charlie – did you see this article from the NYT, published this past June? Some of the traditional perks to frequent flyers are definitely less perkier than they used to be.

    http://travel.nytimes.com/2012/06/10/travel/have-elite-fliers-been-downgraded.html

    It should also be noted – the “elite” lounges are actually available to anyone with most domestic carriers. Some First Class flyers have access but not all – depending upon how you got the ticket, you still may have to be a member or pay for a temporary pass. Being a Medallion member on Delta does not automatically enroll you in the club, but it does reduce the cost of membership the higher up the scale you go. (And if you have miles, you can swap those in – for those who travel extensively, this is easier to do.)

    For Delta, you can buy short-term passes – a single day pass, or a 30-day pass if you know you’re going to be traveling for a bit. As a result The club is certainly less quiet than it used to be in years past as more people have discovered they can buy the short-term passes. (For me, the food, drinks, comfy chairs and WiFi are nice – I like the short lines for the clean bathrooms and dedicated agents who can help with flight schedule adjustment in emergencies.)

    Also, we flew first-class this past weekend out of MSP. (We don’t always, but the flights were on CRJ’s, I currently have to use a cane, and we paid for our hotel with loyalty points, so we splurged for the leg room and perks.) The PreCheck/Priority security line was equally long as the regular line it fed into. And was, in fact, culturally diverse and pretty equal gender-wise in its’ makeup.

    I do think airlines should focus on broader customer service across the board. This is particularly clear to me when I fly without my husband and all of his perks – the differences in the customer service levels I receive are distinct and noticeable. But if you are concerned with being treated equal as everyone on the plane, you have options when flying domestically. It’s why LCC’s thrive. But if you fly as part of your business day or pay for business or first class, I don’t see a problem with airlines giving you perks. (Though, yeah, the Porsche ride does seem a little excessive.) They need to find a way to not treat the less frequent travelers like utter garbage though. The airline that figures that out will become popular, I believe.

  • AXW

    The airlines could take a hint from Bangkok Airlines: they provide a lounge – albeit a fairly spartan one – for ALL their passengers. Free juice, snacks, newspapers and internet access. And a quiet place in a noisy airport. Well worth paying a little extra for; which isn’t even always needed. Unfortunately they do not serve the US.
    Don’t hold your breath ’til the American airlines pick up this service.

  • mjhooper

    I traveled upper class a few years ago. I paid plenty for tickets for two of us so my companion would not end up with blood clots on an international flight. It was worth every penny and will never happen again, I can be sure. But my money bought us champagne, dinner with a white tablecloth and wine, great food at the lounges, a flat bed to sleep on, and even a shower with real soap and real towels on arrival at our destination. Next lifetime (LOL), I plan to be one of the 1% and do it again. Recently I had to fly for a family matter, though I’d vowed not to fly ever again. The ticket was so cheap i couldn’t believe it. No wonder the seats in steerage are small, the food inedible short of having a cast iron constitution, and the drinks cost $$. Even the Titanic had first class and other. Get over it, Charlie. From your friend in the 99%.

  • James Penrose

    “The long line looks like America; the short line is made up mostly of affluent white men.”

    I’ll bet in Dubai it is wealthy Arab men and in South America it is wealthy Latino-looking men and in China..you get the idea.

    Them as has the bucks gets the clucks. I’ve flown Business internationally on upgrades. Far too expensive for what you actually get to shell out the cash, You could just about buy an entire row in cattle car class and still have money left over.

    I love traveling in Business, it is a world apart but not an 800 to 1200% more value.

    I’d pay 50% more for 50% more value but airlines just don’t offer it. Even the “more legroom” thing is only a couple of inches on most places.

    Even 32″ is mostly gone in coach since they figured out they could squeeze in one more row if they took the already minimal padding in the seats out and put in something even thinner.

    I don’t even *want* think of what it is like on those ultra-low cost European and Asian flights where they pretty much charge you for the toilet.

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  • JammerMan79

    I just read your article and cannot imagine if it could possibly be more ridiculous. Have you looked at how much a business class or first class ticket costs compared to coach? You’re damn right you should get extra perks with that.
    With any company you deal with.. the better a customer you are, the better the level of service or perks you will receive. It could be as simple as the barista remembering your name or getting a free upgrade in a hotel that you frequent… or if you spend $1000′s a month on airfare a ride between terminals and free booze.
    You should seriously consider yourself lucky if this is all you have to complain about.

  • Max Koacher

    Logical? You make me want to puke.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the cogent comment. It lends a lot to the discussion.

  • JCNow

    Airlines have a monopoly. Competition cannot readily enter the market because the start-up costs for an airline are prohibitive. What you are seeing is nothing more than free market capitalism at work in a monopolistic environment. And there are those who feel the different treatment is justified, based upon the power of the almighty dollar. This is only going to get worse. As inequality increases between the haves and the have-nots, economy class passengers will be crowded into cattle cars while “elite” class will be given the extra space. The separate entrances are no surprise whatsoever. For example a medical group in New York has established two separate entrances to its clinic with separate waiting rooms. The wealthy patient walks into a plush waiting room where there may be two or three other patients waiting, is shown into a luxurious consulting room with leather covered tables, and is given a thick soft bathrobe to wear during the examination. The other patients enter into a crowded waiting room, and are given paper gowns. One wonders where this division will end.

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  • JCNow

    The airline industry couldn’t operate without the blessings of the government by way of security, funds for airports. That’s a big difference from your local hamburger stand, isn’t it?

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