I’ve never been lucky enough to get upgraded to first class and, let’s be honest, I’m not in a position to fork over thousands of dollars for a flight. But I’ve heard the fantastic tales of seats that convert to beds, steaks served on fine china and never-ending champagne cocktails. I’ve always had a picture in my mind of first class being like those old airline ads, when people dressed in pillbox hats and furs, and flying on an airplane was a formal, once-in-a-lifetime experience.
So when I saw this NBCNews.com story, I was intrigued. And as interesting as some of the details were, a question nagged at me. Is it right to be making such a distinction between your paying customers?
Don’t get me wrong; I understand the concept of “you get what you pay for.” And if people are willing and able to shell out $15,000 for a plane ticket then they should absolutely enjoy the perks that come with it. And from the article, those perks sound pretty sweet. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be ferried to their plane in a luxury car or be able to spend their time waiting in a private lounge with hors d’oeuvres and a bar? I don’t blame airlines for wanting to cater to every whim of their highest-paying customers. I guess it’s not so much the way the first class passengers are treated as it is about the experience of those of us in coach.
With the exception of a random sale, plane tickets are not cheap. They’re not cheap in first class and they’re not cheap in coach. Now, if I’m paying coach prices I don’t expect to be pampered with caviar and free slippers, but it would be nice not to be crammed into a too-small seat with no leg room (I’m short and I still get cramped legs, so I don’t know how you tall folks do it).
I’m going to date myself here (and sound like a grumpy old person) but I remember when you used to get to watch a movie on a plane for free. That’s right, no swiping a credit card required. And believe me, when you’re on a four-hour (or longer) flight, the magazines you brought get old really quickly.
I understand that airlines aren’t going to restructure the seating arrangement on planes, since more bodies equal more money for them. And like I said before, I don’t expect to get all the extras that come with paying first class fares. I guess I just wish the coach experience was a little more pleasant, a little more comfortable and a lot less stressful. Those relaxing things you put into place for your first class passengers? Well, the folks in coach are stressed, too, so how about a little love this way? I guess I wish airlines would put as much thought and care into the experience of all their passengers, from the front of the plane all the way to the back.
Should First Class passengers be treated differently?
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