The skies are friendly; the passengers are not

Why not first?

Tue, 2008/11/18 - 19:09 by aargh

Based on my last ramble, some of you may ask the simple question: if flying is such a necessary evil in my world, why not just upgrade to first class?

You may as well ask a prisoner why they don't opt for solitary. It's still the same ride, regardless of the change of venue. First class neither arrives faster nor gets less of the turbulence, and when it all hits the fan it's not as though the cabin crew passes out parachutes to the suited set in front.

I will grant you, first is certainly nicer than coach. The airlines aren't exactly shy about pointing this out. (Have you noticed? In many aircraft, you have to pass through first on your way to cattle class. That's not by accident.) There's no such thing as the middle seat. The food is better. -and I'll be damned if the flight attendants aren't nicer and more attractive, which certainly helps when they break out into musical numbers. I know this not because I'm a regular in l'Espace Posh, but because they leave the curtains open so the rest of us can see the whole thing from our four-degree seat reclines.

Well, at least, that's how it works sometimes. Not all first-class voyages are made equal.

To start, some airplanes don't even have a "first class" section. The front cabin is so shoddy that the airline simply calls it "business" to lower your expectations. Seats range from the Emirates Air digital-and-mahogany coccoon to the MD-80 leather recliner with builtin backache technology. (Please don't try this out yourself. At least not on your own dime.) Then there's the food: AA has been a treat, but to be honest it's not that far from my recollections of Air France's coach cuisine. Boeuf Bourguignon, anyone?

Let's not forget the people. You're practically falling over jerks in coach, this is true. But those people are prone to animal behaviour because of their reduced circumstances, it's understandable. First class, on the other hand, has its own breed of bad taste called The Salesman. When they're not barking "sales forcasts" and "profit margins" and "managing client expectations" into their mobile phones, they're trying to get cute with the flight attendants. -or worse yet, with you. I think I'd prefer the courtesy of a feral cat.

Given that, it's tough to see why the airlines charge more for first. No thank you, I'll take coach. At least there, my lower back pains take my mind off the voyage.