How airlines treat the one-percenters


I think what they mean to say is that airlines are now back to treating one-percenters like they used to:


Here’s the end of the article, as I think it provides a bit of a coda to the intervening six pages.

Towards the end of my week in London, I briefly put my journalistic conscience on standby and didn’t object when a publicist asked me if she could see about getting me a better seat for the flight home, and I was given a “space available” upgrade.

When I checked in at the airport, though, the ticket agent laughed, and told me to forget it. There were two empty seats in business class, she said, but the line ahead of me was long. “Employees get space-available upgrades too,” she said, “but in the new planes there’s never space for us.” Even on flights in which economy was half empty, she said, first was always full and business was oversubscribed. I resigned myself to my 31 inch pitch and once the plane was in the air, sought comfort in the thought that my seat’s entertainment system had cost more, by several thousand dollars, than all the video and audio equipment in my house. I closed my eyes occasionally when the book I was reading got boring but I kept my seat back in its fully upright position for the entire flight out of respect for the guy squeezed in behind me and I’m pretty sure I never slept.


I’ve been fortunate enough to have had a similar experience on several occasions. I agree there is a wold of difference between the airline classes, but remember when discussing the 1%, many of 1% would never be caught dead traveling on shabby commercial airlines, they often have their own private jets. The difference is even greater then you imagine.

The times I’ve flown internationally in Business and First class. First class is even more luxurious. These have been very enjoyable experiences, huge fully reclining seats, great food, personal movie players with huge selections, unlimited booze, even complimentary socks and eye mask. I couldn’t touch the seat in front of me even if I stretch my legs as far as they could go. Ever need attended to right away and with a smile. I always arrived wherever I was traveling calm and refreshed, ready to go. The private lounges, a separate line with no waiting for check-in, and treatment at the airports was vastly different as well.

The times I’ve flown internationally in coach were the exact opposite experience. Small, cramped, over-crowded seats with limited ability to recline. Very limited food/snacks/drinks. Almost impossible to get any service from the airline staff. I felt more like a package in transport then a passenger. I always arrived frazzled and exhausted and had to crash and sleep off the travel experience.

The experiences couldn’t be more different. Of course this obvious gap doesn’t just pertain to flying, it also pertains to health care, hotels, restaurants, law enforcement, the list is virtually endless. The rich live an entirely different life then the rest of us. Of course this isn’t really discussing how many of the 1%'s travel, they are in an entirely different class, many of them travel in their own private jets. You think commercial airline business class is luxurious, check out first class, you think first class is luxurious then fly on a private jet. Having your own private jet is a world apart and so far beyond anything on a commercial airline that it isn’t even in the same category.


I’m not sure what’s new here - Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous was reporting all this back in the 80’s.

Now what would be interesting is an article on how the TSA treats the 1%. Wasn’t Bin Laden a 1%er?


We need an article on getting the airlines to treat the rest of us like human beings, rather than cattle.


It’s pretty simple: buy more expensive plane tickets.

Airlines are in this weird situation where it’s horribly expensive to keep a plane in the air, and yet everyone expects using it to cost pennies.


It’s easy: pay as much as those flying first class, business class, or the regulated airfares before 1978.


Saying may of the 1% own their own jets is like saying many of the 99% sleep under bridges. Both may be true, but it’s a very small percentage of each.


Through no fault (or success) of my own, I once got bumped to First Class on a China Air flight from DC to Beijing.

Talk about posh. For example, the flight attendants would walk even around and ask you if you wanted them to put slippers on your feet. Fresh fruits and snacks set up on a table…

… can’t imagine actually paying that much for a plane ticket, though.

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I think your math is pretty far off, or you’re using some kind of non-literal interpretation of “1%”. There’s no way that a 99th-percentile income (single filer ~$150k/yr) affords flying private. That kind of income can barely afford to fly first class commercial, depending on how often flying.

The income curve doesn’t really start to hockey-stick until 99.9%. 90% of people in the 1% would not describe themselves as rich. Unfortunately I don’t think “1-per-mil-er” is going to catch on any time soon.


Yes, how dare you filthy proles complain when you didn’t have the foresight to be born wealthy! Ignoramuses! Do you think the air travel system that your income tax so heavily subsidizes is designed to serve those that actually have to work for their income? What arrant nonsense! THIS IS AMERICA!

You know, we wouldn’t have these problems if we didn’t keep pretending you underpeople are human. Really, only the top 20% are even marginally human, although the top 1% are clearly superhuman. Mere taxpayers should be proud to pay for the luxuries of their betters, and our pretense of egalitarianism only hurts their sad little egos in the end.


I kept my seat back in its fully upright position for the entire flight out of respect for the guy squeezed in behind me

Seriously. How do we convince the rest of America to abide by this basic show of human decency? I never recline the seat for this very reason. The last time someone reclined onto me the lady got all huffy about me putting my knees into her back. I’m like, “Ma’am, I am 5 foot 10. You put your back into my knees.”


It’s an article on how airplane interiors are designed and manufactured. The first few paragraphs were only a teaser (to entice those who have already subscribed to turn the page-- not necessarily to get non subscribers to subscribe).

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How can I put this delicately…screw the super-rich, and those who pander to them.


i agree that most of the 1% are not rich enough to own their own personal private jets, but you are also forgetting the large number of corporations that own private jets for use by their corporate executives which accounts for a vast number of the private jets in service to day, the second largest group of private jets in service today is chartered private jets. So you are excluding the 2 largest groups of private jets usage in your assessment, neither of which requires the personal capital of owning ones own jet. The 2 years i went to boarding school because my dad was a teacher there (only poor kid among the children of the wealthy), our family was the only one in my class that didn’t own at least one jet, this was in the early 90’s when jets cost relatively more and the wealth gap was smaller.

So while I’ll concede that of course that not all the 1% flies private, or even the majority, I also remind you that I never said the majority I merely said “many” which is completely accurate. The numbers are much higher then you realize, especially when you factor in the two largest groups of private jet usage, corporate and charter… Besides, that wasn’t the point i was making, i was pointing out that the gap gets much much much greater then first to coach. I can always count on comment police to pick the details while missing the points.


Is there any way of buying this single issue or article? Sounds very interesting but I’m not a subscriber…

Flown internationally on business class quite a few times, first class once. Never when I was paying, natch. Have been on private jets a few times, but only for work (and only on the ground, which doesn’t really count :smile:)

You get what you pay for. Yes, it’s much nicer, but it’s way more expensive. Personally, I find economy plus enough of an upgrade. The attendants are nicer and give you more booze, and you have a little more room. Since I’m a shortarse, leg room has never been an issue for me even on airlines like Ryanair.

Fold flat seats are awesome though. Getting nicely drunk on champagne, cocktails, good wine and brandy, then sleeping the rest of the way can’t be beat.

ETA: I will NEVER recline a seat in Economy, and if the person in front of me does, I won’t make much effort to get my knees out of their back (assuming I can reach - see above). What I don’t understand are the people who can’t stand up without levering themselves up using the seat in front of them, or can’t walk to the back of the plane without using every single seat on the way to hold themselves up.

Also - why is it that even when we have priority boarding, there’s always someone in our row first, and our overhead locker is full when the rest of the plane is empty?


I used to feel the same way, I’ve spent several flights trying to mentally shame the person in front of me to stop reclining. In the end all I got was a sore back. People who feel no natural shame in reclining won’t stop. All we stand to win is our own sense of righteousness. It may be better to just give in and recline when you need to.

On an unrelated note inflatable neck pillows and eye masks are a must for economy seats.


If you’re a flightless human being (and you are) and you’re flying in a plane (and, historically speaking, you’re likely not; even relative to all folks now living, if you’re in a plane or can afford to travel in one, you’re in a minority [I think]), then you’ve already won the one-percent lottery. Reclining seats and the rest are gravy if you’re reaping the benefits of magical dinosaur petroleum fuel that rockets you through the skies. /Louis C. K.-ish ranticle