Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Flying cowboy class

"Classy" airplane seating sets sail under many flags - business class, first class, executive class - but it all boils down to comfy. What isn't so hot, you would think, is having all the cattle-class schlubs parade by on their way to the back of the plane. Unless your goal in sitting up there is to feel superior, I suppose.

It seems to me that the airlines, hoping to lavish their higher-paying customers with goodies to ease the pain of flying, figure they've pulled off a clever twofer: Seat the first class folks first so they can have a treat, but also so they can act as a living, breathing advertisement for flying in the front of the plane.

Well, I don't want to spend big bucks to be a free ad, and if I'm about to sit for a few hours in a tin can, I'm not too keen on sitting down right now. So how about giving me a lounge where I can enjoy those drinks standing up and letting me get on last?

Of course, some airlines just buy planes that put the passengers on in the middle of the craft and segregate them at the door. That's a good solution, but not if you're stuck with a bunch of old planes...

I'm reminded of all these things by a recent flight, and also by the news that Southwest Airlines is edging away from its festival (dog-eat-dog) seating of aircraft. Although their news release pays lip service to efficiency and other rubbish, I think the real deal is in this poorly written sentence:

"Southwest also has said it would consider Customer Satisfaction enhancements, like assigned seating, if such a move would attract new Customers and maintain or improve overall operational efficiencies."

When you start capitalizing things like Satisfaction, it is a short trip to capitalizing on things like satisfaction.

The irony here is that Southwest highlights its "enviable" successes in the same statement. Those successes would be, obviously, in comparison to the performance of other, more class-conscious carriers that are always on the brink of bankruptcy.

Strange and mysterious.


Rich said...

Yes, you might feel like you are paying to be a free advertisement, but after you take off they pull that little "privacy curtain" to divide first class and common class. Why? I guess so that those the in the front of the plane don't have to see the back.

As to Southwest . . . living in a SW hub, I enjoy feeling like a cow getting on a truck when they throw open the door to allow us to board. Maybe SW is jealous of the other airlines since they keep getting free money to be bailed out trying to implement such winning ideas as paying for airline snacks and paying for reserved seating.

Daphne said...

I dunno I rather like staying up until the clock strikes midnight the night before my flight so I can be in Section A seating.... It adds an element of heartpounding excitement to air travel... America thrives on competition, nice guys finish last...there's nothing like shoving an old lady out of the way on the jetway so I can get to the cabin first to enjoy my complementary bag of three peanuts :oP

Kinda reminds me of riding the DC Metro System!