"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.