Some airlines won’t serve alcohol to coach passengers, because the people flying today behave badly on board. Sure, they’ve been behaving badly while not being served alcohol but somehow there’s a link being drawn, or a fear that behavior would get even worse.
I’ve written that “all airline passengers are Spirit Airlines passengers now” with business travel still down about 75% compared to pre-pandemic levels. But Spirit Airlines has long sold alcohol on board. In fact their inflight drink menu even pitches, “Why Not? You’re on vacation.”
This generates a picture that borders on the Dickensian. Back in coach, low-born, vulgar ruffians pause their brawling to menace flight attendants with their brass knuckles and truncheons. Meanwhile, up in first class, the finer sorts of passengers are writing haikus or genteelly using their personal regurgitorium to make room for more of the pan-seared sirloin.
Never mind that domestic first class hardly means “pan-seared sirloin” or that the truly wealthy are more likely flying private than getting an upgrade to a seat with 36 inch pitch (in pre-pandemic times domestic first class was the province of middle to upper-middle class business travelers).
And they accept the possibility that first class passengers might be less likely to get into mask confrontations or less prone towards drunken assaults. However they argue otherwise,
- That a 2016 study found the resentment of coach passengers was fueled by boarding via the aircraft’s forward door and walking back through coach.
- Another study found “wealthier individuals are more likely to display unethical behavior” however this talks about whether they stop at crosswalks, not whether they attack flight attendants or refuse to wear masks.
Of course the 2016 study does nothing to show coach passengers are more prone towards drunken rage because they’ve walked through first class, and even if they were, to the extent airlines are banning alcohol in back that would be support for the policy unless they’re able to shift which boarding door they use. And the 2016 study didn’t suggest that seeing passengers drinking predeparture beverages was key to their rage.
Moreover the 2016 study literally couldn’t have accounted for either anger at mask policies that run counter to,
- the low virus prevalence in the U.S. currently
- the relative safety of the aircraft cabin combined to other indoor congregant settings like bars and gyms, thanks to HEPA air filtration and downward air flow
- the availability of vaccines in the United States, such that anyone 12 years old or older who wants one can get one – hence little need to protect those who choose not to get vaccinated
- CDC guidance that in other indoor settings those who are vaccinated do not need to wear a mask
The study also predates the politicization of masks as well as the events of January 6th. In other words the piece sheds little light on current events even as it seeks to stoke the flames of class warfare.
First class comes at a higher price point than coach and comes bundled with additional services, including drink service. The irony of course is that the difference between first class and coach really shrunk throughout the pandemic.
Meal service hasn’t returned in earnest to most domestic flights up front, with packaged cold items the norm on many domestic flights – and even that was an improvement over what airlines had been serving. In other words, first class passengers saw more cost cuts than those who were just buying transportation. There’s ‘an aviation angle’ to the axe any writer has to grind. But it’s almost always wrong.
(HT: Tommy L.)