Nationalist Writer Goes After United Airlines For Offering… Too Much Comfort

British writer Raheem Kassam is the kind of conservative who hates business and free markets, preferring to ‘own the libs’ and take control of government to enforce the values he prefers. He’s hosted a podcast with Steve Bannon, ran Breitbart News London and when he ran for leader of pro-Brexit UK party UKIP he supported lifting their ban on white nationalist parties. He’s also anti-vaccine.

And now he’s going after United Airlines for offering more comfortable seats. I know bashing the airlines is populist gold (Cf. Ed Markey, Richard Blumenthal) but usually the complaint is about squeezing seat size rather than offering more seats with extra room.

It may seem normal to complain about ‘air travel haves’ versus ‘have nots’ but the complaint here is literally that United is creating more haves on their planes by offering more seats with more room. And to do so he’s dragged up a two year old pre-pandemic article about completing the airline’s new business class Polaris retrofits – a seat that was less luxurious than what American and Delta offered when it was first announced in 2016. He misses the opportunity to talk about United’s addition of premium seats to Airbus narrowbodies or its premium-heavy CRJ-550 regional jets.

Adding premium seats makes those seats more accessible, available to more people.

  • An increased quantity of premium seats supplied should bring down their price
  • And if it doesn’t that likely means more empty premium sea5s – available for upgrade and cheap buy ups (elite status is not the province of the wealthy but more middle class professionals)

United has ordered hundreds of new domestic aircraft that will include seat back entertainment for everybody, arguable lifting the travel experience for all passengers. And remember that streaming entertainment is available even to passengers buying basic economy tickets, the airline’s cheapest and most restrictive.

Does Kassam prefer a world where only Spirit, Frontier and Allegiant are permitted to exist? Those carriers are still options, along with Southwest which has been the largest carrier of domestic passengers. Here what United is doing is giving customers a choice. Say what you want about the airline for being too woke or being the first to publicly agitate for more subsidies after the CARES Act last year. But they haven’t been too profitable.

Apparently though his beef with airlines is really about (and perhaps calling out United in particular) vaccines, proving that the longer the pandemic goes on the dumber people get, like like Candace Owens defending Donald Trump for being insufficiently anti-vax.

Contra Kassam there’s actually an alternative universe in which only Republicans were willing to take Covid-19 vaccines. A number of scientists successfully pressed the FDA to throw up hurdles that delayed Pfizer’s clinical trials so that results and an Emergency Use Authorization wouldn’t come before the 2020 presidential election. Without that, Trump would have claimed credit for the successful vaccines before the election and Democrats would have argued that it was all a dirty trick, questioning vaccine safety.

Meanwhile the supposed ‘trajectory the industry’ has been any number of directions, with disgraced former United CEO Jeff Smisek leading a race to the bottom in passenger experience joined by current United CEO Scott Kirby when he was President of American Airlines and US Airways – in some measure in a drive to match costs and fares of Spirit and Frontier, which escape the commentator’s ire (as do services that make flying private less expensive, by the way).

Airlines have gone almost two years with limited food and service in premium cabins and limited lounge service for premium passengers in order to reduce costs (in the face of limited premium demand due to diminished corporate business travel) under the guise of Covid protection. The ‘industry trend’ can hardly be said to be giving more to the ‘elites’ that nationalists despise (though they themselves are among that class) and towards limiting expenses in the face of reduced revenue.

To be sure, some services are coming back. Overall though the trend has been towards giving people the products airlines believe customers are willing to pay for combined with a herd mentality where legacy airlines largely follow what Delta does (thinking their executives are smartest and must know what they’re doing). The pandemic may be disrupting that pattern, as United’s Scott Kirby doubles down on comfort including improvements for all customers and American starts getting more aggressive.

Ultimately this member of the ‘own the libs Right’ fails to understand the industry he’s trying to use to score political points on twitter, and finds himself having more in common with radical socialists than any sort of ‘conservative’ tradition (though even North Korea’s Air Koryo has business class).

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I never understood the complaint about offering different cabins at different prices as if it’s unfair. Everywhere else in life you can pay more for something better and that’s fine but not with airlines. Should we only make 2 kind of car so none are better than the other?

  2. Here’s the thing: The logic behind the complaint doesn’t matter… complaining matters.
    Nationalists tend to complain about anything, making it an affront to life, the universe, and everything, hoping to get other people to get riled up, so they can have them join their hate pity party.
    Listen to any MAGA rally, and it’s all about whipping up the crowd against (fill-in-the-blank, anger du jour).
    And before you respond, consider Trumps wall, heathcare plan, infrastructure plan,, Afghanistan withdrawal, withdrawing American leadership from global policy events, economic performance, “fine people on both sides”…
    It’s WAY easier to complain than actually govern.

  3. Wow, that’s a very disingenuous take on him. Last time I checked, he wants freedom for individuals to live their lives as they see fit without government coercion and interference (criminalization of speech, bakers being forced to bake cakes celebrating things against their conscience, citizens being forced to pay for things it does not support and does not want, no medical freedom, no religious freedom, no freedom of association, drug laws, and etc).

    Fake and establishment conservatives only care about money and nothing else. They are happy to sell out to China, Israel, illegals, or wokeism as long as they have lower taxes and make money. They are prostitutes and pimps.

    Just because this guy wants government out of our lives doesn’t mean he is not going to have an opinion about how he wants United to operate.

    Smart conservatives will advance their aims through any means. Libertarians are correct about their positions but those positions can only be accomplished when we have freedom. I don’t blame conservatives using government to help our cause when they are in power.

  4. I understand his take on elitism. 90% of the people who make over $200,000 a year are leftists and 90% of the people worth over $5,000,000 are leftists. Real Conservatives have been disenfranchised economically at every level, including access to venture capital funding. Leftists don’t play by the same rules as conservatives. If a conservative creates a startup, he will be bogged down with arbitrary and capricious regulations being applied by government. The leftist startup will never have regulations applied to it until they are huge and can easily afford it. Leftist groups can burn down neighborhoods and the media will call it mostly peaceful protests. Hundreds of people can walk into a building, stay within the ropes, and it will be called a violent attack instead of protest. Conservatives have been too gentle, too accommodating, and too civil and peaceful to stop this and push for freedom and economic benefit for themselves. Conservatives can’t win when the game is rigged against them unless they stop playing by the rules made and applied by their enemies and stop supporting law enforcement controlled by their enemies.

    I personally don’t agree with his take as a conservative who uses business class for the great comfort and experience it brings to the start and end of a vacation. It’s not worth it to him but it is to me. Half those seats in business are filled with people using awards or cash/miles upgrades.

  5. “Nationalists tend to complain about anything”

    Obviously this person hasnt been on twitter much where the millennial lefties get offended at everything,

    “Listen to any MAGA rally, and it’s all about whipping up the crowd against (fill-in-the-blank, anger du jour).”

    Funny – last I heard, Trump was out office for a year and all I hear is lefty politicans who will harass or threaten anyone who goes against their bidding

  6. @dsc – no, I’m not a national socialist. I’m a centrist conservative.

    If you wish to disagree, do so in facts, not ad hominem attacks.

    If some of you are nationalists, then I am sincerely sorry that my commentary offended you. But it is the case, and the sooner we Americans realize it, the better.

    Had he done nothing but sit in a corner and did nothing (as @Amy suggested was his intent- keeping govt out of our lives), that would have been great.

    But with all the listed policy failures, PLUS the $7 trillion increase to the deficit, he took money out of all of our pockets, and yes @James, we will be paying for that for a long time.

    Throw in the challenge that his three hours of non-responsiveness while the capitol was being sacked on Jan 06, and we have a challenge that will take our nation a decade from which to recover.

    Me, I have a very vested interest in these United States, as I need a strong US currency that is recognized all over the world. And that our democracy continues unabated so that people still aspire to become americans.

  7. @Zebraitis – Tough I lean left, it seems that we are on the same side considering your view of the “former guy”.


  8. Don’t care he can fly Spirit Airlines if that is the experience he wants. If someone wants a low budget airline with crap experience by all means they can have it. Honestly I don’t even want to fly with people that want that type of experience.

  9. Raheem Kassam: Trump-supporter to the core ….and to the bank. Remind you of Steve Bannon? They worked in cahoots together to pad their lifestyle at the expense of clowns who imagine themselves to be nationalists but are national losers who play into the hands of US-hating Putin who still can’t get over the collapse of the Soviet Union and what he had to do to make ends meet at times immediately after that.

  10. By the tone of comments on this board and others, will conservatives be allowed to fly? I did not vote for Biden? Shall I be denied the right to fly? The Dems are sliding dangerously to a world where they see no one except themselves with the right to fly, or even exist.

    And, no, I did not vote for Trump. But I detest liberal, narrow-minded, so-called “woke” elitism even more. So here’s what I will do: I will show up at any airport at any time and get on any goddam flight I want. I will purchase whatever class I want to, whether back of bus or first. And there isn’t a cotton-picking’ thing Biden, Pelosi or anyone else can do about it.

  11. I thought conservatives believed in the free market? If United can’t sell enough premium seats, the market will dictate whether they need to replace them with coach. I’m sure United has plenty of research behind its decision. People who want a more Spirit like experience can fly Norwegian, Level or Iceland Air.

  12. @Rog…welp, think I’ll show up for a flight from SFO to JFK with a MAGA hat and a Trump 2024 T shirt (will have to find out where to buy such stuff since I ain’t on a Trump mailing list), and head to my seat in 1A. Then I’ll watch as the pearl-clutching, hyperventilating liberals on board wet themselves. But since they are the “tolerant, inclusive and equitable” sort I don’t expect any negative remarks from anyone. Ya think? Besides, I’ve been flying heavily since 1985 so I pretty much do what I want anyway. Might even light up a cigar!

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