Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Does the World Need First Class?

Does anyone really need first class seating and service? Wouldn’t it be nice to spread the wealth more toward the back of the plane?

It’s kind of like those arguments that Wall Street has been making saying that without obscene salaries and bonuses, the “talent” will go elsewhere. It’s claimed that the huge compensation packages are necessary to keep all the geniuses from abandoning ship and starting hedge funds. This, of course, referring to the brokers and wizards that got the financial industry into the mess it’s in – these being the same bozos that sank the whole world into the Great Recession.

OK. Now that that’s off my chest....
Qantas has said that they “have too few seats on some of our aircraft.” As reported in ATW Daily News, the airline has or will be removing some first class cabins, and reducing the number of business class seats so it can focus on economy and premium economy.

This makes great sense, even though in the fat times airlines made tons of money off first-class passengers paying thousands of dollars more than the price of an economy ticket. But now reports are that paid first class tickets are rare, and the airlines are filling those seats with upgrade passengers.

But the bigger question is whether the airlines – or the world – really need that level of ostentation. (Showers and casinos for first-class passengers, Mr. Branson?) We can only hope that the world will continue to be “a different world” after this financial wake-up call. We’re skeptical, but a more egalitarian world – with wealth and luxuries ratcheted down a bit and spread around a bit more – would be a wonderful place.