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Friday, 1 February 2013

Keeping The Peasants Out Of Business Class

Business class passengers pay a premium for peace & quiet, & above all, to be separated from the general riff-raff of air travelling humanity. But sometimes simple folk just need simple solutions.

Seat plan, United B767-300
Take the story of a guy called Mr Pollock, flying from Zurich to Washington DC on United Airlines on January 2. For some reason, he & his wife were seated on opposite sides of the twin-aisle airplane. Maybe that's just how they each get their own peace & quite, who knows. Anyway sometime into the flight, he decided to "stretch his legs" & go visit her. He had two options; walk to the rear of the plane, cross over to the other side, & walk back up, or go a shorter distance forward & cross over through the galley area behind business class. Obviously being a practical minded man, he chose the latter.

The only problem was, between him & the galley, was a curtain specifically designed to separate the haves from the have-nots, with a sign forbidding passengers to enter the business class area.

He told a flight attendant of his plan but was denied entry beyond the curtain. He took out his phone & began recording his conversation for legal purposes (an in-thing apparently), which the flight attendant swiftly confiscated. The next thing he claims is that he was pushed up against a counter with his hands held behind his back by two federal marshals. ("I'll be there in a minute darling...").

Whilst the US leads the world in maximum security airports & airline regulations & practices, it got me wondering whether the same thing would have happened on an Australian airline. Surely we Aussies aren't so highly strung.

So I asked Qantas. To my surprise, I got an email back within about 15 minutes. Whilst they "appreciated" the opportunity to comment, they declined to do so on the grounds that my question was "speculative". I think that's corporate-speak for "I don't know". Having gotten someone's attention however, I pressed the question further, asking if economy passengers were prohibited from entering business class, even if just for brief or practical reasons. They curtly replied that "business class cabin is reserved for business class passengers". Make of that what you will.

I also asked Virgin Australia & they seemingly declined to comment too. Not so much in those words; they just never got back to me.

So in conclusion, it seems that indeed, the freedoms of the few will be defended at all cost by those paid to do so. Everybody else can just sit down & shut up. Please enjoy your flight.

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