Friday, October 15, 2010

The Flying Peasant

When I was in high school I learned about the class systems of the Middle Ages. Feudalism was the law of the land and the basis by which the upper nobility class maintained control over the lower classes. At the top of the pecking order were the kings; next came the lords with the peasants at the bottom of the barrel.

I recently experienced the United Airlines class system. Sadly, I was not a king. I was not even a lord. I was a United Airlines peasant (UAP).

My peasantry wasn't obvious to me at first. I mean, I've flown enough to know that those travelling first class get to board first. But I took note when they invited the "United First" passengers to board on the red carpet.

A Red carpet? I rolled my eyes. Their tickets probably cost 3 times as much as mind did. For that they get to walk on a red carpet. Whoopee.

Then they invited at least 5 other classes of upper nobility to board: United Business, United Economy plus, United Premiums, United Blue Bloods, and United Arrogants.

The red carpet was long gone by the time they finally got to the United Peon class. In fact, they made us crawl onto the plane across a path of broken glass and hot coals.

OK, so I made that part up.

I got in the long line with the other UAPs. And I held my head high. That is, until I boarded the plane and saw where the red carpet people were sitting.

They had their own private pods, not unlike what you would see on the Jetson's. I've worked in cubes smaller than these. Take a look! The only thing missing was a masseuse.

I was starting to get red carpet envy.

I walked numbly past the high rent district and was momentarily excited as I saw what I thought were our seats. But no, they were for the Lords (Business class).

I kept walking. And walking. Finally I reached the UAP section. I squeezed my body into the teeny tiny seat next to the other peasants. I buckled my seat belt, closed my eyes and tried not to think about those Backcycler Motion System ergonomically correct lounge chairs in the red carpet section of the plane.

I decided to think positively. It's only an 8-hour flight. I will be fine, I thought, in this toddler chair watching a movie on a screen the size of my calculator.

Then the flight attendants began to make the announcements. "For those sitting in first class, we will be around in the next 5 minutes to serve you steak and lobster. Don't worry Economy class passengers, we have a variety of stale sandwiches available for purchase. We'll be around with those in 3 or 4 hours"

My red carpet envy intensified.

"Oh, one more thing, you Economy class peons...I mean passengers. We have 2 bathrooms conveniently located for all 120 of you to share. You are not allowed, under any conditions, to pass through the blue curtains and use/soil the bathrooms of the first class or business class passengers."

I wondered if their bathrooms had jacuzzis. My red carpet envy grew out of control.

"Economy class passengers caught attempting to use bathrooms beyond the blue curtain will be forced to leave the plane."

What are they going to do? Throw us out the door?

"But we pride ourselves in our customer service. To that end, we will provide a parachute for your exit."

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