Class War In The Sky

Betsy Wade has written a most lyrical disquisition for the New York Times on the class war in the sky, riffing humorously on the undercurrents of longing and resentment that we in economy class feel toward the privileged elite in first class.

She hit all the major points of contention, from the first-class only bathroom to the extra leg room and the hot meals. (Although she didn’t mention the sound of silverware clinking on china that you can hear from the front of coach. That’s what really gets to me.)

Anyway, it’s  a very funny piece and I hope you read it. But I’m thinking that lots of people don’t understand humorous hyperbole any more.  Because many of the comments on her piece are hostile and off-target, clearly oblivious to her tone and message.

There’s an angry "if you don’t like it, don’t fly" and "if you want to fly first class, pay for it" contingent that seems to have missed the central idea. The increased downgrading of economy class and the upgrading of first class may make business sense, but they have exacerbated the natural envy the have-nots feel toward the haves. If we once felt smart because we didn’t shell out big bucks for frills, we now feel squished and abandoned back in our cattle car.

The fact that a have-not can make light of it is much to her credit – and her advantage. If there’s one thing that helps a passenger to fly in coach class these days, it’s a sense of humor.


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