Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Caste System

Airlines board their planes by "zones", a scheme originally implemented to get folks into their seats more efficiently than a bull rush free-for-all. However, airlines quickly saw a way to turn this zone labeling into a cash cow. If you want to get to your seat early in the process, then the airlines will charge you a fee. However, the number of zones that exist and the fee structure have now officially reached comical proportions. I sit in the airport waiting area as they begin boarding my flight listening to round after round of premium zones announced:
  • Now boarding our Sky Elite members
  • We happily welcome our Platinum Elite to board now
  • Those with Elite Platinum can now approach the podium
  • Our One World Skyline members may now board at this time
  • Now boarding our Platinum Traveler members at your leisure
  • We welcome our Gold Ruby members on board
  • Now receiving our Gold team members
  • ....
The endless waves of preferred members naturally leads to the development of a caste system in the airport. If you have not paid a premium to get on board early, then you are treated with contempt, not only by the airline employees, but by your fellow travelers. When the common rabble are finally allowed to get on the plane, then all of the Sky Elite Platinum Ruby Gold folks have to haul themselves up out of their expensive seats so the rest of us can get into our cheap seats right next to them. By the time all of the luggage is stowed and everyone has finally gotten settled down and belted in, enough chaos has ensued that the bull rush scheme would have gotten the plane off the ground much, much sooner.