First class air travel does not offer first class worthy perks

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In most areas of life, I am a snob. I listen to classical music on Deutsche Grammophon and other such labels, own two Burberry purses, and drink only the highest-quality tea picked from foreign fields. But when it comes to airlines and flying, I proudly admit to being your run-of-the-mill, average-Joe commoner.

I don’t believe in luxury air travel. I dutifully sit in coach with my overstuffed carry-on taking up any leg space, sandwiched between your average back-to-school college kid and Midwestern mother of three going to visit her sister. I scoff at the wrinkled old ladies and businessmen who sit in first class, whose ugly Louis Vuitton purses and company per diem, respectively, could feed small towns. They fan themselves in annoyance and yabber on their iPhones because they can. They usually get their own flight attendant who definitively pulls the curtain separating first class and coach, as if to say, “Yes, we do have class divisions in society. And I have to fetch wine and hot towels for these idiots who paid a whole hell of a lot more to go to the same place.”

First class isn’t all that great. I could tell already by shuffling past the suit-wearing sky VIPs as I headed to my lowly seat in coach, but just to be sure, I looked on American Airlines’ website to see what it all entailed. Domestic first class, it proudly states, offers perks such as the exclusive Bose QuietComfort acoustic noise canceling headphones. Which is really useful considering how the low hum of the engine drowns out all the tuba solos I listen to on planes all the time.

It also offers a six-way adjustable leather headrest, which was probably installed after a consultation with a chiropractor. Said chiropractor probably suggested to AA that there is only one way to sleep on a plane: awkwardly and with one’s mouth agape. So it’s only logical to install something fancy-sounding and dysfunctional, but sounding like it could provide quality cervical and thoracic support.

It threw “additional leg room” in there, although we know that’s a given. To my knowledge, I don’t think there’s an academic paper on the relationship between length of posterior extremities and tendency to order first-class tickets. Not a huge deciding factor.

One thing that is actually legitimate is that first-class customers get priority at check-in. Which would be really helpful in a time crunch since I do not have my own personal chauffeur and have to rely on public transportation to get to the airport. But these first-class divas and divos probably do. So there’s a catch-22 for you.

In the end, VIP air travel is mostly just a marketing executive’s ability to make unnecessary nothingness look really good to you. So they can charge you more to feel superior. So airlines can further ingratiate class distinctions in society. So they can give you a hot towel pre-flight to wipe from your brow the filth of the huddled, unwashed masses in coach behind you. No thanks. I’m sticking with my Lipton green tea and C-list orchestra.