Business class, coach are worlds apart in the air

  • Article by: Kelly Yamanouchi , Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • Updated: April 3, 2013 - 6:46 AM

Delta’s and other airlines’ focus on well-heeled customers is widening the gap between the haves and have-nots.

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mishugi300Apr. 2, 13 9:42 PM

At some point the FAA might need to regulate coach comfort standards. If there is no financial incentive for airlines to provide basic human needs like enough space to not get a blood clot and food on a 10 hour flight (such as Delta's service from Atlanta to Hawaii) maybe the government should force it.

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fatredneckApr. 2, 1310:21 PM

To paraphrase Louis C.K. -- You're FLYING... through the air! Stop complaining. Seriously; Have and Have Nots? What a poor mentality. You can get across the country in mere hours or around the world in less than a DAY. You may have family photos of people who spent MONTHS trying to do the same thing. Appreciate the science and technology, quit trying to kill the messenger. When you look at the calibre of today's typical American air passenger (some with 3 or more children in tow) you have to admit that air transportation is an affordable, available, and widely used option for the general population.

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TobsterApr. 2, 1310:29 PM

I've never traveled anything but economy. Life isn't fair and neither is travel. You get what you pay for. Deal with it. If not having a lie-flat bed for your plane seat is the worst part of your day, I'd say you're doing pretty good.

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mrprogressiveApr. 2, 1310:31 PM

My company flies me First class since we fly last minute and the difference is not much. There are pros and cons to everything. Good thing about first class is the room, skipping the line, getting off first, snacks/ drinks and having a place for luggage (People from Minnesota are notorious for being abusive and inconsiderate of carry on policy). Bad things are I don't fit the white collar profile you expect up there (I am a younger engineer flying to domestic factories) so I get treated second class most time both from other fliers and the flight attendant. Some of the guys that fly first class can be total jerks to the flight attendant and I have had to restrain myself from telling them off. The sky club is extra or if you fly a lot its free. I have co workers that get it for free.

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mrprogressiveApr. 3, 13 1:36 AM

One thing that's funny about me flying first class is when I ask the flight attendant to hang my slightly dirty Carhartt jacket they ask every time if I am first class (assuming I am coach). They never ask the guy in front of me getting is suit jacket hung. I have had flight attendants pinch my jacket and hold it away from them like its dirty diapers right in front of me. Another thing with first class flight attendants is most don't understand simple people such as myself who request "a can of Diet Coke" or "a can of Bud" when they give me the can opened with a glass, ice and napkin. I then give them the unused glass, ice and napkin back. Again, the perks of first class are nice, the elitism is not.

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dave9398Apr. 3, 13 3:51 AM

Mnprogressive said "My company flies me First class since we fly last minute and the difference is not much.". ---- I agree with this, however the story seemed more aimed at Business class for international flights and not First class. As someone who has flown both Business class and First class (along with many coach trips) there is a much bigger difference in Business class and when you are on a plane for 20 hours the difference can be even more pronounced.

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robin1420Apr. 3, 13 7:06 AM

I think spending $8000 to sit up front for a seven hour flight is ridiculous. I can afford to do so but choose to sit in coach, and spend the money I save on the true goal of a vacation: a nice place to go, eat good food, see the sights. There is nothing "special" about sitting up front - the airlines want to create this impression to the gullible and elitist members of the society who believe they are special by sitting up front (I've been upgraded many times to first internationally, and while it is more comfortable, it certainly isn't worth paying for it!) Bottom line - we all get to the same destination at the same time. You paid seven thousand dollars more to lie down. Wow. Pretty lame.

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odinmanApr. 3, 13 7:45 AM

I've flown to India on several occassions...both business class and coach. Let me tell you, if you are stuck in coach and walk by the business class section when boarding, you are already in a bad mood and will be for the next 22 hours. There really is no comparison and I will never fly coach on such a long flight again. It is literally human torture.

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cph08Apr. 3, 13 8:33 AM

Why am I surpraised by this article with the media trying to drive the gap between rich and poor is getting bigger. Being able to fly is not a right but a privilige. The government does not need to step in regulate the amount of space you get or if you get food or not on your flight. If you can afford a flight to Hawaii then maybe you need to fork over an extra $6 to purchase a snack box or here is a noval concept, buy some food and bring it on the plane with you. As a frequent flyer (2-3 regional flights per week), the only thing in the article I didn't like was the higher miles/segments needed to obtain elite status. Right now, the only benefit I get from have Skypriority status with Delta is I get on the plane earlier and maybe a better selection of the seat. Since the take over by Delta, I rarely get an upgrade so that isn't a benefit.

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swmnguyApr. 3, 13 8:43 AM

I've flown to and from Asia about a dozen times (Beijing, Bangkok, Shanghai). I've flown in Business class and Coach about equally. Flying for 22 hours in Coach is downright dangerous. Don't untie your shoes; you won't be able to get them back on when you land due to swelling and pooling of blood. If you can actually recline and move around, it's a lot safer and more comfortable.

"mrprogressive" has had the same domestic travel experiences I have. There is a class issue here, and I'm far more in tune with the vibe in Coach. However, the extra few inches of seat and spacing make for a far more comfortable flight. I put the over/under on whether it's worth it at 2.5 hrs flight. From here to Chicago, First Class is a waste. From here to Phoenix; very nice to have, if only so your hips and shoulders don't cramp up.

In general, it's too bad we don't have a viable alternative to air travel. Nobody should fly from MSP to Chicago. That should be a 2.5 hr. train ride.

Obviously the airlines will all go out of business, even with their allowed abuse of the bankruptcy system and open and covert subsidies, unless they can soak the business traveler.

Travelers in Coach are going to be crammed in, nickled and dimed to death, and an unwanted and despised (but necessary) loss leader for the airlines. It's getting to the point where it's a better deal to FedEx your luggage to your destination.

It's too bad. Flying used to be nice. But it's not now, unless you can spend more on a trans-Pacific flight than I've ever spent buying a car. And that's only going to get more so, judging by all the trends. The business model won't work for long. Soon enough we'll have one major airline flying Business Class overseas flights. They'll probably be forced to have a heavily-subsidized domestic carrier subsidiary. We could call it "AmeriFlot."

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