Do-good passenger slams elite seatmate in open letter

minneapolis airport“I’m sorry your Silver Elite status on Northwest Airlines didn’t qualify you for a first-class upgrade on your recent flight from New York to Minneapolis,” Kevin Winge quips. “All of us, your fellow passengers, shared in the incredulity you expressed so vocally to the gate agent when informed that you would be flying coach.”

Winge is the executive director of Open Arms of Minnesota, a nonprofit organization that provides nutritious meals to people living with diseases, so he knows a thing or two about entitlement. And I think he’s succeeded in writing an open letter that could apply to every annoying airline passenger we’ve ever shared a plane with.

Your expletive-laden denouncement of the airlines, while unsettling to many of those standing near to you, was an opinion that you obviously deemed necessary to share with all within earshot. It is shocking that the airlines would let a little thing like a mechanical problem with the plane interfere with your very important schedule. Trust me, we all heard you when you said how (expletive omitted) upset you were.

Winge picks apart the “entitlement” culture of elite travelers with relish.

While being a requirement for all of us, your fellow passengers, I understand that the size of carry-on luggage is only a suggestion for you. No, I can’t believe the “gall” of the flight attendant who told you that your suitcase would need to be tagged and put in the cargo hold because it was too large to fit in the overhead compartment or underneath the seat in front of you.

Here’s the full story, which was first published in yesterday’s Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Related story:   Another surge in consumer complaints for February

I’ve been thinking about elites and their curious ways since watching this short student film about frequent fliers who make mileage runs.

If you don’t have half an hour or so to watch this, I’ll hit the highlights: This is a short documentary that centers around the people who make trips for no other reason than to rack up more award miles and earn elite status. Some members of this all-male club are well-behaved on their flights, to be sure. But some demand to be treated as … well, elites. My colleague Janice Hough might call them members of the entitlement class.

I wonder if passengers like the one Winge was writing about know they’re being difficult? I wonder if they’re aware that they’re making air travel so unbearable for everyone else?

(Thanks to reader Harriet Phillips for tipping me off to this story.)

(Photo: Brewbooks/Flickr Creative Commons)

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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