Let’s talk about first class, shall we?

Janice Hough’s scathing critique of first class tickets that weren’t really first class tickets was this week’s most visited story.

It’s a revelation that should come as absolutely no surprise to readers of this site. But even experienced airline critics will find a little grist for their mill.

Let the tilting begin.

I’ve written about the death of first class recently, and this revelation just closes the loop. First, they killed the first class cabin, then they killed the first class tickets.

What’s next? People paying for first class but sitting in economy? I can imagine the conversation between two passengers compressed into a tiny steerage seat. They complain about the lack of space, about the service with a snarl, about the lack of overhead bin room, but then one of the passengers pulls out his computer triumphantly and says, “Look! My ticket says first class on it.”

Maybe that’s all airlines really need to do. They just need to call them first class tickets and they can extract more money from you. There doesn’t actually have to be a first class section anymore. What a novel idea. Think of all they could make by selling you … nothing.

Ah, but where’s my sense of gratitude? After all, flying has never been safer and, if you believe the airline apologists, it’s never been cheaper. Safer, true. But cheaper? I’m not buying it. Once you factor in all the ancillary fees and restrictions and penalties, we pay more for flying, so, no, I’m not really that grateful.

Truth is, many of the amenities now reserved for premium customers should be available to everyone, particularly in an industry that’s raking in record profits. A humane amount of legroom and seat width, for starters. The price of the first checked bag should be included in the fare, too. On longer flights, throw in a meal and beverage. Hey, the dogs in the cargo hold are fed and watered, why not us?

Our tickets should also be flexible, just like many true first class tickets. No one objects to paying a reasonable change fee, but Delta’s newest economy class fares can’t be changed at all.

You know, maybe we should kill first class and economy class and start over. There’s gotta be a better way.

One more comment. Oh, I know. You got distracted by all the comments on that last post. So did I. I couldn’t let a week go by without saying something about the comments. You have been so good, commenters. As you know, we migrated back to Disqus last week and put all comments in moderation.

Our moderation team has only had to take action on a few comments, and usually for benign reasons. For example, some messages were sent to the wrong place — they either belonged on the forum or should have been sent directly to me as an email. Very few were — how do I say this? — counter-productive. They were snarky or personal in nature. Our moderators simply didn’t approve them.

We have fewer comments, but that’s a good thing. I’d rather host a brief but helpful discussion than deal with what one Facebook commenter called “a cesspool of nonsense, cruelty and bullying.”

We’re not going to become that.

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