Some 24.6 million people (equal to the whole population of Australia) will be heading down the aisle toward a seat on an American airline during this Thanksgiving holiday. That’s an average 31,000 a day more than last year—including international and domestic flights—as Americans wing their way home from far and not so far. Depending on whether they turn left or right at the door, they’re going to find increasingly different levels of service, from a hearty, personal welcome to a dismissive instruction to get seated ASAP.
Imagine you are checking into a hotel. Before you reach reception, you are intercepted. You present your reservation and, according to what it indicates, you will be directed in one of two directions—turn left for new levels of absolute luxury, turn right for the meanest of budget hotel rooms. All under the same roof— but a place containing extremes of comfort and discomfort.
Change the location from a hotel lobby to an airport check-in desk and this crazy scenario becomes all too familiar. When we fly, we have become hardened into accepting extremes of inequality in services and comfort that would be outrageous in a hotel. And it’s going to get worse.