American Airlines: Always a “Leader”

Buried in all the political news the other day was an announcement from American Airlines that they will no longer be offering first class service on some of their long-haul flights. A spokesman for the airline offered a very sensible reason for the decision: “Our customers aren’t buying it.” 

I am by no means an expert on First Class air travel . . . at least as it has evolved in recent years. In a less complicated time, first class just meant bigger seats and better food. That made sense and everyone understood that was how it worked.

But within the past couple of decades, First Class has been unofficially re-defined as “extravagant” or “For the Very Rich Only.”  Depending on the airline, first class on long haul international flights has come to mean private compartments, elaborate meals, expensive wines . . .  all at a cost per person that is far out of reach for 99-percent of the traveling public. (Note, please: I am not referring to Business Class, which offers wider seats, much better food and is actually very much like a First Class experience from 25 or 30 years ago.)

As the veteran of more hours at 30,000 feet than I care to remember, I’d like to urge the airlines to adopt a new, improved First Class service that’s available for all passengers at no additional cost. It consists of just two improvements that will make flying something other than an ordeal for 98-percent of your passengers: 

1. An extra four inches of leg room for all passenger. 

2. Something to eat that’s reasonably healthy and tastes good.  

How’s that for a marketing strategy!

Oh! One more thing: Please stop referring to me as your “customer”.  If I order a salami-on-rye and an iced tea, I’m a customer. But when I am being flown to Paris at 500 miles-an-hour,  I’m not a customer; I am a passenger.