6 Minute Read
I arrived in the Dominican Republic in the back of a full plane tired and hungry. I left in the front of a plane in business class with coffee served upon seating and a full stomach on an omelet from a food voucher from Delta Airlines. The voucher came from our flight the night before after it was delayed again and again with no one really having much of an idea of what was going on. It finally was set to depart eleven, which turned into twelve, hours later.
The fiasco started after they cancelled our original flight Monday for some unbeanounced reason which allowed us to try and catch a flight the evening before instead of the day after. Going to the Dominican I flew out of Portland, Oregon, a three hour drive from Bend, and was going to have to take a bus back but with the cancelled flight, Delta gave me the option of flying directly to Bend so I can’t complain even with the couple hours of sleep on the tile airport floor as I’ll be getting home sooner and when you’re in Business Class, how can you complain.
This is my first time ever flying in Business Class and it’s a bit of a catch 22 as yeah it’s pretty awesome with the ginormous seats and free food and drink, but now I’ll know exactly what I’m missing the next time I fly and what it was like. You do feel more important up here as when you sit down in your large comfy seat with a pillow and blanket set out for you along with a bottle of water, the stewardess asks what you’d like to drink. As you’re sipping coffee (and looking up from your writing) you see those looks you once gave as you walked through business class to your tiny seat in the back. This is where the seemingly rich and successful people sit.
Last night as we were waiting for what was to come, we started talking about what we thought everyone’s story was as there was quite the variety of people taking this flight from Santo Domingo to New York City from the guy who grew up in the Dominican but now lives in NYC, to the guy from Texas who went on a whale watching tour, to the guy from Montreal who went scuba diving to the Chinese guy next to me who I have no idea what his story is. But that’s the thing, up here you can have anyone but they all must have had some form of success somewhere otherwise they wouldn’t be sitting here (unless you’re like me and get a free upgrade). It’s the unhidden selection of the 1% or 10% while the rest sit and watch in the shadows from the back.
But what does that mean aside from the fact that they have money? That they’re too good to sit in the back? They have so much money to burn its irrelevant? They don’t understand that it’s a poor investment? Regardless, they have the luxury of affording what they want and after being in a third world country for the last eleven days, having what you want is a true luxury.
Yeah we all want a lot of things but wanting something a little bit higher up than what is a necessity, and pretty much deemed a necessity in our culture, starts to be more of a luxury depending on where you’re at in the social hierarchy. Something like clean water or food beyond rice and beans, or even something like a TV starts to become a luxury. To probably all of the people here in Business Class, these are everyday things you don’t think twice about but when you’re put in that situation where even having hot water, or agua calleiente, is a rarity, whether to make coffee or to have a warm shower, you realize just how good you do have it in your day to day life.
Luxury is when you have something above what you normally have on a day to day basis. It’s just where your day-to-day basis is. Do you have hot water every day? Do you fly in Business Class all the time? Some people do fly business class all the time and some claim they could never go back to coach. That’s true that it’s probably hard to go back down the rung but when you live below what you’re normally used to, you appreciate those things that to many are luxuries and when you do have them again you appreciate them much more. The problem we have is always wanting a higher basis where those luxuries are everyday items and that is regardless of class. For example in lower classes they’ll have phones that at one point was a luxury but now is an everyday item, even for them. And higher up, something like a nice car becomes an everyday item, not a luxury. These are the things that cost our world so much whether it’s in terms of money, as that money could often be better spent elsewhere bettering both ends (the higher class in that they get more return out of what they spend and the lower class in that a little money can go a lot further) or in terms of economic, environmental, and human costs. In the general sense, if we don’t always fly business class and put our money towards something that “adds value” to ourselves (as flying business class instead of coach still gets you the same result, to your destination) we, as in you the elite flyer and society, get more benefit from the same amount of money spent. So fly business here and there to enjoy it as a luxury, not as an every time thing.
On the flip side of not flying business as an all the time thing, you could argue that the extra money spent on the same good, getting from point A to B, does add value in that the extra money goes to the airline and the stewardess, crew, etc, further adding to the economy but depending to what you compare it to, it’s not direct injection into the economy. If you spend that same extra money at your destination, say at a local restaurant, tour company, or just merchandise off the street, that money can go further because it’s more direct and not through a cooperate entity. And also you’re supporting the local economy and especially if it’s a place like the Dominican, it can help the lives of many to maybe turn that luxury of clean or hot water into an everyday thing.
Also, it would be a good analysis, but if the added cost of Business Class compensates for lower fares in coach, you could say that that money still in the pockets of the “middle class” in the back, can go further because that many more people are likely to spend that extra little bit of money at their destination whereas the one flying in Business Class is probably going to spend that extra money anyway. So in that case, thank you Business Class flyers as you’re subsidizing the rest of our tickets. It would probably be hard though to get that data from the airlines as to if standard ticket prices are affected by the added price of Business Class. Intuition says it’s in between. Tickets in coach are marginally lower and that because of it those people spend a little bit more money at their destination. People in Business Class are already going to spend that extra money at their destination A, because they have it to spend freely, and B, they are already foolish spenders if Business Class isn’t a drop in a bucket and they will continue to spend haphazardly at their destination. And also I suppose C, they are athletes in some regard and the added leg room and relaxation arrives them at their event less depleted from the travel, but those are few and far between and they are probably the ones who can’t afford it and are sitting in the back anyway, like me.
Feel free to share your thoughts and comments below.