I’ve been flying a lot lately. About a week and a half ago, I was reminded how much I hate that there is class division on airplanes. Yes, there was a specific happening that reminded me of this anger I’ve been keeping inside. As I boarded onto the plane with my roller suitcase, I looked ahead to the overhead bin above my row and knew I’d better store my suitcase ASAP. So I mustered up all the energy I could and hoisted my suitcase up over my head and into the compartment that spans first class and economy. Phew! I continued on to my aisle when suddenly, the flight attendant shouted after me: “M’am! M’am! Where is your row?” I pointed that it was just a bit further. “I still have people boarding in first class, so you’re going to have to move your suitcase further back.” Are you kidding me? In this Rosa Parks moment, I contemplated standing my ground. Why can’t your first class people just walk a few steps further to store their luggage? I decided not to make a scene. After all, I hear those don’t go over so well on airplanes post 9/11. So I pulled my suitcase down, continued on to second class, and stored my bag.
This isn’t the first time I’ve been angered by business class. An excerpt from a journal entry when I was fourteen:
June 15, 2001. The last flight was not bad. I was in the first row of seats of 2nd class, which (to me) is THE worst seat. I feel like everyone behind me is glaring at me like I think I’m better than them because I’m closer to the front of the plane than they are. At the same time… I’m staring on to the “cream of the crop” – first class. Oh wait! – excuse me – I’m NOT staring on to them because there’s a freaking CURTAIN separating 1st and 2nd class!
This is not just a silly frustration. As far as I’m concerned, this is the most blatant example of classism in America. I mean… we even label it first and second class (err…business and economy, if you fall for that)! And the only thing that separates first and second class (other than The Curtain) is our relative affluence. How is no one else bothered by this????? It is very clear to (most) people in our society that it is no longer okay (err…was never okay) to ask a black person to sit in the back of the bus. But it’s somehow okay to ask a poor (or even upper middle class) person to sit in the back of the plane. Make way for Prince Ali!
Does anyone else ever think about this? At my work place, we talk a lot about power and privilege, especially recently. Speaking of recently, I have lots of thoughts on grad school and privilege, so I’ll get back to you soon on that one… enough ranting for now.