Sunday, January 18, 2015

Flying observations.

I get to travel around the Midwest as part of my ministry. The places I have opportunity to visit are reflections of Gods creative wonder. The people are often dedicated Christians seeking to join God in his mission in their communities. I mostly drive, but handful of times a year this means I fly. I enjoy flying. But there are a couple of things that I have noticed that cause me to take pause.

First is the intentional organized segregation of passengers. I heard it said once, "You can have as much education as you can pay for." It was slight on the US higher education issues, greed, consumerism, and the amount of loans students are taking. But the point was made and it is fairly universal. You can have as much of anything you can afford. The question is should this consumerist concept be applied to all areas of life. Such as flying.

Those who pay more get bigger seats, early boarding, more snacks/drinks, and access to the front lavatory. While at the airport they have access to different waiting clubs with more comfortable amenities. All other passengers are squeezed into smaller seats, have limited snacks if they're available, and a vast majority of the plane shares a similar lavatory. While at the airport they share the limited outlets, bathrooms, and seating. I suppose at its most basic this makes sense.

However this past week I experienced a nearly empty flight. This rarely happens. But on this flight there were a couple empty first class seats, nearly all economy plus seats available, and one seat per row in economy. Upon seeing this some people attempted to practice normal human desire to spread out only to be told to return to their assigned seats. An announcement came on that said people could move if they wanted to pay an upgrade fee. I understand that some people paid for the upgrade and would be annoyed to have people sit there for free. I understand that flight crews have to monitor safety and accurate head counts. But at some point we have to acknowledge we segregate passengers if not racially, economically. I question the validity of this segregation. The plane arrives safely for all passengers. Why does it matter if one sits three rows forward or back if they are available?

Second observation. Airports are places of none-presence. You are neither where you are from or where you are going. Mentally and emotionally you are not present, but thinking ahead or back. People are on phones and tablets engaging in places other than where they are. They read books, magazines, and watch TV to remove them from their location. Even the staff in their various roles only seek to remove you from the space you are get you on your way as expeditiously as possible. 

So a point of confession. I have flying points. I sometimes use clubs and upgraded seating. Not always but sometimes. I read, email, text, and generally disengage from those also traveling near me at times. So I make these observations from experience.

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