At last, an airline that may be prepared to do
something to make traveling less stressful.
The captain of a JetBlue flight from Turks &
Caicos to Boston
allegedly refused to take off until a two-year old throwing a temper tantrum was
removed from the plane. JetBlue, an
American discount carrier, has yet to confirm the incident, or whether refusing
to carry screaming infants accompanied by incompetent parents, is official
airline policy, but here’s hoping.
While they’re at it, perhaps JetBlue could extend the
ban to other passengers in the nuisance category. We would all have particular
Mine would include the following categories: all
infants under five, all adults over eighty, palpably nervous flyers, seriously
fat people, people with hyperactive sweat glands, people dressed in their
underwear, people with supposedly carry-on backpacks, certified smokers (who
can’t stand not being able to smoke for several hours and who compensate by
drinking on an industrial scale) and anyone carrying the latest novel by Dan
Brown or John Grisham (and possibly other authors, on a proscribed list to be
posted on airline websites).
The enforcements I’ve mentioned, which is by no means
an exhaustive list, would be mandatory. Some
research might be required to identify a more comprehensive list of
Airlines would also be allowed to exercise discretion,
perhaps based on the spot judgement of trained officers, to be stationed at
check-in counters, expert in spotting passengers with the potential for
anti-social in-flight behaviour. Sniffer
dogs could be used to assist in the process of weeding out the sweaties,
cigarette smokers and garlic-eaters.
To avoid the inevitable charges of discrimination, airlines
might introduce a new cabin class, or even special flights, restricted to the
discerning. There would of course be
corresponding sections, or flights, for everyone else.
I’m going beyond the idea of First, Business and
Economy here. Those distinctions are
fine, as far as they go, but they don’t go nearly far enough. What I’m advocating is a distinction in
seating based not solely on passenger affluence but on passenger quality.
An attractive marketing proposition would be to call the
top ticket payers the Elite Class. I
know that the use of words like ‘elite’ tends to raise hackles in these days of
ardent egalitarianism, but bear in mind that Virgin has got away with calling
one of its ticket categories ‘Upper Class’, which is far more blatant than
The travel industry wasn’t so sensitive in the old
days of ocean-going liners. Steamship
lines used to segregate their lower-paying passengers in a class called
steerage. Nobody had a problem with that,
least of all the steerage passengers – at least not until the ship started to
If the steerage concept was fine for vessels that float
(as opposed to sink) what’s wrong with extending it to vessels that fly?
I for one would be happy to pay a premium for a seat
which involved no danger of one’s neighbouring occupant being a corpulent
sweat-box, spilling over into my space, drinking himself into oblivion, while
suffering nicotine withdrawal that can only be alleviated by reading The Da Vinci Code.