Ridiculous article by Chris Elliott

I’m sure most have seen the article by Chris Elliott about frequent flyers/elites by now, but if you haven’t, check it out. I’ve always had a lot of respect for Chris Elliott and generally agree with his conclusions. This article, on the other hand, is two pages of utter garbage, stereotyping all frequent flyers as evil gnomes.

There’s no doubt in my mind many FF’ers are rude pieces of garbage– I sit next to them all the time, those that consistently treat the flight crews with disrespect, never say “thank you,” and seemingly don’t know how to smile. They’re unhappy people, and it’s easy to spot them.

So what’s the problem with the article? Well, for one, most of Elliott’s accusations can apply to anyone, not just frequent flyers. Take this, for example:

Whether it’s mile-high tantrums or clashes with other passengers, the antics of premium passengers are exhaustively documented. The latest case is British supermodel Naomi Campbell, who lost her temper after learning that British Airways lost her luggage. The 37-year-old TV star was hauled off her flight in handcuffs after allegedly spitting at a policeman and trying to punch and kick others.

Couldn’t this apply just as much to any non-frequent flyer as it would to someone that flies 200,000 miles a year?

Or this:

Just a few weeks ago while I was patiently waiting my turn at a ticket counter in New Orleans, a passenger pushed ahead of me, waving his ticket. “I’m late for my flight,” he said. “Besides, this line is for first class.” (Was it the way I was dressed — in a Hawaiian shirt — that suggested I belonged in the back of the plane? I let him have his way even though I was in the right line.)

There’s no doubt this passenger was rude, but this could have just as easily been a coach passenger as a frequent flyer. If he were a coach passenger he could have just as easily yelled “I paid $XYZ for my ticket, I deserve to be first,” even when flying in coach.

Also, clearly Elliott doesn’t fly very much, or at least you’d think so by his generalization of meals in first class:

Or over-the-top gourmet meals with all-you-can-drink booze, while the rest of the plane starves.

Clearly we’re flying different airlines or in different countries. The “meals” I get in domestic F, usually a dried out salad, sloppy wrap, or mediocre sandwich certainly doesn’t constitute “over-the-top gourmet.” What’s this guy talking about? Actually, nowadays I find that the meals in first are basically what’s being sold in coach except on a nicer plate.

No, what annoys me are two important issues. First, it’s the way airlines today are adding amenities to their premium cabins while quietly removing basic services from their economy-class sections. Food is a good example, but such additions and deletions are taking place across the board, and it shows up in every aspect of air travel, from reservations to boarding.

Mr. Elliott, newsflash: oil is $130/barrel, the airlines are bleeding badly, on the verge of bankruptcy, and you want more amenities in coach? Maybe what you don’t understand is that 99% of coach travel nowadays is entirely based on price, where the cheapest carrier wins. First class, on the other hand, still commands some premiums, exactly what the airlines need to survive.

essentials like in-flight meals and the ability to check a bag at no additional cost taken away from them.

Huh? Checking a bag without cost is now an “essential?” Would raising the prices $10 per person be considered criminal and a violation of human rights on your part as well?

But that’s only half the story. Air travelers may be cost-conscious, but I have yet to meet one who wants to pay half a dozen extra fees, to wait in a long line and to be starved on a flight.

Excellent, finally something we can agree on! And I don’t want to have to pay for Singapore Airlines first class, and the airlines don’t want to pay their fuel bill I’m sure, but that’s the reality.

My main problem, as I stated early on, is the fact that Mr. Elliott generalizes all elites, just like many people try to generalize all non-elites. There certainly are some rude, manner-lacking elites out there, but I’m ultimately convinced that’s a minority. The flying public in general is PO’ed whenever they get on a plane, be they elite or not.

I could go on and on, but I’ll restrain myself.

Filed Under: Media
  1. I certainly agree with Elliott’s poor and unfounded generalizations. I’m also sighing at the fact that someone, who, apparently, is an astute observer and negotiator on the part of the travel industry, falls into the trap that plagues so much of the traveling public: that, economy class passengers want economy class prices, but first class amenities. Elliott, of all people, should understand the obvious economic and business impracticality and non-feasibility. Moreover, whining about cuts in platitudes and generalizations solves nothing. If you feel so strongly, take your business elsewhere. Southwest awaits in with open arms . . .

  2. By “agree” – I mean, agree with your analysis and critique of Elliott’s poor generalizations. Whoops, not so clear on my part.

  3. I thought this sentence was rather interesting: “Finally Niepel flew into a rage, forcing the pilot to lock the cockpit door and divert the flight to Manchester, England, where Niepel was arrested and fined.”

    When was this story written? Lock the cockpit door?

  4. Elliott also seems to have issues distinguishing between “elite flyers” and “premium passengers,” further undermining his screed.

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