When Poor & Rich Folks Go on Vacation…

A satirical look at the social inequities that occur at the airport

If I were to choose the one thing that irritates me the most is inequality, in any and all shapes. Wealth, racial, gender, social, cultural… the list goes on. Yet, it’s often hard to talk about inequality without having a concrete example to talk about. Well, given my recent lightbulb moment, you’re in luck. Without further ado, let’s check it out.

As a kid, I liked flying, for the most part. However, now that I think about it; the parts that I loved most were the planning and the destination, rather than the flight itself. Why is that? Class injustices everywhere.

From the minute you enter an airport, there are hierarchies. Let’s start with check-in. If you’re anything like me (aka poor and looking for the cheapest deal out there), chances are high that the lines you wait in just to check your luggage are insane. And, yet, right beside you, you’ll have ‘a priority check-in line’ for first-class and premium members, completely separate from the common folks, with barely any traffic. I wouldn’t be surprised if these lines were lined with red carpets either.

📸 Credit to: Larissa Gies

Alright, moving on, after what seems like an eternity, you get checked in. There we’re met with security. Remember those premium members? Well, they’re already out in the terminal sipping their $15 lattes at a bourgeoisie cafe, after passing through expedited security lines with no fuss. While, you are stuck in another line, being ushered and yelled at by security personnel. Oh and God forbid, you forget to place your electronics in a separate tray or forget to empty your pockets. You’ll be subject to even more surveillance and more people telling you to do crazy acrobatics, after which they’ll tell you “you’re clear.”

You get your belongings out of the trays (once they finally ensure that you are not, indeed, a terrorist) and make your way to your gate. Now, let’s check in on our premium members, who are, now, out there getting massages in their premium airport lounges.

📸 Credit to mark chaves.

You walk for what seems like miles, through a crowded, bustling airport, only to find that all of the seats at your gate are already taken by people taking up three seats per person. Alright, annoyed, you decide that a seat on a filthy carpet will do. You sit down and go on your phone. You try connecting to the airport wifi, only to be told you need to pay ‘just ‘$9.99’ for a reliable, fast Internet connection. Well, you resist the urge to splurge and use the free wifi option, only to have everything lag so much that you can hardly get any app to work. as to our platinum members? They’re currently running three devices simultaneously, holding a meeting with other platinum members across the globe, checking in on their smart home security system, and signing a business deal all at the same time.

Time for boarding arrives and you look at your boarding group. Of course, you’re dead last. Hardly five minutes after the boarding opens up, all of the premium fliers are already comfortably in their luxurious airplane seats. As to you? Well, you’re going to be stuck at the gate for quite a while. Once you’re finally graciously bestowed the right to board, you proceed with your carry-on luggage, only to be told it will not fit in the overhead bin. You’re forced to pay to check your carry-on. This holds up the line and you’re now faced with a bunch of disgruntled passengers behind you, who are frustrated with the time it’s taking.

📸 Credit to: RODNAE Productions

As to our first-class members, they’re out there sipping on a fancy drink, while you just enter the plane. You look at your boarding pass, and, of course, you’re seated at the very back of the plane, near the restrooms. Great, just great.
More time passes until you finally reach your seat. You’re fortunate to get a middle seat. You’re crammed into a tiny seat, the air around you hot and stuffy. You try to turn on the air only to get hit by even more hot air overhead. So, you tell the flight attendant about the issue, only to be met with an “I’m sorry.” While you’re here just about to explode from everything, our first-class fliers are easily reclining in their leather chairs, while perusing the fly store magazine for some Cartier watch. They might as well treat themselves. After all, it was an exhausting day for them, right?

After the plane takes off, you’re told they’ll be serving snacks and beverages soon. Awesome, you think to yourself. After all, you’ve barely had any time to get anything at the airport, and, honestly, grabbing an $8 LARA bar at the airport mart didn’t seem that appealing to you.

Now, see, one thing you forget to realize is that ‘soon’ is equivalent to ‘an hour.’ You’re at the back of the plane and we all know that flight attendants start at the front of the plane with our premium flyers, who are currently ordering their fillet mignon à la carte. When the flight attendants finally get to you, you’re thrown a bag of pretzels and ask for apple juice, only to be told they’re out. Exasperated, you take the acidic tomato juice.

📸 Credit to: Daniel Frese

Eating your stale pretzels, you look ahead to your first-class passengers, only to be met with curtains. ‘Of course,’ you think to yourself. There’s no way you are actually worthy of seeing them. The heavy black curtain is a reminder to you that you are not to be seen by first-class fliers, who are, quite literally, blinded by any and everything happening behind them.

Now, as you’re sitting there, you realize your need to use the restroom. Ah, but wait. Of course, there’s that line again! You wait for some 20 minutes before you finally enter the bathroom. And yikes. It’s a mess, obviously. I mean what did you expect? There’s shit everywhere and toilet paper is sprawled across the bathroom floor. Well, you suck it up and go. Because what else are you gonna do? You do your business and realize there’s no more toilet paper left. Thankfully, there are some coarse paper towels left. Those work just as fine. You go to wash your hands only to be blasted by frigid water. I mean, you haven’t exactly earned the privilege of warm water, like our first-class folks.

You walk back to your seat amidst a sea of crying infants, motion-sick passengers, and snoring boomers. You reach your seat and wait for your flight to land. As to our premium passengers? Well, they’ve had the most restful sleep of their life, as well as a hearty meal. They’ve hardly even noticed they were flying.

📸 Credit to: RODNAE Productions

Exhausted and at your wit’s end, the plane finally lands. However, not so fast. You’re in no rush, right? Because you’re not getting out so quickly. While our first-class members take all the time in the world to get their belongings together and slowly stroll off the plane into the taxi that awaits them outside, you are forced to wait. Once you finally leave, you realize that you’ll be waiting even more at the baggage carousel because you have luggage to pick up. As you go there, you play the game of ‘guess how beat up your luggage will be.’ When it finally rolls around, it’s not as bad as you think; it’s soaking wet and some zippers are missing, but other than that, not bad at all.
You’re finally ready to leave the airport. You’re tired. You’re pissed. And you’re hungry. While, in the meantime, our premium passengers have already arrived at their penthouse suite at the Ritz Carlton.

Now, if only you could get a taxi to your five-star motel…

📸 Credit to Stephen Leonardi

Writing to inspire. Designing with empathy. Advocating for equality. Fighting for a better world. 🌎

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