I know they’re supposed to be stodgy; nothing quite out-stiffs the British Royals on state occasions. But for some naïve
reason (maybe only having to do with her terrific fashion sense), I thought that Kate and Prince William were the young and modernized versions. So I was surprised to see that during their recent trip
to New York City, much was made of Kate’s visit to a child development center in Harlem, where she -- get ready -- sat down and wrapped a Christmas gift.
Obviously this was a PR set-up plotted down to the last precut square of holiday paper, and Kate did her part: She had glossy princess hair, a lovely bearing, and from all accounts knew what to do
with a pair of scissors. But I was surprised that she didn’t do something with a bit more depth, like reading a book to the kids, or telling them stories about her homeland. The children
certainly could have used a little history and geography lesson. The (cute, jokey) headline from that day was that the preschoolers thought they had met the Princess from "Frozen."
And you know why they were confused? Because we are a democratic peoples!
Of course, we do have
our own money, power, and pop royalty, and Beyonce and Jay-Z certainly qualify. The fearsome foursome did meet up when the Duke and Duchess attended an NBA game at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
During a brief conversation in the second half, the power performers stood gazing at each other in high awkwardness, which for a short time seemed to include some seriously strained studying-of-the
The only moment of true animation or humanity
came later, when Cleveland Cavaliers power forward LeBron James presented the royals with an adorable miniature Cavs Jersey for their toddler son, George. Afterwards, King James posed for a photo with
his hand touching the shoulder of the Princess's coat. It was a huge no-no. (He also wore an “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirt during warm-ups, to honor the death of Eric Garner, but
that’s another story.)
Anyhow, I’m on Team ‘Bron with this one. What a calcified, rigid class system all the
British royal protocol represents, as opposed to our hard-won love of freedom and democracy!
Yup, I was exulting in the sheer idea of
equality and classlessness when I read about Delta Airlines’ announcement of its new Five-Tier Service going into effect on March 1. Five classes? Even Karl Marx never foresaw that one.
This new “redefinition” of airline classes seems too stratified and caste-like even for India during the Raj period, never mind for the United States in 2015. Basically, it boils down
to offering three “premium” categories (Delta One, First Class, and Delta Comfort ++) and two “value option” classes (Main Cabin and Basic Economy.)
With this move, Delta might as well be saying, “We make all of our
money on First Class, upgrades and add-ons, and if you insist on buying that basic fare product, that’s your problem!”
Actually, it’s not
clear that those selecting Basic Economy will even be allowed to board. Seriously, with this bare-bones selection, there are some “restrictions" -- like no advance seating, no changes, no refunds.
Still, say you’re one of these aggressive bottom-feeders but you get to the gate full of acceptance, and ready to deal with a non-reclining middle seat
between two snoring sumos. But the flight is overbooked. Perhaps Delta will relegate you to travel as ballast, tied to the wings (with the contents of your suitcases stuffed into your pockets). Or
maybe you can explore a future “Bunk class” option, in the works, in which otherwise out-of-luck budget flyers are stacked on top of each other in the back of the plane. No choice of
top, middle, or bottom tier there either. Bring your own shelf.
With all of this heavy demarcation of the cabins, the jury is still out on whether Basic Economy slugs will be given free snacks. I heard word from a long-time Delta flyer, who maintains
that in order to get pretzels during a recent test run, the passengers in Basic Economy had to ask “Please, sir?” in a pathetic Oliver Twist voice.
Thus, perhaps to forestall complaints, the company is mulling a “service” upgrade for Main Cabin travelers. This will allow them to iron the clothing, shine the shoes, and warm
the macadamia nuts of passengers seated in Delta One, in exchange for “premium bunk-plus status” behind the kitchen. (Don’t try stealing any of the “chef-curated” food,
however. That means immediate downgrade to ballast.)
According to the press release, Delta is “redefining the products it offers customers to further distinguish the choices available to
them.” Translation: Learn your class!
Even Prince William flew commercial to Washington, D.C. to meet with President Obama and address the
World Bank while Kate was gift-wrapping at the child center -- and the prince never demanded to flaunt his status via a Tumi sleep-case and Westin bedding.
I know it all started more
than 30 years ago with the invasion of the concierge into fields outside hotels. Plus, the idea of “luxury” embodied in high thread counts and inches of extra legroom is now the new
normal, along with chef “curation.” But even if it’s where all airlines are headed, Delta’s permutations are just too obvious and clunky. They seem overly complicated, not to
mention overly transparent about keeping all the perks for the one per cent.
Will this new class system pressure future flyers into protesting with their own manifesto?
Something like “Travelers of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your Platinum Medallion Comfort Plus Elite miles!”
Better yet: “Hey Delta: No More