Elitism Is Creeping Into Frequent Flying

Frequent flyer schemes are excellent for regular travellers, providing a scheme whereby flyers can upgrade to first class seating or even accumulate free flights. But has the system spawned a group of elitist travellers who consider themselves better than their fellow flyers?

Flight attendants and airport workers have recently reported tales of snobbery where frequent flyers have demanded special attention. Whether they hold a Gold or Platinum membership to the airline, an abundance of air miles or a covetable first class ticket, this small selection of travellers think that they are superior to others. They demand first class seats above fellow passengers who may have paid extra for the luxury, and there have even been stories of them asking fellow passengers to move out of their seats so that their travel companions can relocate to first class to keep them company.

Due to the numbers of frequent flyers rising dramatically as business travel becomes more of a regular occurrence, there are often high proportions of travellers on popular flights who are all vying for the same privileges. Grown men and women have been seen to push and shove others out of their way in the hopes of gaining one of the elusive upgrades. There are now often more people flying with airline privileges than there are available upgrades to give away.

Are You An Elite Flyer?

The Silver Spoon Flyer

Airline staff have dubbed these elitist travellers ‘silver spoon flyers’, and say that their pompous and sometimes aggressive behaviour isn’t solely reserved to how they treat the staff; there have been several cases where other passengers have been spoken down to, shouted at or pushed out of the way because of superiority complexes.

So why do these ‘silver spoon flyers’ consider themselves amongst the elite? Many put the blame on the airlines themselves, suggesting that if they treat their frequent flyers like royalty, it is no wonder that these people consider themselves more important than the other passengers.

Airlines Create The Monsters

Travelling first or business class, passengers are treated to such luxuries as fully reclining beds, showers, superior meals, alcoholic beverages and dedicated flight attendant at their beck and call. Some airlines even lay out actual red carpets for their premium passengers to board the plane before the rest of the ‘riff-raff’.

It’s easy to see how people develop a sense of self-importance when they are treated like VIPs, especially if this treatment is out of the ordinary for them. The very names that are given to these frequent flying schemes (Silver, Gold, Platinum) create a sense of luxury and pomposity. Silver customers think that they are better than ‘normal’ customers, Gold customers consider themselves better than Silver, and Platinum think that they are on the top of the pile. It is easy for this sense of elitism to go to people’s heads.

Be Grateful And Don’t Be An Ass

People have to spend money to gain this status, and once they have it, they don’t take kindly to it being suddenly stripped away from them. The main problems that arise with ‘silver spoon flyers’ are when they find themselves booked onto busy flights where their usual privileges are stripped away. With more and more people gaining frequent flyer status, first class cabins are struggling to cope with the demand.

It is, however, important to note that not all first class passengers are considered ‘silver spoon flyers’. The majority of passengers are courteous and well mannered, and those who receive upgrades are usually incredibly grateful. If you do receive Silver, Gold or Platinum status with an airline, just remember to treat the staff and other customers as you, yourself would like to be treated. And be aware that plenty of flight attendants now write anonymous blogs where you might be named and shamed!

Emma Lavelle is a UK based writer and photographer and has her own blog Field and Nest.