A person very close to me used to say "I won’t fly cattle class." This is now "I only fly Business Class." Note the smug tone. Get the snooty vibe. If you too fly Business Class, you’ll understand the implications. Cattle Class is for the unfortunate untouchables who are self-demeaned and shamed every time they lower their bums into an Economy Class seat.
Airlines have successfully reintroduced the ancient Indian system where the human race is categorised into travel castes. After centuries of anti-caste activism and a lessening of its acceptance, airlines introduced "apartheid light" to their loyalty programs. Millions of people embrace the airlines’ loyalty programs. People rush to join the upper levels of privilege and it’s costing them a fortune. Did I say "them"? Of course I meant "us".
We were hooked from the moment we booked our Business Award seats on Singapore Airlines. We swallowed the elitist message that we’d moved up to the next level of human evolution and there could be no going back. When we discovered we could pre-order Lobster Thermidor for our flight to Paris, our humanitarian values were thrown down the escape slide. To hell with equality, bring me my Lobster – now!
When discussing our travels with others, we quickly learned to be unpleasantly aloof in conversation with everyone who admitted to flying "Battery Chicken Class". Battery Chickens have more room to move than Economy Class passengers, the major benefit being the chickens are free to relax their sphincters and Economy Class passengers are not (of course there are many unpublicized "mishaps"). Our mantra is: "if you can’t fly Business Class, don’t go at all."
A seat in Economy Class, or "Untouchables Squat", includes food made from Thong or Stubby Holder offcuts mixed with poisoned insects from insecticide laboratories. It’s no secret – ask any Business Caste passenger, we know the truth. The Flight Attendants, if you ever see one, wear WW2 SS uniforms with "KAPO" armbands. Whenever the passengers become unruly, German Shepherds are brought up from the baggage hold.
Economy Caste passengers are dusted with lice powder and must splash through an antiseptic footbath on the way to their seats. It’s true. No wonder their area is curtained off so we in Business Caste don’t witness the iniquities suffered by steerage passengers. Instead, we slide our leather seats backwards, order four glasses of the French Haut Medoc red (never order one when you can get two each), put on our noise-reducing stereo headphones and dial up a movie.
The airlines offer "Business Caste Lounges" at most major airports. They vary greatly. At a QANTAS lounge you’ll be lucky to get one of those little plastic squirters of Tomato Sauce and a piece of Melba Toast. A Delta Airlines lounge may offer you a reconstituted Buffalo-Wing-on-a-stick reheated from last week but in the Singapore Business Caste Lounge you can stuff your face…I’m sorry, I meant consume as much Tattinger Champagne, Yum Cha and Curried Conger Eel as is elegant (and you define what’s elegant, if you get my meaning).
For every privilege there’s a price to pay. To retain our elite status we must funnel our entire lives through two credit cards: Singapore Airlines "Krisflyer" Visa and Amex. When we owned a business we charged everything from toilet paper to food for the guard dog to paper clips and thumb tacks…every little thing went on the airline credit cards.
Today nothing has changed. I’m retired but I enter "Points Accumulator" as my employment in each census. We won’t buy stuff that doesn’t attract points. We buy stuff we don’t need. We negotiate with the airline to get the most out of every point. We do our own bookings through Singapore Airline’s labyrinthine website to get a bonus discount of 15% fewer points. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it.
Should elite Business Caste passengers like us have to scrabble and push to book a seat, you ask? Of course not – however, the upward pressure of the "have-not’s" is undeniable. Passengers trying to "up-caste" as we contemptuously call it are after our seats. To obtain a Business Award seat these days we must book a year ahead and are forced to fly into cold, unfriendly hubs like Zurich Airport where a cup of coffee Singapore Airlines wouldn’t rinse their toilets with costs $A12. Of course we get 2 Krisflyer points per dollar for this brew .
Look with suspicion on other people in the Business Class cabin because no matter how friendly or like-minded they seem, they are predators in this jungle: they will do anything to take your seat in the future. You must be faster and more ruthless than they. I’ll bet Rupert Murdoch and Jerry fly Business Caste whenever they can. In fact I heard Rupert will fly Business and put Jerry into Economy when he’s short a few dollars. I don’t know about Charles and Camilla but she looks like a Business Caste aficionado if I ever saw one.
Even the airline encourages this frenzy. They cancel unused points after a year! To keep our points current we book on as many Singapore Airlines flights as possible and go to places we don’t want to visit, like Sarawak and Diego Garcia.
Recently we were introduced to the legend of so-called First Class by a delusional man who claimed he was an ex Business Caste passenger. First Class is a rumour, and not a very convincing one. Anything better than Business Class – if that was actually possible - would surely be called "Crown Jewels Class" or "Son of God Class "or "Paradise Class."
What does have credence is the (unconfirmed) news that Singapore Airlines will introduce an in-flight Olympic-size heated swimming pool for Business Caste, plus a Steam Room and massagerie, plus a Barbeque suite where a side of beef will be cooked for you by Hester Blumenthal in person.
Gone are our early flying days when the dollar value of our luggage was higher than the fare we paid. Now all we have to worry about is accidentally confronting an Economy Caste passenger in a distant aisle. Remember to bring your hand sanitizer.