Next time you fly coach, there's a remote chance you'll find the president of Mexico seated next to you.

As part of his bid for the office, much of which had to do with combating income inequality and corruption, Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador said that he'd sell off the presidential Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner and use the money to help the poor. Instead, when he needs to travel, he's now in coach. Although he did ask for a windows seat.

You have to admire his determination. Is there anything more dreadful in business travel than airlines? Yes, utter disasters are technically rare even if they do bring lots of bad press. But from the last round I did of weekly flying a few years back, it was a constant drum of first-world low-grade annoyance.

The sets squeezed into smaller amounts of room. The prices that jump whenever they can. Good that would probably make Soylent Green seem appetizing.

And there is the air rage that even the presence of first-class seats can spark. So much expensive privilege--and extra bathrooms--past those little curtains.

That a head of state for a major country would decide to fly coach is utterly amazing. And not isolated. Many members of Congress fly coach. Even many celebrities have been caught flying coach, some on a more regular basis than others.

All this is an incredible opportunity for the chosen airlines. Time to make coach glamorous again. (All flying was years ago.)

Airlines could run creative campaigns, like maybe a free flight for the best spot in a month. Or celebrity bingo: see who gets the most sightings. Get some celebrities to act as spokespersons from their coach seats, if they can be pried in and out when needed.

And what a campaign line: Coach! Not as bad as it seems.

Then again, the carriers could stop trying to crowd people into tiny spaces, provide some semblance of consideration, reduce overbooking and crowding (which wouldn't seem as bad if your elbows weren't already forced up your nostrils to fit in).

You know, things like customer service and undamaged luggage and less predatory pricing and all the other things that endear the industry to the people forced to go from one place to another faster than a stage coach could take them.

Any bets on how long Obrador lasts before looking for upgrades?

Published on: Dec 6, 2018
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