I was reading the other day about a major U.S. airline’s attempts at a new class of budget service.
Called “Basic Economy,” all one gets is a seat. The passenger is allowed one carry on bag, which must fit under the seat. Checked baggage is permitted for a fee, but use of the overhead bins to store a bag is strictly verboten.
With my entrepreneurial spirit and being the marketing genius that I am, I am proposing to start my own airline – North German Lloyd Airlines, in honor of one of the largest steamship companies that brought untold millions into this country at the turn of the 20th Century.
Our planes will be twice the size of a Boeing 747 and hold up to four times more passengers.
We will offer luxurious first class service at luxurious first class prices — scrumptious food and drink, the finest in entertainment. If you desire, you can recline your seat into a bed and sleep your way to your destination.
Our business class will allow passengers their own office space with free wifi, as well as food and drink to satisfy any baron of industry, at the appropriate prices.
Then comes the tourist class, where your average middle class passenger and the entire family is whisked to their destination in style — at a price that is pleasing on the pocketbook. (You will be allowed one carry on for the overhead bin and one for under your seat. A $50 charge per checked bag.)
Finally comes the coup de gras. Our cheapest and most economic way to travel to date — Steerage Class.
Like the steamships of old that kept the unwashed masses below deck, out of sight and out of mind, steerage is designed for the passenger who just doesn’t give a darn (or can’t afford to give a darn).
Unlike our competitors, who want to give the illusion of high class service to those they just want to get their money from, all we truly want from them is to take their dollar and make it our dollar.
Now for steerage, we won’t charge baggage fees, because you won’t be allowed any baggage. You will, however, be allowed to take the following items:
• All of your personal belongings such as clothes that can be bundled in a handkerchief and tied to a stick.
• An accordion, harmonica or violin to provide entertainment for yourself and your fellow passengers in steerage.
• A pot, so you have a pot to (go to the bathroom) in. (We can’t have you tying up the restrooms up in the main cabins of the plane).
• Any food or water that you need (we will provide the cooking materials such as coal or firewood because we aren’t entirely heartless, just good capitalists).
• A goat. We’re not sure why, but looking at all the old photos of immigrants coming to this country, there’s always someone leading around a goat.
Steerage will be located at the lowest level of the plane with a separate entrance away from the main jetway. Be careful, the electronic wiring and hydraulics are down there and we want to keep this bird flying.
It will be next to the pressurized cargo areas, but we do have to charge each passenger down there $5 to pressurize it and another $5 to provide heat. (You know how cold it gets up at 40,000 feet?).
You won’t have to worry about those annoying pre-flight safety messages. In case of an emergency, we’re just going to dump you out of the plane to lighten the load.
Now we realize when you travel, you have choices. That’s why we thank you for flying North German Lloyd Airlines.
Sings: “Like a cattle car in the sky.”
— Mark Schnabel is the sports editor for the Newton Kansan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org