Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A Rich Man, A Poor Man, A Beggar

The rich are not permitted to come anywhere near the poor. Marie Antoinette may have proclaimed "Let them eat cake," but apparently in America today, the better-off among us are apparently afraid they'll get cooties from those of us who are that much less fortunate.


I arrived at LAX the morning of my departure with ample time to make my flight. What with the "no liquids or gels" thing and my paralyzing uncertainty as to how long checking in and security checkpoints would take, I took no chances. I was about two hours in advance of my flight's departure.

I made my way over to the self-serve check-in counter. In days past, I would have simply used a kiosk and gone on my merry way, as I would not have checked any luggage. Given the aforementioned restrictions, however, and the fact that I had just seen my parents (and thus been handed a slew of things to take back with me), I had extra bags that simply had to be checked. No biggie.

Having tagged my luggage, I was advised to take my bags to the security screening area, which was to my right. I dutifully gathered my bags, walked over, and stood in the line where other passengers were clearly checking their bags for security purposes.

Without even asking, the American Airlines employee at the head of the line waved me off and pointed further down the terminal, indicating that I was to go there. Still having no idea why, I grabbed my things and started walking over there, only to realize I had no idea what I was looking for. Finally, still not having found what line I was supposed to be in, I went back to my original line.

The woman in front of me turned and asked me, "Are you in first class?" (I can't even bring myself to capitalize that). "Uh, no," I asked, thinking what a silly and irrelevant question. But I was wrong. It in fact was a relevant question, for I had somehow accidentally deigned to stand in line at the first class baggage screening section. The "poor" peoples' security screening was, as I had been originally told, further down the terminal.

This annoyed me greatly. What, first class passengers pose some quantum different level of security threat that they get different security screeners? (If so, are they greater or lesser threats?) Having read guidelines for when to arrive at the airport, I have never seen an airline suggest different arrival times for first class versus economy passengers. This is because, I presume, usually all passengers will run a fairly equal risk of being screened or held up by security procedures. Apparently, this is not the case at American Airlines at LAX, for first class passengers get not only a dedicated line to retrieve their boarding passes, but also a different (therefore shorter) line to send their bags through security.


But wait, there's more!

Having finally handed off my luggage to the kind gentleman at the poor people's security gate, I started making my way to the gate, fully aware that I would have to pass one more security checkpoint along the way. I turned around and saw a sign indicating that my cluster of gates was located upstairs. Fortuitously, there was a set of "up" escalators about 100 feet from me. (Notably, these escalators were only about 40 feet from the first class baggage check-in).

As I approached the escalator, I saw the signs but I couldn't believe it. There was an American Airlines employee standing at the base of the escalator (complete with lanes set off by faux velvet rope, may I add) whose job it was to check boarding passes. Yes, folks, this escalator was reserved for first class passengers. The employee took one look at my boarding pass and pointed me to another set of escalators at the far end of the terminal (past where I had started the process by getting my boarding passes).

This flabbergasts me. A special escalator for first class to get one freaking flight up? Seriously, do these people need their asses wiped for them too?

I made my way to the Untouchables' escalator (about three times farther from the luggage security checkpoint than the Brahmin escalator), went up, and looped around to get to the passenger security checkpoint. Just as I figured, the security checkpoint was the same one for first class as for The Rest of Us. Really, the only thing they did was make us walk farther.


I wish I could adequately reproduce a diagram of how retarded this system is and how all it did was fuck us non-trust funders. Instead, I hope this descriptive will help:

First class passengers:
1. Go to check-in line to retrieve boarding pass.
2. Go to baggage security line; leave luggage there for eventual loading on plane.
3. Go up the escalator to gate security.
4. Pass through gate security, proceed to gate, wait for flight.

Non-first class passengers:
1. Go to check-in line to retreive boarding pass.
2. Walk past first-class passenger check-in counters.
3. Walk past first-class baggage security line.
4. Go to ghetto baggage security line; leave luggage there for eventual loading on plane.
5. Walk back past first-class baggage security line.
6. Walk past a perfectly good set of esclators leading to gate security.
7. Walk back past first-class passenger check-in counters.
8. Go up ghettoized escalators.
9. On the upper level, double back one more time (this is the third time covering equivalent ground), passing below you the economy class passenger check-in counters, the first class passenger check-in counters, and the first-class baggage security station.
10. Pass through gate security, proceed to gate, wait for flight.

Man, rants like this make me sound like some kind of Socialist.


purpletwinkie said...

I hear you. Most of my travel has been coach...but I have traveled business and first class on occasion. There is a HUGE difference how one is treated. And yes, I almost had my butt wiped.

MoDigli said...

Even with all that bullshit, it's the PASSENGER who felt the need to "check" you that pissed me off the most. What an ass.

This whole thing is a very simple, clear example of how money is the almighty god of our country.

gawwwwd, it makes me sickkkkk!!!!

Drew said...

I experienced that EXACT same bullshit with American Airlines and LAX when I was in LA earlier this month on vacation. Unlike you, though, I used one of the self-serve kiosks to check in, and when I got in line to check my bag, the AA employee was a straight-up bitch to me, telling me I was supposed to remain at my kiosk for someone to collect my bag. Since they had no signs indicating this, and since my mindreading skills were woefully lacking that day, I just snapped back at her, "Well, I didn't know that, and I'm here now, so how about you just check the bag?"

Silly me. That was when she waved me down to the security screening area you wrote about, where even more fun was waiting for me!

LAX sucks. With that said, though, if I could afford to fly first class every time, I totally would. It's so worth it.

Ryan said...

Dennis, look at it this way. It's LAX. If you're in the poor people's bag check, you're still in the company of David Spade.


m said...

hey, i don't think you sound like a socialist.

that whole situation isn't about capitilism and you "get what you pay for"...that is just ridiculous.

you probably broke a rule by making eye contact with a first class passenger. you are lucky to not have been thrown out on your ass for such cheekiness!

Carrie Broadshoulders said...

Well I think it is you get what you pay for and if they want to give all these "privileges" to first class passengers, so be it. But the minute the bitch in line tried to inform me that I was clearly not of the first class caliber, she'd have gotten my middle class kenneth cole wedged in her uptight ass.

Rich said...

I've missed reading your posts! Always insightful. Got a lot of catching up to do!