What’s causing my hedonistic euphoria when my body so accustomed to freedom is squeezed into a tight airplane seat thousands of feet above the ground? Sandra Bullock movie, that has been modified to fit the screen, suddenly becomes an HD home theater display with surround sound. The wine I wouldn’t normally hesitate to dump down the drain caresses my taste buds with a delicious aroma and brings about a blissful state of intoxication due to low air pressure and lack of oxygen. L. drinks something she would never touch down on Earth: tomato juice. "Tomato juice only makes sense up here," she says.
Due to its spatially limited nature, an airplane seat becomes a meditation cave. All life distractions are left behind and below. Flight in the stratosphere is an infinite state of suspension in the simplicity of (non)existence. There is nothing to do here. Reorganizing files and folders on a laptop screen suddenly becomes the most important and engaging activity. Here we derive our pleasure from the mundane. Cologne advertisement on a blurry screen fills us with sense of depth and universal wisdom. Our eyes well up with tears of emotion triggered by the great mystery of life.
I think about how nice it would be to sit or lie down in business class. Suddenly my hedonistic craze mixed with the ecstasy of existence fades. The salivary glands activate at the thought of sparkly champagne and soft wool socks.
Meanwhile, apart from the vast discrepancy of price, the differences between the economy and business class are not that great. After all, we share the same journey on the same plane and both options are about surviving the journey within a confined space. Even turbulence is the same for all casts of the tin can society. Business class offers only a little more than the economy class: the option of lying down, a little more courtesy, a little more generosity in pouring drinks, a slightly larger screen, earlier getting in and out. “Only a little” becomes “EVERYTHING” if we are looking at spending many hours inside of a can but the business class fee does not cover spa, Jacuzzi or a massage. Not even caviar! The only almost undeniable luxury that comes with the business class ticket is the awareness of being above others: those paupers sitting in cattle conditions back there. The illusion of multi-leveled travel conditions is a psychological trick developed by clever entrepreneurs to raise the largest possible amount of capital. The Luxury Tax can be applied in any situation where the slightly different options are separated by a synthetic curtain and given appropriate names. Concrete walls can crumble but nothing can penetrate the synthetic curtain! But what if another curtain is added for the Business Plus option with an even more effective illusion of comfort discrepancy at the front of the plane? Now, to maintain the feeling of superiority, the ambitious nouveau riche would have to pay even more and the more they pay, the greater their mundane pleasure of being above "the cattle cast” would be. Soon however, even they would fall prey to the layered thinking driven by the ideology of success: "how nice it would be to sit in my own private jet now!”…
Because the fuselage length of a commercial plane is limited by the laws of physics, clever entrepreneurs must resort to a trick. Deliberate sabotage of the conditions in economy class is the most effective motivation for the passengers to buy options much more expensive. Platinum Plus with extra coat hanger! In our view comparison with the uncomfortable option, not the objective state of affairs, turns our somewhat comfortable seat into a soft king size bed covered with rose petals.
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Our plane like a huge onion divided into layers reaches its destination. Roughly about three-quarters of the Sandra Bullock movie elapsed. My intention to watch the rest of it "maybe tomorrow when I’m more rested” weakens as we approach the surface of the Earth. Sandra Bullock and tomato juice make sense only in the stratosphere.