What poverty?: Emirates declares 1st Class a success

Written By: - Date published: 11:08 am, February 23rd, 2016 - 55 comments
Categories: business, capitalism, cost of living, Economy - Tags: , ,

Presented with no additional comment:

Emirates’ boss in New Zealand says there’s strong demand from Kiwis willing to spend more than $10,000 apiece for first class travel.

Chris Lethbridge said the airline was selling first class suites for around $12,000 to Europe.Emirates 1st class

The airline has launched a number of fare promotions around its direct Auckland-Dubai service.

Besides private suites, showers (on A380s) and food on demand, passengers are currently being offered Dom Perignon worth around $500 a bottle.

”We are always pleasantly surprised at the demand for First Class. People have got a taste of it on the Tasman,” he said.

“More people are wanting to travel in comfort – people are surprised at how within reach it is in their budget.”


55 comments on “What poverty?: Emirates declares 1st Class a success”

  1. savenz 1

    What airlines have done to get people there, is to make economy a lot worse. Business the same and then voila, First class seems better.

    20 years ago flying in any class was a lovely experience, now forget it! Some airlines now you have to pay extra to go to the toilet or have a drink of water. There have been cases of passengers getting haematomas from obese passengers squashing them while the airline staff do nothing for 8 hours. Flying is a dicy experience now that is for sure.

    Saying that, people are so poor now, with low wages, the demand is for the cheapest fare no matter what, is probably driving it at the low end and the rise at the top end. Inequality in action.

    Neoliberalism again. Profits before decency.

    • Lanthanide 1.1

      I think more like 30 years ago flying might have been nice, maybe?

      I went on a big holiday with my parents in 1996, which is actually 20 years ago. It wasn’t all that different to now.

    • Gosman 1.2

      Perhaps you need to get the State to regulate quality then. Make everybody fly the same way like they do in Socialist nations /sarc.

      • Beatie 1.2.1

        30 yrs ago I flew Aeroflot from Kuala Lumpur to London. Cost was $US250.00. Service was fine, with caviar and champagne (Russian) included. Also stopovers in Tashkent and Moscow were a bonus.

      • Regulating a minimum space to allow for people to comfortably sit in for hours at a time seems like a reasonable restraint on unchecked capitalism to me. If flying ever becomes like bus seats it’ll be completely possibly for anyone who isn’t both short and skinny to an above-average degree.

    • Richard McGrath 1.3

      Obesity is generally a phenomenon of the less well-off, so if obese people are flying, doesn’t that imply that less well-off people can now afford to fly? Isn’t that rather “decent”?

      • Colonial Viper 1.3.1

        You’re a stupid.

        Can you please at least make an effort.

        • Richard McGrath

          Just an observation based on 25 years working in general practice. Fatties are generally less educated and less intelligent, Sorry if you don’t like that but there it is. Generally, not universally. Same applies to obese air passengers.

  2. Stig 2

    20 years ago you were probably a lot slimmer.
    Those in genuine poverty never have and never will be able to afford to fly. What you are describing is middle class entitlitis.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.1

      I take it that you’re one of the people who haven’t figured out why aircraft and ocean liners have more steerage class seats than any other.

      I recall an aircraft developed by the Brits in the 1950s/60s. It was full on first class and designed to cater to the British and European aristocracy. It flew for a bit but was never commercially successful as it simply didn’t cut the cost of fuel per person enough making the trip too expensive even for the wealthy.

      I also recall when I last worked at a large telco being shown where all the profit was coming from and it wasn’t the VIP customers that got sub 24 hour response times. It was from the regular retail customers that got 5 day response times.

      I suspect that these high paying high flyers are being seriously subsidised by the economy classes as happens across the entire economy – see this:

      [lprent: test vimeo ]

    • Richard McGrath 2.2

      Fatties usually come from the lower end of the socio economic spectrum. Where is the implied entitlement mentality in this story?

  3. Sabine 3

    i guess that for most people this does really not matter.

    • aerobubble 3.1

      Yes wealth begets wealth, how does that matter much to most people fed the lie that hard work will make them rich. Trump inherit wealth and connections, so unamerician and yet the plls keep on gve him a lift further. Tell people that connection and inheritance run the world. Take the Saudis, they would be little to nothing had oil not flowed from the desert.

      • Sabine 3.1.1

        i have spend a lot of times in airports and in air planes. Its a long way from NZ to Europe, and funnily i have also flown emirates. Mainly as I will take any route that will prevent me from a stop over in either the US, or having to land in Heathrow – first circly of Dante’s Hell or maybe last if he ever had to land there.

        I always fly economy, as frankly a good handful of sleeping pills or muscle relaxers will get you through any flight easily, and if like me you don’t like flying….one can get zonked legally to the hilt and only wake up when they wave the food around.
        Tip, always eat the local food :).

        But spending 12.000 thousand to have a shower? Fuck, have a stop over in Singapore, go to terminal 2, go to the hotel – which is where the pool and jacuzzi is, and for 13$ (t’was four years ago) you get to stay there floating about for as long as you want too, they give you a nice towel for the shower, and a free non alcoholic beverage to boot. Then, off to the manucurist and head massage people (discount of 10% applies, cause you just the services of the hotel) and get made human again.

        Then you still have some 9.950$ left over to party in Europe.

        All this shows is that very rich people actually don’t get value for their money.

        They do get better check in service tho. I give them that…..but then I am usually to zonked out to bother getting either on or off the plane. Drugs, legal Drugs, so much fun 🙂

        • Psycho Milt

          All this shows is that very rich people actually don’t get value for their money.

          It’s more like, at some unspecified level of wealth, cost/benefit ceases to be a factor. I flew first class on Emirates once, way before they were flying A380s, and it was very nice but really not worth spending all that money on. Didn’t bother a second time for that reason. The only people spending the money would be ones like me (see what it’s like) or people who have so much money they really don’t give a shit about value for money.

          • alwyn

            Business class is worth it if you are travelling on business and have to hit the ground running. I find it takes me at least 3 days to fully recover from a straight through economy flight to Europe. I’m on holiday though nowadays so a couple of nights in a decent hotel doing nothing much when I get there is much cheaper than the Business class fare.

            I didn’t hesitate to go Business when my employer was paying though. Oh for the good old days.

            The trouble is though that if you really want to arrive fully rested you should take a sleeping pill, sleep all the way, drink only water and not bother to eat the airline food.
            Seems a waste doesn’t it?

          • Sabine

            i wondered once if I should upgrade, but i guess I am just too greedy to pay so much for so little value.
            Not sure if they don’t give a shit anymore, they seem to be fond of status objects – but they certainly don’t have the same value systems. Effectively spending ten grand on a 500$ booze and a shower? really?

            • Lanthanide

              I’d have difficulty paying for 1st class, I think. If I were wealthy I think business class would be easy to pay extra for.

              Probably only do 1st class if I literally didn’t have any care for the cost, which for me probably means at least $5M in the bank.

            • miravox

              Luckily our flights have been part of an employment contract, but contemplating changes – I’d reduce the number of flights I take rather than give up a lie flat seat on a long haul flight.

              But then, I have joint problems – there aren’t enough pills I can take for it not to end in tears. Believe me, I’ve tried.

              I bristle though, that business class and up getting better services from immigration. Airline companies can do what they like, but everybody should get the same service from a government department, except those who get increased service on compassionate grounds (and that doesn’t include the rich).

  4. Lanthanide 4

    $12,000 for a first-class ticket to Europe from NZ does seem awfully cheap, actually.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      I’ve never flown first class but I understand that a first class ticket to Europe was probably around that same nominal price a decade ago, and after 10 years worth of inflation, it’s definitely not as much as it used to be.

    • alwyn 4.2

      “$12,000 for a first-class ticket”.
      Yes, it strikes me as cheap too. However Singapore Airlines, travelling First/Suites class is only about $14,000 according to their website.
      I have been travelling to Europe, paying for my own tickets since 1980, about 35 years. I don’t believe that the Economy cabins have really changed at all in that time, at least on airlines I have used. The seat pitch and width is the same as it ever was.
      What has changed in Economy is that the cabins are nearly always full. In the old days there were always empty seats and it therefore felt more spacious.
      On the other hand the fares haven’t changed either. You could get a return trip, if you booked ahead, for $2,500 then and you can do the same now. What else do you know that hasn’t gone up in price in that time?
      Business class, which I don’t remember in 1980, and First class on the other hand have become a great deal more comfortable. You had good legroom but there was no such thing as lie-flat seats. You just got a few more degrees of reclining. It is the difference between Business and Economy that people complain about rather than Economy itself.
      I know a number of retired people who make their very rare trips in Business class. They are certainly not rich but a trip might be only once every five years. Why shouldn’t they travel in comfort? It’s their money and it isn’t really that much.

      • Lanthanide 4.2.1

        “What else do you know that hasn’t gone up in price in that time?”

        Microwaves. Shoes.

        • alwyn

          Microwaves, true. I wouldn’t agree about shoes although I am only working from memory. They are more affordable but I think the dollar price has risen.
          Don’t tell the people who hate trade agreements though that things might cost less.

          • Lanthanide

            What’s interesting that even as microwave prices have stayed steady or fallen, electric jug prices have gone up crazily. There are now many models costing $100+, and you’d generally have to shop at somewhere like the Warehouse to get one for less than $40.

            Seems they’ve sort of turned into a fashion item.

            • Colonial Viper

              Mine has bloody blinking flashing changing coloured lights. What the hell.

              • Lanthanide

                It keeps your water hotter for longer. Or something.

              • Draco T Bastard

                Was looking at toasters a couple of months ago. One caught my eye as simply going too far and costing way too much. It had flashing lights on it, it had electric motors to lower and lift the toast and a button that would allow you to check to see if the toast was done or not and another one to ‘toast a bit longer’. It was, IIRC, $141 on special.

                It was, IMO, an exercise in going too far for such a simple device.

                • Lanthanide

                  The funny thing is that none of the things you’ve listed are anything but short-cuts for functions toasters can already perform with their standard interface. Weird.

                  I bought a crappy Ronson toaster from the Warehouse about 4-5 years ago. It’s got quite a few ‘extra’ features that many of the much pricier models didn’t have. Consumer magazine even gave it a ‘recommends’ award, since it was the cheapest in their test and had the extra features.

                  As a toaster, it works perfectly fine.

                  • alwyn

                    The cheapest electrical appliance we have bought in the last few years was an iron at the Pack ‘n Save in Hastings. It has a slightly shorter than usual electrical lead but it was a steam iron with a non-stick base.
                    Total cost? $2.98. I don’t see how they could ship them for that price.
                    We needed an iron on holiday. Still works just fine.

          • Draco T Bastard

            Don’t tell the people who hate trade agreements though that things might cost less.

            It’s not trade agreements that brought prices down but increases in productivity and sweatshops/slavery. On a level playing field (wages and conditions the same) then shoes made in NZ would cost the same as those made in China but would cost less on the shelves in NZ because of the decreased transportation costs.

            • alwyn

              Transport costs at the moment are just about nothing. According to the Economist in October the cost of shipping a 20 foot equivalent container from Shanghai to Europe was $US200 or so. I imagine it would be a similar amount to ship one to New Zealand.
              I don’t think we could match the productivity of the enormous production volumes even if wages and conditions were the same.

              • Draco T Bastard

                I don’t think we could match the productivity of the enormous production volumes even if wages and conditions were the same.

                Well, that’s the thing about modern factories – they all work at the same efficiency level whether large or small. Economies of scale no longer truly apply. 3D printing will make even what’s left disappear.

                So, that $200 per container is $200 more than it costs to make them here*.

                * If we developed our economy rather than just trying to be a big farm that’s killing our environment.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Well, that’s the thing about modern factories – they all work at the same efficiency level whether large or small. Economies of scale no longer truly apply. 3D printing will make even what’s left disappear.

                  None of that is true.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    Well, you ‘ll have to take that up with the engineers who say that it is (And I really do wish I could find the article that I read about it a few years ago).

                    What it boils down to is that to make a part requires the same amount of energy and material and time no matter the size of the factory producing it. The only variable left for economies of scale is the actual human content and that’s pure technician maintaining the factory itself, is the same across factories and the technicians can work on multiple factories (although the capitalists really hate that idea).

                    Economies of scale are 19th century thinking where everything was still done by hand rather than by automatics.

      • Matthew Hooton 4.2.2

        Business Class now is far, far better than First Class was even 20 years ago (when the taxpayer paid for me to fly to Europe on it a few times). Paying personally, I went on Emirates First Class across to Sydney a few years ago, just to check out what it was like, and am deeply depressed I will never be able to afford it on a 14 hour flight! The price across to Sydney is relatively cheap (say three times economy) because it is so pointless going on First Class for such a short flight (I was the only passenger) so if you can afford it just once, I recommend it for the experience.

        • alwyn

          “Business Class now is far, far better than First Class was even 20 years ago”.
          That is definitely so. All you got then was a wider seat and more legroom.
          The only time I travel Business these days is if I can get a Business ticket using frequent flyer miles. It isn’t easy but you can occasionally get a seat at the low miles rate if you book well ahead.
          We had some United Airline miles left over on our UA accounts a couple of years ago. We discovered we could travel, on Air New Zealand, from Auckland to Perth return for 20,000 miles in Economy or 30,000 in Business. That was a real no-brainer. The number required has gone up a little these days but the ratio is still about the same.

          • vto

            Walking is far more enjoyable and better for you

          • Colonial Viper

            “Business Class now is far, far better than First Class was even 20 years ago”.
            That is definitely so. All you got then was a wider seat and more legroom.

            LOL who the hell were you flying with in the 1990s/2000? Singapore airlines business class rocked, even back then.

            • Matthew Hooton

              I never went on Singapore Airlines Business Class in the 1990s but did go on its First Class a few times (thanks taxpayers) and it was just a massive lazy-boy chair rather than a bed. The beds were introduced in the early 2000s in both BC and FC and are, as you say, fantastic.

            • alwyn

              I was mainly referring to the completely lie flat seats, parallel to the floor, rather than the rest of the service. The seats are a pretty recent innovation, and it is those that I regard as being the great advance. They weren’t there 20 years ago.
              Food and service have always been good on Singapore, but it wasn’t really that that I was talking about.

              • Colonial Viper

                Oh yep, in that case I agree with you, there have been a lot of advancements in furniture and fitting design for both business class and first class over the last few years.

                A case of real competition and a true level playing field working.

  5. Gristle 5

    What a load of crap. Discussing the merits of different grades of airline tickets. Shit, is this Forbes magazine?

    Emirates marketing offers a titbits of its prestige brand to lift the sales of its bog standard product (the product that makes it profitable) and its endorsements all around.

    I’m surprised Hooten paid for first class. Maybe it’s recognition that he really isn’t all that good at pulling the right strings.

    Nowadays I choose halal food options just to flag my profile with Donald Trump.

    • sabine 5.1

      in his comment, the Mr. Hooton thanked the Taxpayer for his few First Class Tickets.
      Obviously why pay for something himself when he can just mooch of the Taxpayer.

      I am sure it was important business, and Mr. Hooton needed to be in Singapore and so on and so on . Moochers, some are better at it then others.


      • ianmac 5.1.1

        I think Matthew was referring to the time he worked for a Government Minister years ago. Taxpayer funded.

  6. I’ve noticed on Youtube ads with Jennifer Aniston in them. She is supposedly having a nightmare that she is not flying Emirates First Class.

    It’s all fairly predictable that in a society with increasing wealth and income inequality gradients – harking back to the 1920s and earlier – that these kinds of overblown consumption options are brazenly promoted.

    Production of goods and services in capitalism, after all, follows where wealth and income are distributed. The more it accumulates in fewer hands the more outrageous will be the attempts to lure it out of the clutches of those hands (humans are as susceptible to ‘supernormal stimuli’ as any other animal).

    But of course no mention is ever made of how rich you need to be in order to be considered anything other than advertising ‘by-catch’ by the companies that advertise their wares in this way.

    Just like those appeals to personal and social conceit in real estate adverts that talk of homes for ‘discerning’ buyers (rather than simply honestly describing them as homes for people who have access to sufficient wealth to spend stupendously ludicrous amounts on shelter and private refuge).

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