Is It “Privilege” To Demand A Clean Seat From An Airline?

Remember when airlines pushed messages through their apps, and in announcements, that your flight was both cleaned and sanitized prior to boarding? That was only just a few months ago.

During the pandemic passengers expected an elevated level of clean. Most of that stemmed from early misunderstandings of how the virus spread, and from a failure of public health professionals to clearly message updates. It’s a shame we didn’t expect much clean before that.

When first class passengers objected to wine covering their seat, they’re put on blast by another passenger for ‘privilege’ because cleaning up the spill takes time and delays other passengers. And the people whose job it is to clean planes had to come on to clean the plane.

1) I've never been so disgusted w/ "privilege"-flying home on a red eye- 2 passengers in first class complain that their seats are not clean (wine in the empty console and some on the seat.)Instead of cleaning it..they request that the cleaning crew re clean- delaying the flight. pic.twitter.com/ZsjPinHvn8

— Jotaka Eaddy (@JotakaEaddy) September 9, 2022

3) I know this is a frivolous rant but my goodness give workers grace sometimes.. it made me so upset to watch the cleaning crew come back to simply wipe these privileged and entitled passengers seats. Sorry @AmericanAir – maybe it's policy but it just didn't feel good to watch.

— Jotaka Eaddy (@JotakaEaddy) September 9, 2022

When I’ve questioned broken first class seats, I’ve been asked “do you want us to delay everyone in order to fix it?” I’m genuinely surprised that American Airlines did more here than paper towels because bringing on cleaning crew does take time and jeopardizes an on-time departure. Every minute spent cleaning is a minute before being able to get into the air. That’s why the D in D0 stands for dirty.

Dirty planes, almost regardless of airline, may be the third most common social media complaint – behind damaged luggage and being required to gate check bags when there’s still space in the overhead bin.

Finally onboard, and living in the filth of the people before us.

These dirty napkins were on the seat when we got to them. pic.twitter.com/FxgcboMiNf

— Chop0987 (@chip09871) September 9, 2022

The real shame here is pitting customers against each other. Each passenger has a reasonable expectation, I think, that their seating area will be clean. And it’s up to the airline to deliver that while still departing on time, and to do so prior to boarding. By reaching the point of departure that creates the tradeoff where one passenger’s expectation for clean is ‘privilege’ over other passengers (who themselves likely already have clean seats) who wish to depart right away.

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