This generates a picture that borders on the Dickensian. Back in coach, low-born, vulgar ruffians pause their brawling to menace flight attendants with their brass knuckles and truncheons. Meanwhile, up in first class, the finer sorts of passengers are writing haikus or genteelly using their personal regurgitorium to make room for more of the pan-seared sirloin.
It turned out that there was a substantial increase in the likelihood of “air rage” among coach passengers when boarding required that they walk through the first-class section to get to their seats. Case closed — rub people’s noses in being on the losing side of inequality, resentment simmers and rotten behavior ensues (directed, of course, at flight attendants and fellow coach passengers, rather than at first-class passengers).
But then there was a wrinkle. Having coach passengers board through the first-class section also increased belligerent behavior in the FIRST-class passengers. The study authors wrote, “Situational inequality — boarding from the front (requiring walking through the first-class cabin) versus the middle of the plane — also significantly increases the odds of air rage in both economy and first class.” Forget fueling resentment back in coach; being reminded of class apparently fuels entitlement up in front of the flight as well.
So, maybe airlines haven’t made their alcohol exception because of the exemplary behavior of first-class passengers. Instead, it could simply be the bottom line — keep the booze flowing or the high rollers will take their business elsewhere. It’s no longer common for young royals to have whipping boys around to bear the corporal brunt of princely misdeeds, or for feudal lords to bed peasant women on their wedding nights by right. Nonetheless, there is the remote possibility that socio-economic rank still has its privileges.