Bernie Sanders was “caught” this week flying first class. So what if Bernie Sanders flies first class? Is it really a complete rescission of his moral imperatives?
Bernie “Caught” In First Class
Last week, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate was captured on another’s passenger’s phone sitting in a first-class seat. His “crime” was sitting in a “luxury” seat on a commercial plane. In defense of headlines suggesting he was caught, Senator Sanders does look caught in the act of doing something wrong but to be fair, I probably don’t look very much like a headshot when captured candidly.
Why This Appeared Controversial
Senator Sanders has railed against the top 1% of income earners, embraced the concept that there should be no billionaires and called himself a Democratic Socialist. He states that corporate excess and greed is the cause of the healthcare industry’s $100 bn annual profit at the expense of people who can’t afford to pay for their medicine.
He has also been pictured flying the middle seat in coach in the past and has eschewed expensive campaign fundraising dinners proudly stating that no billionaires have contributed to his campaign. While first-class on a domestic flight is not the same as flying private, it’s also not akin to the “Basic Economy” lifestyle he has otherwise embraced.
Why It Actually Supports His Ideology
The Sanders campaign has both the resources and necessities to hire a chartered private aircraft. Many campaigns have done this in the past, including past Democratic candidates. He flew commercial, and though he was not in steerage, he did fly like many of us do. Flying commercial in any seat is also far better for the environment than flying private due to carbon emissions on a per passenger basis.
Bumps, Free upgrades
We don’t actually know what ticket he bought. He might have bought a first-class ticket, maybe. But passengers are bumped from coach to first-class on oversold domestic flights all the time – and it’s a good bet that New Hampshire had plenty of busy flights this week. A sympathetic gate agent might have offered the upgrade as a courtesy or from a passenger supporter – many people I know have offered their upgrade up for someone else.
Miles, points, co-pays
He could have used miles, co-pay or upgrade instruments to move to the front, Bernie seems like the kind of guy that collects such things, but maybe not. Assuming he used one of these instruments to purchase his upgrade, would that not be reasonable? What about a status-based upgrade? He is likely earning plenty of elite qualifying miles these days.
Value for money, convenience
There are value-based benefits that suit someone with his schedule right now. Depending on the length of the flight there will be a meal or at least a snack, early boarding and quicker disembarkation, more privacy (he may be reviewing sensitive campaign or senate business), space to work, more recline to take a much-needed nap. He also can’t really afford to lose his luggage, so securing space on board is very important.
If he’s elected president, he’d be flying a much more expensive, much less environmentally-friendly 747 instead, this seems about as common as it gets.
This isn’t exactly champagne and caviar, it’s a domestic flight with a slightly larger seat for someone who is constantly on the road working very long days with a heart condition. He is a multi-millionaire and while he likely didn’t pay for his flight (the campaign would have) he’s earned the difference between coach and first-class, sometimes as little as $90.
What do you think? Does it matter if Senator Bernie Sanders sits in first-class or in coach? Does it clash with his ideals or is it a practical solution for a busy candidate?