[Air-l] spa > slum

Barry Wellman wellman at chass.utoronto.ca
Fri May 31 10:47:43 PDT 2002

Kurt Reymer likens business class lounges to "spas".
Perhaps once, and yes, still in comparison to sitting by the gate.
But it is more Holiday Inn vs Motel 6, than Ritz-Carlton level.

Most people in business class lounges are there because of deals their
organizations have negotiated such privileges as part of their volume
purchases of air travel. Kurt is right that class is analytically useful,
but we have to specify which class. In class terms, the "road warriors"
who use them are not upper elite, but upper middle class. They have no
control over the means of production, but usually some control over the
terms of production. They are often technicans, as well as professionals
and managers.

As business lounges have gotten broader in their clientele -- and not just
elite -- they have changed. For one thing, they are pretty good on road
warrior production amenities: printer, internet plug-ins, desks for PCs,
lotsa phones. However, they provide much less reproduction/consumption
amenities: rarely any food altho lotsa beverages; seats are not good; CNN
blasts as irritatingly there as iin the main terminal. They are also not
as well maintained as 5 years ago, in accord with the general decline in
airline service. (My impressions come mostly from Air Canada, United,
American and Lufthansa.)

Kurt is also right that "road warrior" is a macho term (although I'd count
Xenia in when she gets a laptop and 800 number;-)). It is clearly a
marketing hype term that PC Magazine [and perhaps] others started using
5-7 years ago, originally with respect to people using laptops and their


  Barry Wellman        Professor of Sociology       NetLab Director
  wellman at chass.utoronto.ca   http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman

  Centre for Urban & Community Studies        University of Toronto
  455 Spadina Avenue   Toronto Canada M5S 2G8   fax:+1-416-978-7162

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