The Hordes are Coming!


My IPS colleague, Sam Pizzigati, has a feature in his newsletter on inequality, Too Much, he calls “Petulant Plutocrat of the Month.” Sam has no troubling identifying a different petulant plutocrat each month. When he used to publish on a weekly basis, he had no trouble identifying one a week.

Commercial break: If you’re interested in the subject of inequality, you should check  out Too Much at and subscribe.

Back to petulant plutocrats. Let’s call this woman Tammy and I encountered on a recent flight the “petulant wannabe plutocrat of the month.” She was obviously not a plutocrat, as she was merely flying first class, as opposed to owning her own jet. But she has the petulant part down pat. Here’s the scene:

Our friend had boarded the plane first with her fellow first-class travelers. For some reason, she had gone momentarily beyond the first-class section and was trying to return against the tide of coach passengers then boarding, Tammy and I among them. By then, she was just behind the last row of first-class, where her traveling companion was sitting. In a voice she had to have known was audible to all around to her, she exclaimed, “Ugh, the hordes are coming!”

That’s petulance, and it’s how far too many of our wealthiest view the rest of us.

Time for the pitchforks, if you ask me.


  1. You don’t have to encourage the use of pitchforks, Bob. The people passing through First Class already exhibit sufficient anger and hostility without any encouragement whatsoever. I usually take a window seat and work hard to avoid eye to eye contact with them. And if you think the woman you encountered was snippy, you should hear the comments of many of the people passing through First Class. I can’t tell you how many times I have had something “accidentally” dropped on me, and one time spilled on me, by more militant members of the “horde”. So rest easy, Bob, the pitchforks are not needed because class envy (at least airplane class envy) is alive and well and functioning just fine.

    • Steve, I fly fairly regularly, nearly always in coach and I have never witnessed anything besides people hustling to their seats as quickly as possible. If I can walk by the likes of Eric Cantor (back when he was in Congress on a flight to Houston), comfortably ensconced in his first class seat, without so much as pausing to glare at him, I’m highly doubtful that anyone is deliberately taking the time to drop things on you. Especially in an environment where raising the slightest ruckus can get one arrested.

      The second reason I doubt that people are deliberately prodding you is that flying is an expensive proposition, period. Everyone on every flight you take has shelled out hundreds of dollars (even if they’re flying free on points on that particular flight, it is because they have spent a whole bunch of money in the past). Poor people simply can’t afford to fly and most middle class people aspire to and admire people of higher economic class.

      The third reason is that anyone who flies regularly is familiar with the concept of the upgrade. I’ve been upgraded to first class before and so have many of my fellow coach denizens. When I pass through the first class section I assume they are as likely to be upgrades as they are to be filthy plutocrats. And at any rate I am just hustling to my seat as quickly as I can so I can put my bag under the seat and put my earbuds in or get back to reading my book.

      I’m not saying no one dropped anything on you. I am suggesting that it might not have been as intentional as you thought.

      • Donna, I think you are among the 99% of flyers whose only interest is getting to their seat and settled in to make the best of an uncomfortable flight. That 1%, though, seems to stand out quite extraordinarily. You are probably correct that most of the things dropped on me were the result of the hustle of just getting through to their seats. In any event, since I started sitting next to the window, it hasn’t happened to me again.

        Good luck on your future upgrades. When I have flown Coach, I found I just didn’t fit in the seats. I am 6’5″ and my legs are just way too long to fit into the space allowed.

        • You know, Steve, your back and forth with Donna actually relates to another elitist aspect of airline travel, but this one is more about the airlines themselves than their first-class passengers. Truth is, you arguably deserved to have things spilled on you, not for being a petulant plutocrat, but for buying into the moronic, elitist manner in which airlines have passengers fill planes. Any idiot could figure out that the passengers in the back rows should board first. If you lined the passengers up by descending row number, you probably could halve the time it takes to board the plane. But the airlines insist on treating the first-class passengers like royalty. They not only board first and get in everyone else’s way, but they have to be served while others are boarding, which is an insult to everyone else traveling.

          So, want to avoid having things fall on you? Then wait to board. Your seat still will be there when you do. And tell the airline why you waited.

          • I have thought about doing that, but then the boarding call comes and I get caught up in the fever of boarding as soon as possible. I know that is stupid, but it happens every time. I think of myself as being reasonably intelligent, but when it comes to flying (which I hate with a passion)I find myself caught up in the herd mentality of getting on the plane as soon as possible. After all, even in First Class, there is limited capacity in the overhead storage bins. ;o)

  2. We don’t need pitchforks just voter registration cards. Do the demographic math, the rich people have!

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