Fans of the Cleveland Browns are in a lather over their rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel getting “stuck” in the middle seat on a recent flight on Southwest Airlines.
“Not only was Johnny Football in coach,” wrote Sam Galanis in his article about this non-event for NESN, “but he also was squished in the middle seat.”
So, you may ask, if it was no big deal then why did Galanis write about it, and, more importantly–why am I writing about it now?
Well, Galanis is a sports writer and, I suppose, any sports news is relevant to his job. This particular bit of news did get a lot of attention from fans of this rising football star and of the team.
Me, I write about aircraft interiors. Anything to do with aircraft seating and how passengers view the passenger experience interests me. This one in particular caught my eye because of the strong reaction fans had to seeing one of their heroes flying with the “plebs.”
Just look at this tweet:
Fighting words, if you ask me.
Why should Cleveland be embarrassed that one of their football players flies on a Low-Cost Carrier? And why should they mind it more because he was in the “middle seat in coach”?
It’s Southwest! The peanut of all peanuts. The inventor of open seating. There’s only coach. First Class on Southwest means you’re flying the plane. Manziel may be a talented quarterback, but he doesn’t have a pilot’s license.
This is all very curious because, when Prince William was recently spotted on an American Airlines aircraft, sitting in coach, everyone was thrilled.
Reporter Eli Ross was on the flight to Dallas/Fort Worth, captured the famous pic of Harry, and a lot of positive press ensued.
The American press were all over themselves with admiration and glee that Prince William flies coach.
The British press ran the story about the American press getting excited about this, then pointed out that this was nothing unusual as the Prince has been known to fly easyJet.
I dunno. Maybe it was because the Duke of Cambridge was seated on the window seat in front of the bulkhead that it made it all right.
Though easyJet has given us very nice metrics on what seats their passengers prefer, it does not show the level of caché associated with that seat. It’s a gap in easyJet’s data gathering.
The airline does not reveal what seats the future king and his family prefer when they fly. But, if we are to believe the easyJet statistics (I do), passengers often sit in the middle seat to be next to their partners. Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, likely sat by the window and The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, fittingly, in the middle seat.
Mind you, Prince William is a pilot (though not a commercial aircraft pilot) and he might ask to at least sit in the easyJet jump seat if he wanted. He would then have to leave Kate in coach alone, possibly in the middle seat, which I don’t think he’d like to do.
So, in that regard, both Manziel and Prince William are in the same boat (airplane). Neither could or would upgrade to the cockpit when flying budget.
Unlike John Travolta who prefers to fly the plane himself, whenever possible.
So, I ask you, is there a double standard? Are English royalty allowed to ride coach, but not future football stars?
Are American football fans, at least fans of the Cleveland Browns, Aircraft Seat Snobs?
Fans of “proper” football seem to find it amusing that their stars fly in Business on certain airlines, or at least those airlines have been successful with their viral campaigns showing those other football players flying Business.
This particular commercial featured Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and included American basketball star Kobe Bryant. I suppose American basketball fans were OK with this because Bryant sat in Business Class, not coach.
While I’m at this, can I mention that Lionel Messi, the star Forward of FC Barcelona is the spokesperson for Turkish Airlines, while FC Barcelona is the official partner of Qatar Airways? Awkward.
Does this mean they give Messi a coach seat when he flies Qatar? If they did would any “proper” football fans care?
With the biggest football contest of all time coming up, several airlines have dedicated whole aircraft to their teams.
According to Lufthansa, their “Fanhansa” aircraft was equipped with eight first class seats, 56 Business Class seats and 229 seats in Economy. The airline stated that: “The in-flight service for the night flight will be similar to the Lufthansa Business Class service offered on South American routes.” But it wasn’t very clear who sat where.
Presumably, no one had to sit in coach, as there are enough seats at the front (First and Business) to fit the entire team. Maybe entourage was in the back.
I couldn’t find it in the not-so-exhaustive search I made on the question, but there must be #AvGeeks out there who know.
Please tell me in the comments below. While you’re at it, let’s look into who’s sitting where on the other team airplanes too.
Or not. Because I don’t suspect football fans will care much. If their team comes back with the cup–it’s all good.
My point with all of this: Is the world on its head? Should we really judge a person by where they sit on an aircraft? Should we judge ourselves by where we sit?
Seat Snobbery is just that–snobbery. Perhaps it’s human nature. Perhaps this is just a fun post for me to write on a Sunday.
People like Johnny Manziel are cool. They don’t take themselves too seriously, and would rather judge themselves by their performance than their status.
Manziel told Cleveland.com, when asked about his romp in Vegas (from where he was returning on the controversial Southwest flight):
“I don’t live my life according to you guys or according to what other people think of me.”
Good for you, kid!
And heck, it seems he cares about his fans and that they were pretty thrilled to meet him. As a star, how much brighter can you get?
Featured Image: Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 N231WN, Image by Dylan Ashe via Wikimedia Commons