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Income Inequality — Jennifer Aniston Should Fly Coach

Check out the bar – Photo by 6Andy6

Published in ChicagoNow, March 14, 2016

Have you seen the commercial for Emirates Airlines with Jennifer Aniston? If you have, I’m sure you know why it pushes my fairness button. In it, Aniston is the poster child for income inequality. She faints when she discovers she is flying first class on an airline with no shower or bar. Poor girl.

Just out of curiosity, I looked into what it would cost me to travel like she does. I’m not likely to go to Dubai, but maybe I would fly from New York to Milan June 11 and come home June 18 (a girl can dream). That would only cost me $7,300 if I went Jennifer Aniston style. Or I could fly my style, coach on American for $823 with no add-ons. Wait, I can’t afford that flight either.

Most of us would never aspire to fly first class on an Emirates flight that includes these amenities:

  • Unwinding in your own Private Suite

  • Savoring gourmet meals served on Royal Doulton bone china plates with exclusive Robert Welch cutlery whenever you are in the mood to eat

  • Matching your meal with a fine wine selected by a sommelier

  • Reawakening your senses in an onboard Shower Spa

  • Preparing for your arrival using a selection of Bvlgari toiletries and signature Timeless Spa products (Swag, right?)

  • Replenishing your energy with your choice of detoxifying fresh juices

  • Making new friends as you snack on a selection of canapés and sip a refreshing cocktail served by a dedicated bartender

  • Choosing from up to 2,200 channels of the latest and greatest movies and must-see TV shows, on demand

Emirates recommends that I “master the art of me time.” Or I could travel the way everyone but wealthy businessmen and spoiled actresses fly. And since I’m not a rich actress like Jennifer Aniston, I will always choose the airline that offers me the lowest price seat. Unlike Jennifer, I will be crammed into a small seat with no arm space or legroom. I will be grateful if there is a place in the overhead bin for my suitcase, as I don’t want to pay extra for the privilege of checking my bag and waiting an extra half-hour to retrieve it. I will be hopeful that I get a free drink of water, juice, or soda.

Every time I see this ad, which pops up frequently on Morning Joe while I am on my exercise bike, I wonder just whom they are targeting. Is there someone out there who is watching Morning Joe because she agrees with Joe Scarborough and has both a ton of money and an inflated sense of self that make her want to fly Emirates? Does she think doing so will make her look like Jennifer Aniston?

Part of me thinks there is no such person. Emirates runs the ad to show us what we can’t have. Don’t even think about this. Our airline is so elitist it would not sell a ticket to the likes of you. Go fly with the 99.9 percenters. The top .1 percent of folks who want to watch their money literally go down the airplane shower drain while sipping on a cocktail like Jennifer don’t need to see this ad. Its sole purpose is to put the rest of us in our place, which is not on an Emirates flight.

This little rant is inspired by a commercial I loathe. I wish Jennifer would stick to hawking Aveeno products. We know she doesn’t use them but at least we can afford them at Walgreen’s and continue to think of her fondly as Rachel Green on Friends. You know. The funny girl-next-door with amazing hair. Instead, I see her as she probably really is: an extremely rich woman who will do almost anything to have even more money, even if it means pretending to be outraged that she can’t shower, eat on fine china, or go to the bar on an airplane.

This ad is really about income inequality. No way could most folks say, “I’ll have what she’s having.” Instead, most of us shake our heads in disbelief that there are a few folks who fly first class on Emirates, drive luxury cars, own several expensive homes, and make far more money than they need. And the rest of us are left to wonder how to find a cheap flight to visit family, make car payments, afford to buy or rent a modest home, and come up with the money every month to pay down our student loans.

To everyone involved in making this truly obnoxious commercial, I ask you to think about that famous line from the 1987 movie Wall Street: “Greed is good.” You are espousing the same values to a country that has suffered from growing income inequality in the almost 30 years since those words were uttered by Michael Douglas’s character, Gordon Gekko.

When there is an ever-widening gap between the extremely wealthy and everyone else, greed is not good. It’s oppressive and innately unjust.


by Laurie Levy
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