IS A commercial jumbo jet a more or a less equal place to be than America? An odd question, perhaps, but bear with me. Air passengers can watch the gap between the haves and have-nots widening, as the space contracts between the knees and chin of those in economy class, seemingly by the day. Meanwhile the lucky few at the front of the plane are becoming ever-more pampered, with flat beds, bars and even showers.
Beth Berman, a sociologist at SUNY Albany, passing a bored moment on a flight, decided to calculate the Gini index for passenger planes. The Gini coefficient is a way to measure the statistical distribution of income. The higher the index, the more unequal the society. After a some quick back-of-the-fag-packet maths, Ms Berman worked out that:
…in today’s standard U.S. domestic configuration, the 12% of people in first class use about 25% of the passenger space, the 51 people in Economy Plus use another 30%, leaving the sardines—the other 157 people—with 45%. That gives us a Gini index of about 16.
Transatlantic flights, however, are increasingly taking this in-the-air distinction to new heights (ha ha). Take, for…Continue reading