WizzAir CEO: business class is unethical

During my professional career my ability and skill in seeing the end game of any particular strategy or set of events, has been at the core of my business.

WizzAir’s CEO has said what we all really know has to be the case. “Flying business class is unethical”.

We don’t want to hear it. We don’t want to think about what it really means and we dread being told that such a thing is in fact, the reality we should all face.

“Unethical” is an interesting word to use. That’s an appeal to our morality and our values. It says that those of us who fly business class (and I do long haul when it’s over 7 hours), are in effect immoral. We are behaving in an unethical way. We’re doing it because we can afford it and we’re being selfish for our own comfort. We are ignoring the consequences of our actions.

We use more fuel, we cause more emissions. The answer that we paid for it with money is irrelevant. Money on its own doesn’t stop global warming.

And that’s why it’s unethical. And that’s why he’s right and I absolutely agree with him.

You see in the end, the emissions issue can only be addressed more efficiently and effectively if anything other than basic economy is abolished. It’s the only conclusion.

It’s human selfishness that will prevent it. Some people don’t care, don’t want to and even don’t believe there’s a problem.

One person I know said to me only half in jest, “what have future generations ever done for me?”.

And he has a point, however twisted. He sees it that he wants to do what he wants to do and the future, past his death is irrelevant. It won’t bother him.

As we enter a period where more private jets are sold than ever, when we’re about to enter the age of supersonic business class travel, what do we do? Ban it or let it happen?

Money and wealth allow these options to become viable. For the few.

But if all of us want to travel as often as we do and in the numbers we do, we can’t let a super rich few do whatever they want.

It’s not the way we’ve been brought up, not to want to achieve the best, to have a better life for ourselves, to enjoy the perks of our financial success.

Air travel is available to everyone – to keep it that way we might have to accept the way we fly might have to change. Somehow I can’t see the airlines seeing it that way. Until they have to.

So let’s deal with the other aspect of this statement from an airline executive. Wizz is a ULCC. It has every interest in undermining business class travel – especially on short haul.

Guilty people flying in European business class especially – which is more about ticket flexibility than a better seat these days, are the targets to a degree. It’s business CFO’s who are the real targets. What he’s saying is true but what he’s really saying is “CFO’s shouldn’t be letting anyone fly in anything other than basic economy”. And that trend is already well underway as he well knows.

So business ethics – profitability, costs are really his target. Just when you thought an airline CEO was actually taking the moral high ground. Just another PR stunt. Only this time a closer to the mark than was probably intended.