How did you travel this year? How far did you go?

To many of us, relating travel, wealth and hunger probably only means that when we travel, we get just a drink and peanuts on a flight. But there are other connections that can and should be made as we think about the opportunities for airline travel for many of us today.

A recent article from the Washington Post (July 7, 2023) made me reconsider my most recent airline travel. The author of the article, Michelle Singletary, realized that the price of seats on airlines is a perfect analogy for the wealth gap in America. She, like me, was sitting rather uncomfortably on a long-distance airline flight in economy class.

The middle class, in our American economy, has become smaller and smaller in the past 50 years. Those years correlate with the times that I have been an airline passenger. I know well that the seats are smaller and rows closer together. Flying in economy class is definitely not as comfortable as it was when I took my first flight in the “cheap seats.” Extra fees for baggage, window and aisle seats, and other upgrades in seating are apparent. Who boards first? Whose carry-ons fill every bin?

The same is true for many people in our country. A college education, a home of one’s own, even a used car, and much more have become less and less affordable for many considered “middle class.” What about those who live below the middle class? The ones for whom hunger is often a constant in their lives?

A report from Oxfam, an international advocacy group, reminds us that “A tax of up to 5% on the world’s multimillionaires and billionaires could raise $1.7 trillion a year, enough to lift two billion people out of poverty and fund a global plan to end hunger.” Likely that would not affect you and me. And I, like most of you, am still able to fly!

Think about that while you eat a good dinner tonight.

Vernita Kennen
Incarnation, Shoreview