THE ALCHEMY OF THE UPWARDLY MOBILE:
SYMBOLIC CAPITAL AND THE STYLIZATION OF ELITES IN FREQUENT-FLYER PROGRAMS

Crispin Thurlow & Adam Jaworski
Paper published in Discourse & Society, 17(1), 2006

This page
Indicative examples of the visual discourse of super-elite travel
(Source: Airline websites and related Business Class advertising)

Next page
Full listing of all data sources related to this paper

 

Elite for the Day – Yesterday, Continental Airlines said it will give full-fare passengers elite-travel frequent flier status for the day, including possible first-class upgrades and priority baggage tags for quicker baggage service. It is also instituting a no-middle-seat guarantee. In addition, Continental is setting up special priority lanes at 350 gates for elite-travel frequent fliers, creating a special, separate line for boarding the flight, complete with a blue carpet and gold stanchions. Continental will also let coach fliers who pay top dollar go through the speedy security checkpoints traditionally reserved for the airline’s best customers, where available. [Wall Street Journal, 16 September 2003]

 

GLOBAL
PLAYERS, COSMOPOLITAN
IDENTITIES

United Airlines (click for larger image)

"IT'S
ALL
ABOUT
YOU"

Qantas
The Business Class Experience

Flash Presentation (253 KB)
Windows Media Clip (9.39MB)
THE WORLD
IS YOUR
OYSTER

Northwest Airlines (click for larger image)

IT'S A MAN'S WORLD

v
zz
v
zz
Various frequent-flyer programs

MAKING
SPACE,
TAKING
SPACE

Emirates & British Airways (click for larger image)

RED
CARPET TREATMENT

 


From TunisAir's Espace Privilège program
STATISTICAL PANIC

N

AZN: Economy, Business & First Class Seats
Z

LEVELS
OF
LUXURY


Cathay Pacific's Marco Polo program

THE
SOCIAL
LIFE OF
THINGS

 


Left: Alitalia (click for larger image)
Right: Qantas Business Class
es
(click for larger image)
HIGH CULTURE, GOOD
TASTE

Lufthansa's Lounge Art (click for larger image)