29,000 air miles v. v. bad

The Guardian’s commitment to the environment has always stopped short of its Saturday Travel section (“Inside: Fly to China!, next week: Fly to the Pacific!”) but it now appears that its commitment to social justice and income equality stops there too.

An unwelcome recent arrival in the travel section is something called the “Business Travellers’ Diary”, written by one Max Levene. Mr Levene describes himself as a management consultant, and he’s either a very good one or has a private income, because every column so far (here’s one example) has reeked of luxury and smugness. Five star hotels, exclusive membership clubs, and of course all those thousands of miles farting CO2 into the atmosphere, lovingly detailed at the head of the column every week like a cross between Mr. Potter and Bridget Jones. Before writing this I spent twenty minutes trying to work out whether it was actually very convincing satire.

I don’t mind wealth porn existing, I just want it to stay where it belongs: in the pages of Hello magazine and the FT’s How to Spend It section – though given the profile of FT readers, perhaps the latter is more a wealth Kama Sutra. And yes, I know I could just turn the page and move on, but there’s something disheartening about this appearing in the Guardian without acknowledgement of how out of touch with most people’s reality it is, or the massive dissonance between this and the paper’s wider political positions.

I don’t object to Mr Levene having such a wonderful life, though I do object to his flying so much. I just don’t feel the need to hear about it, or for it to be held up as the sort of thing one should aspire to. We may be heading back to the Gilded Age in this country, and I don’t do too badly myself, thanks, but at least the Carnegies and Rockefellers took the train from time to time.

My favourite crass advice (source):

Downsizing? Cutting costs? Don’t be fooled, flying economy is a catastrophe. Fly business in Europe; and try to fly first for long haul.

Thanks, Max, I’m sure I can find that extra two grand or so just lying around behind the sofa.