Airline Downgraded John Kasich – But He Wouldn’t Leave First Class

Earlier in the month Alaska Airlines needed to bump a passenger from first class on a New York JFK to San Francisco flight for a pilot traveling to a duty assignment. The passenger they downgraded to economy was John Kasich, who just finished serving 8 years as Governor of Ohio and who sought the Republican nomination for President in 2016.

Only Governor Kasich didn’t leave the first class cabin, he sat down in another passenger’s seat instead.

Passenger Julie Klausner agreed to take a later flight rather than engage the drama. Alaska Airlines reimbursed the cost of the margherita flatbread she purchased while waiting an extra four hours.

It’s been reported that Kasich was asked to move to extra legroom coach (‘premium’) and also to 12F which I don’t think is an extra legroom seat on any Alaska aircraft (and we know that since this wasn’t the last flight of the day on the route that the aircraft was an Airbus A320). Here’s where he sat instead.

A Kasich spokesperson “attributed the whole ordeal to confusion, though didn’t elaborate on specifics.”

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. There have been several comments made here stating, unequivocally, that Alaska Airlines pilots have a contractual right to fly First Class on “deadhead” positioning flights. Does anyone know for certain if that is actually true? As well, others have stated that Kasich had been upgraded from Coach, and was being downgraded because of the last-minute seating issue in the F cabin, and that he was not travelling on a First Class fare. Again, can anyone say with certainty if that is true? No matter what, it DOES appear Kasich was applying the “Somebody may be losing their front cabin seat, but it won’t be ME because I’m a VIP” logic, which would be no surprise to anyone who has seen the video of Kasich screeching at length about a highway patrol officer daring to pull him over for speeding.

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