Evangelical Pastor Loses It Over Wife’s First Class Upgrade on Alaska Airlines

An evangelical pastor attacked his wife on Alaska Airlines because she was upgraded, and he wasn’t.

The pair were traveling on Alaska flight 275 from Seattle to Anchorage on Tuesday of last week. Seventy five year old Roger Allan Holmberg Sr. “flipped [his wife] the bird” on board the aircraft and assaulted her upon discovering that she has Mileage Plan elite status.

  • They were traveling through Seattle to Anchorage and on the second flight segment she was upgraded. Shortly into the flight he comes up to first class and demands, “How the hell did you get the upgrade?”

  • She replies, “I’m [an MVP] gold point member,” and he snaps back, “Don’t speak to me like that.”

  • He returned to first class later, having written out a message for her to read on his phone. He hands it to her and “gave [her] the finger.”

  • And then on his third visit up front he tried to “swing his arm towards” her. Her seatmate blocked him from hitting her, but he still “appeared to strike the top of victim’s head with his hand.” His wife says he’s “roughed her up in the past.”

  • There was an off-duty police offer in the next row forward who threatened the pastor with arrest if he didn’t stop.

Alaska Airlines First Class

Cabin crew notified the cockpit, who had an FBI agent meet the aircraft on arrival in Anchorage. The pastor told the agent that he and his wife are in counseling, but that she’s entirely at fault for their problems – which sounds sort of true, in that she made the causal error of marrying him a year and a half ago. (She’s his second wife.)

He was arrested and charged with simple assault, and faces up to a year in prison. Alaska Airlines has banned him from future travel (including from his return flight).

Frequently when I’m on the same reservation as my wife I’m asked whether or not we’d want to split up if only one of us clears the upgrade. I’ve also been the beneficiary of couples who choose not to split, and remain in coach, and are therefore skipped over when processing last minute upgrades at the gate.

In my own view if you love someone you don’t want them to suffer coach. If the airline offers an upgrade, you want your partner to have it! But you do suffer something of a Gift Of The Magi problem, where each of you wants the other to benefit from the upgrade.

(HT: Paul H)

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. The man is likely wrong and nuts. However, without knowing the full story, there is a possibility that he is sane. For example, maybe his wife is a travelling sex worker and got status that way. He suspected it and found out that she has secretly been traveling for that reason.

    Another possibility is that she is a secret fundraiser for Hamas, flying frequently SEA-DTW and SEA -LAX to raise money. He found out about it on the flight.

    I might add that these two scenarios are extremely unlikely but that we don’t know all the facts.

  2. I would give up first or business to my wife in a heartbeat, I have even given it up to coworkers who need it more than me at times.

  3. Just swing at whoever if someone else gets the upgrade and you don’t that’s what any good self respecting FF should do

  4. Most of those selling vitue, are hypocrites. If they only recognized living by example far outweighs collecting cash from people that need pastors from any brand.

  5. Counseling isn’t enough. He’s unsafe to be around. Not all preachers are good people.

  6. Many (most?) evangelical preachers are as big a fraud as the “emotional support animals” that people insist on bringing onto flights.

  7. Backatcha Al – he seems more like the current president – he’s old and anger is a common symptom of dementia, Maybe his congregation will get him to step down.

  8. Had two First Class seats returning from Orange County to Portland after my daughters graduation. She decided to fly back with us and then her older sister switched flights so all four of us were on the same flight.

    My wife and me in economy in their seats, they in ours in First Class. I guess my wife and I are not Pastor material.

  9. I’m MVP Gold, and have been for years. Sometimes my wife achieves MVP status, but most years she doesn’t fly enough to qualify. When we fly together, if I’m upgraded, you bet I’m giving it to my wife (or turning it down, if she insists on being together, as she will on a long[er] flight).

  10. @Derek You are absolutely correct. Who knows the real story about anything that happens in the world. You could be a monkey for example. And just happened to pound out a few coherent sentences while playing with your owners keyboard. We will never know. The world is certainly mysterious.

  11. wow, what is wrong with some of you people?


  12. Al, Ken, what is wrong with you? This has NOTHING to do with politics.
    Sit down and shut up

  13. Spiteful, hateful, and hurts others. I’d say that he should be more Christian, except that he’s already a perfect example of a Christian.

  14. Another disgusting MAGA preacher obsessed with their imaginary friend in the sky. Vile human being.

  15. @Derek no there is no sane reason to be striking your spouse in public no less. Shaking my head how men make pathetic excuses for each other.

  16. That’s gotta be one of the commandments of couple’s air travel. “Thou shalt giveth thy upgrade or thy finger to thy wife”

    Or AUStin 3:16 says “If you wanna see me flip my wife off because I didn’t get an upgrade, gimme a hell yeah!!!”

  17. There’s nothing wrong with discussing politics, but in this case, nothing in the article had anything to do with politics nor is there any indication that he holds any particular political view. Even if he does, it’s not as if one party supports wife beating. Turning it into an attack on Republicans is as senseless as turning it into one on Biden.

  18. Gotta love when the people who professionally study and preach The Bible somehow miss out on the parts by some guy named Jesus.

  19. Sounds like he is the kind of guy who should be prohibited from owning a firearm and needed to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law instead of repeatedly getting a free pass (and any upgrades).

    A very religious (since deceased) acquaintance told me that there is no more unholy a person than a person who publicly preaches religion and privately behaves in a way that lacks empathy and kindness for the vulnerable and gullible. Way too many sociopaths seem attracted to exploiting the sensibilities of the religious and vulnerable and gullible by becoming “religious leaders”. Therefore it’s natural for such “religious leader” types to cozy up to political and business figures and support political ideologies that are less about humanity than selfishness and self-serving sycophancy.

  20. My wife and I both have Alaska MVP Gold status. When we travel together we always book individual tickets – and race to see who can book the flight first because, all things being equal on the tickets and fares, it’s first to book who gets upgraded when there is only one upgrade seat available. FWIW, if I get upgraded I always offer the upgrade to my wife – premium is fine by me! I reserve the use of my fingers for a cocktail and my laptop, not for sign language. 😉

  21. Possibly she got all of those points flying with someone else and this confirmed some suspicions for him. She seemed, ahem, unrepentant.

  22. In the US, infidelity by the target of an assault provides no legal immunity to the perpetrator of the assault.

  23. HE IS A MAN OF THE LORD! What a wasted opportunity to show some humility, good cheer and being happy for your spouse. Good grief.

  24. Sums up priests in a nutshell. Keep voting for Poopy Pants Trump and this will be legalised

  25. @Gary, “she’s entirely at fault for their problems – which sounds sort of true, in that she made the causal error of marrying him” I will attempt to give you credit when I use this line in the future.

  26. I would say “rock/paper/scissors?” regardless of whether my partner or I get the upgrade. I’ve never had a GF or spouse who wouldn’t say “OK.” If it was a long flight, we’d both probably go 50/50.

  27. I use my double headed coin to always snag that last first-class seat off my wife. I’ve called it right six times in a row now and she’s starting to get a little suspicious, so I’ll have to come up with something else. That aside, I laugh at anyone that actually takes any life advice from a MAGA preacher or any preacher for that matter.

  28. They definitely have issues and sadly he blames her for everything. I’d like to know what happened to his first name. Has no place behind the pulpit.

  29. Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    They definitely have issues and sadly he blames her for everything. I’d like to know what happened to his first wife. Has no place behind the pulpit.

  30. The fact that he has a “fan club” as a preacher tells you all you need to know about this guy…

  31. He certainly appears to have a more dire need for the upgrade. After all a tiny coach seat would clearly not accommodate his inflated ego or his giant asshole. His wife is clearly at fault for thinking she shouldn’t jump to accommodate his needs. She’ll be reminded of this fault at least five times a day until he’s incapable of contacting her either due to incarceration or an accidental strike to the head as fire and brimstone spews from his mouth (and cellphone).

  32. People need to read the bible, at least once. Whereas John 3:16 promises eternal life for all. . . It does not promise heaven for all. For some that insist on speaking on behalf of the Bible and are not truthful for any reason: Matthew (12: 31-32) with respect to the assorted blaggards, liars , MAGA aficionados, enthusiasts, and evangeliners,

  33. The two shall become one flesh, huh, Pastor? How you gonna explain away Ephesians 5:25-32? “each man must love his wife as he loves himself”? Come to think of it, why should I listen to anything you say? Hopefully you were fired before you got home; failing that, your congregation found another church.

  34. I have always given my upgraded seat to my wife (or other older family members) as I’m the only one in my extended family who has status. I would give my life to save my wife’s so giving up my upgrade is tiny in comparison.

    She has only taken me up once when I pushed her hard. Usually, she either insists that I take the upgrade for myself or tells me that we are sitting together in coach. 🙂

  35. What a pathetic loser. Bet his “Fan Club” has just one fan, himself. How could she have missed the signs and married him?

  36. Project2025 requires all upgrades go to men. Their pregnant, barefoot, non-voting wives get the middle seats in the back of the bus

  37. Really now! Insulting the rest of Christins by including us in the pastors wrong doing? True followers of Christ don’t act like him, nor do most people who support Trump. Now, what the man did to his wife is his own wrongdoing, don’t include others in it.
    I think she should leave the jerk. He sounds like a first class narcissist, and why he is still a pastor is beyond me!

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