The Senior Director of Corporate Communications for Borden Dairy was flying American Airlines from Dallas Fort-Worth to Charleston, South Carolina with her CEO. The CEO insisted she take his first class seat. However she reports that an hour into the flight a flight attendant realized she wasn’t the passenger on the manifest. That’s when things got heated.
The American Airlines flight attendant ordered her back to coach. The passenger says this was done citing a “security issue.”
— Adrienne Chance (@msgatoradr) February 12, 2020
According to Borden Dairy CEO Tony Sarsam, he gave up his seat to his colleague because she had spent the last week in the hospital. Doing this led to a confrontation between the flight attendant and corporate CEO. The flight attendant threated to file an Inflight Disturbance Report. Here’s what one looks like:
The passenger, Adrienne Chance, contacted American Airlines customer relations who replied that the flight attendant was following proper procedure. That seemed reportable – that American had an official policy on changing seats, between cabins, on domestic flights.
It’s an ongoing debate amongst frequent flyers: whose seat is it, anyway? If you have a first class boarding pass you sit in your first class seat. But if you want to give up your first class seat, do you get to choose whom it goes to, or should it go to the next person on the upgrade list?
It was news to me that American had a rule on this, and sided with those who say the seat holder can’t just give up their seat. I reached out to American to confirm it. However a spokesperson though says that passengers “can switch seats – the only policy we have is they shouldn’t switch seats during a meal service.” As a result the customers “did not violate any rules.” American is “following up with the crew and both passengers.”
At American, at least, the first class seat holder can do with their seat as they wish as long as they do not interrupt service flow.
The only downside to this I see is that when a husband always takes the upgrade and leaves his wife in coach he cannot blame the airline and his policies for his selfishness. On the other hand it’s totally acceptable to make someone’s dream of flying up front come true.