Husband Books Himself In Business Class, Wife In Coach (He’d Promised Her Premium Economy)

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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. Back when I flew for business on a weekly basis, I had a gentleman with his wife and kids board my TWA flight to STL. He kissed her and the kids as they went back into “Comfort Class” and he sat in First Class. I thought. . .what a jerk.

  2. Had a SIL who dated a narcissist d-bag who took her on a “romantic” trip to Paris. The lucky boy had enough FF miles for one biz class seat so he took it and let her go in coach. That relationship did not last much longer.

  3. I need a ruling on this:

    What if a couple book one business and one economy, and then switch seats mid-flight? Are we aligned that this couple deserves, at minimum a death stare from other business class seat holders?

  4. @sukwinder You’re not allowed to switch cabins midflight. When I’ve had family in both cabins, the folks seated in J were allowed to visit folks in Y, but not vice versa.

    And for the record, my wife was always in J when we split things up!

  5. I haven’t done it yet but personally my wife has given me permission to abandon her with the kids in coach for overnight flights. I have medical issues that would make sleeping while sitting up a fairly bad idea. I mean you never know the situation but something like this is possible. Also who knows maybe he has a business meeting and needs to sleep (or has his business class ticket paid for by his company) and is bringing the family along on for the vacation – quite possible too.

  6. Linking to a site that also contains a link to “Did OJ Simpson’s Son Jason Kill Nicole Brown & Ron Goldman?” means I really have saved a lot of time by only checking in here occasionally.

  7. Your post is not evident for some reason. Without reading it, I can see why a couple with kids would travel in separate cabins. Children might not be well behaved so they travel in coach. Parent 1 could be flying to destination and parent 2 could be flying return leg. There could be a baby and out of respect they sit in economy. It probably isn’t what most people assume the reason is.

  8. There isn’t a perfect system for airlines to address upgrade situations. Being AA ExPlat, I mostly get upgraded automatically. On my last trip to Hawaii, I bought my own ticket, and only had enough points for economy for my wife and daughter. At booking I was booked next to them, but just before boarding; I was upgraded. I tried to declined offer, but the gate agent said this was sone by the system. Since my itinerary had just me, and my family had a different itinerary. System didn’t recognize my companions. They gave my economy seat away already as it was a full flight. Previous Hawaiian trip, I had enough point to have my wife and daughter in FC, but my automatic upgrade didn’t come through. I sat in economy. On another flight we all got upgraded, but this maybe not nice, but one jerk refused switch sear, so we couldn’t sat together in FC. Oh well. If you are rich enough to buy all FC. That’s the only way to guarantee upgrades.

  9. The husband in biz and wife/kid in coach story has been making the rounds for years. Or maybe it’s the same story, just retold. Once a female has children, her life options narrow significantly. The obvious choice for the woman is to divorce the jerk, since he’s made it crystal clear how little he cares for her. Without the ability to support themselves and their children, many women are forced to stay married to these men. And the men know it. Scrutinize your husband’s attributes when deciding to become a mother or stay as you are. Think carefully, ladies, your choice will affect the rest of your life.

  10. Years ago, I was on a flight from JFK to Seoul, Korea. The husband was in business and the wife in coach. We had a nice chat until I asled him if he was going to switch with her at the halfway point. He did not speak to me for the rest of the flight.

  11. I would rather 14 hours of pain instead of the next 20 years. Quite a few times we had to split up and I always gave my wife the upgrade

  12. My travel is almost exclusively personal rather than business, so it has different nuances from those road warriors who are paid to travel routinely.

    I am 6’5″, my wife is 5’1″. Our children are significantly smaller than my wife – I easily outweigh all three of them combined. Most seats are too small for me and most seats (even in economy) are huge for my wife and kids. I also now take blood thinners from DVT resulting from blood clots in one leg, apparently triggered by taking long flights shortly after ultramarathons run all over the world. While we normally all fly the same class – first class when we can, business or premium economy when economical – she gives me carte blanche to move up if prompted. We are never separated by more than one class or more than a few rows. Even then, knowing I need the leg room, it feels awful to be separated from my family for more than a short period during flights. We do, however, try to meet their seating priorities, and ensure, whenever possible, that the kids have window seats.

    A purser on Cathay Pacific even let me bring my then two-year old son into FC on the HKG-SFO routes since my son and his mother were only a few rows back in business. My son’s wonderful CX business class seat and service were wasted because he only wanted to sit with his mother or me, like he always did when he hadn’t yet turned two.

    There are other solutions, of course , such as only fly when I can afford first class for everyone. In any family, the family members should make decisions that are their own and not reflective of the values of others. However, any man who promises his wife one thing and substitutes something else substantially less has some explaining to do to his wife (not the blogosphere). If he couldn’t afford premium economy for her and their child as he had promised, he needed to explain that and let her cancel their trip participation, if preferred.

  13. @Gary. *OLD* and Fake News. If you read the Daily Mail, The Sun, The Daily Mirror and other upstanding UK publications then you likely read this last week.
    The rest of the story: He didn’t book himself Business Class. His employer was paying for it; they booked it. He used his points for his wife to tag along. Noted that he did not book her for a lap infant. They both had a seat. I doubt he “promised” Premium Economy, but who knows.
    But in the words of the All-Knowing and Infinitely Wise Mrs. Woofie (who books herself into coach): What’s all the fuss about? She got to hang out on a free trip didn’t she?

  14. @highperf: I suppose you do now know that clotting factors rise yugely after ultras etc??? I still have that piece of research filed on my hard drive. That’s not all, one of my coached athletes was confined in the hospital for suspected heart attack after a hard 50K just because of all the creatine kinase in her blood. She was fine; she’d just run a hard PR.

  15. @Woofie: I did NOT know beforehand, but I am well aware now, although I would love to see your stored research. Glad your coached athlete was fine (and nailed a PR!). The light bulb came on for me after my wife took me to the emergency room when one entire leg swelled up skin tight without any obvious provocation. Now I am on blood thinners indefinitely. As a certified Marathon Maniac and more craziness, I used to pride myself on my efficiency by taxiing from the race finish line to the airport still in my racing singlet to catch my flight home after races to ensure I not miss any work days. Obviously, I would choose a different course of action with what I know now.

  16. Compared to those guys on Deadliest Catch getting yeeted overboard into 5 story waves in below freezing waters so I can have some Alaskan crab on my plate is nothing compared to the job of being a mother. Which is why make sure my girlfriend in whatever country I visit is going to pick me up at the airport.

  17. Some years ago, when traveling from London to New York on Continental, my husband was flying in business and I was in coach. He’s a romantic guy, and wanted to give me his seat, and when he asked the purser, as we were boarding, if it was okay, the purser really lit up. Of course it’s okay, he said, and then motioned to a flight attendant that “this guy” (my husband) gets anything he wants. He was well taken care of for about an hour. Then, someone in coach had a problem with her seat and there was only one empty seat on the plane; it happened to be in business class. The purser moved that passenger to my husband’s seat and him — to business class. I had no idea he was two rows behind me for about a half hour. What a delightful surprise and an all-around heartwarming experience…..

  18. When I get upgraded but my wife does not I trade my F class seat with the stranger sitting next to my wife in the back. To see the look on peoples faces (including my wife) is so worth it.

  19. My wife travels with me (depending on location) when I go overseas for work. Since I always travel business class for work, I always try to get a biz class seat for my wife too. If there are no available seats in biz class then I always get her a first class seat. That is the way it should be.
    This guy is a scumbag and a jerk. End of the story.

  20. I’m a huge guy, and economy sized seats just aren’t an option. Thankfully, through the use of credit card miles, I’m always able to book into business, and since I always travel with my wife, she’s also booked into the seat next to me. Obviously, we could cover more ground and have more options available if one of us was in economy, and my wife has regularly suggested that she would be willing to sit in the back, while I’m up front, if it meant even more travel…. but I’m not stupid. I’m NOT falling for that bait. There is no chance in hell that wouldn’t come back to bite me in the ass.

    However…. when we travel with the kids and grandkids and spring for the tickets.. oh yeah.. they’re in economy. I feel no guilt whatsoever watching them slug by us while boarding the plane. None at all. But my wife.. yeah, she’s either seated up front with me or we’re not going.

    If she’s not travelling with me, then she will often book into economy, especially if the kids are travelling with her. And that’s great. She’ll come back muttering about it occasionally… I have definitely spoiled her over the last 10 years, and it’s tough to go back… but as long as I’m not enjoying paradise while she’s suffering in the back, it’s all good.

  21. On a recent trip where we were both booked in coach I was upgraded and my wife was not. Switched boarding passes in the gangway; no hesitating, no asking for permission, etc.

  22. Frank N. is spot on. If my wife travels with me, she is always in the same class and we sit together. Most of the time that is in business or first class. If only one ticket is upgraded because of airline status, she gets that upgraded ticket. End of story. Height isn’t part of the equation, as I’m 6’5″ and my wife is a foot shorter.
    The fellow who sat for 14 hours at the front of the plane while his wife and child sat in steerage is a cad. Hope that his wife cleans him out in divorce court!

  23. Extremely misleading title. If you actually read the story, he was booked in J by his company, asked his wife and kid to come along. Yes, he didn’t book PE like his wife asked, but HE didn’t book J on his own. @Gary, do better…this is a pretty pathetic attempt to get clicks.

  24. A real man would let his wife travel in business class and look after his child in coach. He could do some bonding with his child.

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