Man Stands in Aisle for 6 Hour Flight So His Wife Could Sleep: Sweet or Toxic Marriage?

Three years ago I wrote about husbands who fly business class while their wives fly coach. Last year the Washington Post‘s relationship columnist told a woman whose boyfriend flies up front while he pays for her to fly coach that she should dump him: “His wife sat alone in coach: His epitaph writes itself.”

Usually stories are about men flying up front while wives or girlfriends are in back. It’s rarely the women who are treated well in these stories. Chivalry, though, isn’t dead.

A man reportedly stood in the aisle for a full six hour flight so his wife could sleep in their seats. (HT: Paul H.)

Was he being selfless, or was she being selfish? Should they have just contorted themselves so that they could both sleep, her head in his lap and his head.. somewhere?

And is it ok to stand in the aisle as long as the seat belt sign is on, common space for everyone, or is it rude to block the aisle?

Sometimes couples just don’t like each other that. Over the holidays last fall two American Airlines flights had to divert when couples got into fights on board.

To me I just love to see someone who puts their partner’s happiness above their own in the Hobbesian ‘war of all against all’ that’s today’s modern skies.

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. This didn’t happen. No FA would allow it. Let me count the ways….
    And what about the people near him standing! No way, no how.

  2. I am surprised the flight attendant allowed this. What happened to the requirement to wear seat belts?

  3. More idiotic flyers. zero consideration for anyone else.

    This isn’t about whether he was a saint or simply stupid, it is more about how desperate someone must be to sleep and can’t lean back and close their eyes, or invoke the drug of choice.

    If you need sleep that badly on a six hour flight, then you probably shouldn’t be flying.

    Perhaps she is sick or has some real issue, but again, should she be on a long flight?

    Since I value business class upgrades at $50 per hour, if I were having to stand I would increase that to at least $100 per hour, so why couldn’t he put her up front for $600 plus some miles or whatever?

  4. The article doesn’t state why the man stood there. Just that he did. No one knows if the wife had a big presentation right after the flight landed while the husband was there for support or what if the wife was sick? Sometimes in relationships you make a sacrific for the other person and you do not think its that unreasonable while others outside of the relationship do. Regardless of his reason the gesture seems nice and not that big of a request. I can see how people would be upset ohh the man stood in the asile in my view the whole time or I couldnt pass him ect seems like silly negative comments of jelousy that people make to find an excuse as to why something is unacceptable. If the man stood there for 6 hours and none of the flight attendents considered it a problem then there is no harm to anyone else.

  5. A picture, a caption and everyone else thinks they have a right to judge the couple? Quite often, people’s comments portray their own perception about men, women and their own family dynamics. Could it be that the family went through a rough time the night before? Maybe they are returning or flying to a family member’s medical emergency?

  6. Wow! Maybe she was up all night with her dying mother. Man you guys are terrible. You don’t know the back story. Don’t make judgments until you know the details.

  7. Agree with Carolyn. This is a “reportedly” story…..we don’t even know if it is true! And if true, we don’t know the backstory. Maybe she was enroute to a medical center for an organ transplant! Maybe he has back issues and cannot sit for 6 hours. AND just maybe it was not actually 6 hours.
    And remember, this is Sunday….. always a slow news day for this blog.

  8. Hmmmmmm. While what Carolyn says is true, we do not know the whole story, all I can think is what happened if they hit some unexpected severe turbulence.

    He’d have a fractured skull and spinal injuries and she’d be messed up to as she was unlikely to have been strapped in while sleeping across multiple seats.

    Chivalry? Sure, great but also dangerous as hell and yes, blocking an aisle isn’t exactly convenient for flight attendants or fellow passengers!

  9. if my boyfriend were so tired, i would gladly stand and let him sleep. it’s ok and even good to be the kind one. in fact i got into this hobby so he could sleep in business class because we travel a lot for his work schedule. Maybe i should have just stood in the aisle all these years and used a 2% cashback card.

  10. People are so quick to judge based on what they’ve read! NO ONE knows what the woman has been through.
    Judgement day in front of God is something ELSE!
    Some need to remember THAT!

  11. to Sue elder: For that matter, no one knows what he had been through, either. Maybe she was being inconsiderate. Maybe she makes his life a living hell. Maybe he was afraid of deep vein thrombosis. The point is, none of us has the facts.

  12. Edit: And maybe she forces him to wear clothes that color-coordinate with hers. (…throwing up a little in my mouth…)

  13. I would stand for a few minutes if that helped my wife. Not for 30 minutes or longer.
    I actually stood waiting for my wife to exit the lav on a delta flight. I was concerned she might have a size problem getting out. The delta stewardess (refuse to call this one a cabin attendant) threatened me with police action if I did not return to my seat rather than hang near the lav/galley.

  14. This is clearly BS. And anyone who actually is on an airplane every week knows this. Surprised you fell for this, Gary.

  15. Years ago we flew every year to France to visit my in-laws with two small children. I can’t sleep in planes very well, while my wife can sleep anywhere. I flew biz while she and the kids were in coach. It wasn’t an issue then. Now kids are grown, and now we travel in the same cabin.

  16. i see too many wives and girlfriends in the back and the so called “man” in the front!! I was in line with a couple and their 9 year old son…(the baby of 5 children) She says my hubby always get to sit upfront as he flies alot??? I said mine always gives me the upgrade!!I said and your the mother of his 5 children and he lets u stay in the back??? nuts… I was upgraded and he was behind me i said”oh you go to sit upfront ???”

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