Relationship Advice for the Frequent Flyer, Do You Take the Upgrade?

Two years ago I wrote about husbands who fly business class while their wives fly coach.

Now from the Washington Post‘s dating column,

I am in a fairly new relationship (three months) with an attorney who divorced after 25 years of marriage. He loves to travel and told me that since he has a lot of airline miles, he books coach and always gets an upgrade to first class.

So when he and his wife, and then one girlfriend before he met me, traveled together, she sat in coach and he took the upgrade and sat in first class. At first, I thought he was kidding.

I really don’t like the thought of that type of arrangement, as I find the message rather insulting. I think he should either sit in coach with me or pay extra for me to sit with him in first class. He has money, and I don’t. I also don’t know what to say to make him see that this is demeaning. Any suggestions?

American Airlines Economy on a Legacy US Airways Airbus A320

Their columnist declares he’s self-centered and she should drop him. Indeed, “His wife sat alone in coach: His epitaph writes itself.”

What do you think?

  • What does she think of him that she’d wish coach on him?
  • Should you give up an upgrade to sit together? If you like each other should you always sit together?
  • Since premium cabins are better than coach, when they’re traveling together maybe they should just take turns?

Is a willingess to take an upgrade a reason to break up?

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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    “Men marry women with the hope they will never change. Women marry men with the hope they will change. Invariably they are both disappointed.” –Prof. Albert Einstein

    I might add that it’s been my experience that many women “know” they can change him. Good luck with that. Go by train.

  2. @Blue has it right. An upgrade is the easiest way to tangibly express that your significant other is important enough to make sacrifices for. My wife always gets my upgrade if we can get one.

    A person who’s not willing to sacrifice an upgrade is demonstrating that they’re going to be willing to make sacrifices when they’re really important and/or painful for that person to make. She should move on to the next fish.

  3. The airline and flight crew may not allow him to give her the upgrade as it was his status that qualified the upgrade. Even so, he’s obviously treating her like they are already married. (Taking her for granted, a clumsy courtship)

  4. First I’ll say any guy that would do that to his wife or girlfriend is making a big misstake.
    But not the important “view” the “Upgrade” in the Airline business is a very tricky one. Anyone outside of working for the airline who claims to know is showing that they don’t know. All Airlines are different and it can even come down to the gate agent who makes the call as I have personally seen many many times. I would rather not tell all my info other than to say. It can’t hurt to ask and most important of all when you do ask make sure you ask in a polite grateful way.

  5. Any man (or woman) that takes the upgrade continuously and doesn’t share or trade off is telling you loud and clear that you are not as important as he is and his needs will always come first. Run. Fast. Unless you’re masochistic – in that case, you’ve found your mate.

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