Three years ago I wrote about husbands who fly business class while their wives fly coach. Last year the Washington Post‘s relationship columnist covered the issue, telling 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.”
When only one premium cabin seat is available do you,
- Decide that sitting together is more important, even if it’s less comfortable in back?
- Offer it up to your less frequent flying partner?
- Gladly take it yourself, you earned it?
And for the person left in back that’s resentful, what do they think of their partner that they’d wish for them to sit in coach? Maybe they should ask a flight attendant’s permission to split time in the seat?
Sometimes couples just don’t like each other that much and being in separate cabins is a great way to stay together. Over the holidays last year two American Airlines flights had to divert when couples got into fights on board.
Slate‘s “Dear Prudence” column stakes out a totally different position than past advice columns on what to do when only one person gets the upgrade.
- Husband and wife are both elites
- There’s often only one upgrade seat available, it goes to the husband and he takes it
- The wife doesn’t want the upgrade – she wants them to both sit together regardless of cabin
Once this happened on a standard domestic flight. The rest of the time both husband and wife were in business class on three-cabin transcons (so flying American). On those transcons she feels safer sleeping beside someone she knows, and doesn’t want her husband leaving her behind for a stranger. She concludes,
This is domestic first class, so it’s not that great, just more room, and yes, he’s taller, but to me it’s the fact that he presumes entitlement over me and disrespects my feelings. Am I being petty?
American Airlines Airbus A321T Transcon First Class
Writing in to an advice columnist saying first class isn’t that great, “am I being petty” is ripe for mocking. Prudie does that, but also takes the question seriously: when upgrades are offered, you take them.
If only one of you gets the upgrade: The person who gets the upgrade takes the upgrade. Upgrades are to be taken. Who would turn down the upgrade? Conversely, who would fume because his wife gets a hot towel and a quinoa salad? If you get the upgrade and genuinely do not want it, give it to your husband, who wants it. Now you have two seats, unless the airline jams someone in there, so there’s no reason for you to be in the middle next to a stranger.
How do you handle upgrades when traveling with a spouse or partner? How about when you’re traveling with a co-worker, or – even more fraught – with your boss?