Traveling with others is challenging enough (in my experience), but imagine the following scenario: Before your flight, you find out you’ve been upgraded to business class. Only you. Your travel partner looks at you with confusion and a sense of expectation. What do you do? Do you decline the upgrade or ditch your travel partner and head up front? The proper thing to do depends on a few factors, including who your travel partner is.
As much as I dislike economy class, I would never take an upgrade if I was traveling with someone else. Most people don’t get to sit up front and if I’m flying economy with another person, chances are they’re one of those people. Why rub it in their face by ditching them for an upgraded seat? On those instances when I’m traveling with family and economy seats are limited, I’ll let everyone else sit up front and will gladly slum it in coach. If I’ve learned anything during a 16-hour flight in economy class it’s how to survive the experience.
There is one exception to this rule. If I’m planning a trip using miles and someone else decides to tag along (who isn’t an immediate family member), I don’t feel bad letting them book their ticket in coach. I’ve been involved in the travel hacking racket for almost eight years. I put effort into earning points for an upgraded travel experience and always make myself available to others for information. If someone isn’t willing to do that work and then pouts when they have to sit in coach while I fly in business class, that’s their cross to bear.
I think the decision is trickier for spouses or significant others. Do you take a seat upgrade and leave your spouse in economy class? Do you give them the upgrade? Or do you both sit in coach? I think if your travel partner has a worse seat than you and you don’t mind flying in coach, it would be a nice gesture to give them the upgrade. Some would say a gentleman would do the same thing. And there are those who would take offense to that statement. After all, “There are no feminists when the ship hits the iceberg.” To some, flying economy class would be akin to being on a sinking ocean liner. Do the right thing and let the ladies take the last lifeboat (i.e. the upgrade).
While I would personally opt out of an upgrade instead of ditching a travel partner, my only exception would be if I was traveling with a parent. I would take the upgrade and let them have my seat. It’s not absolutely necessary for us to be in the same cabin anyway and they’ll enjoy the business class cabin more than my company.
Would you ditch your travel partner for an upgrade? On the flip side, what if your travel companion took an upgrade – would you be okay with it?
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