Poll: One Premium Class Award Seat – Split Up the Family or Everyone Suffers in the Back?


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flying in coach poll
My son on his first flight ever! It was a Spirit flight from LAX to Guatemala City. I think just about anything is a step up. Taken in July, 2007.

An Important Question

A few weeks ago I wrote about how I redeemed Ultimate Rewards points to book my son and I in Business Class on a United flight to Stockholm, Sweden later this summer. As it turns out we are leaving two days before his 15th birthday and it is going to be a special father/son trip. (Jasmine and Baby Elizabeth are staying home.)

Being the joker that I am, I told my son that there was only one business class seat and that I would be taking it while he would have to suffer in coach. He is after all a lot younger and relatively shorter than me. I also am the one who earns these miles, so I deserve it gosh darn it!

If you have every had a teenager then you probably know how his reaction went. While he was more animated than I can accurately describe, his basic argument was all for one or one for all. He thinks I should have to suffer (and I do with my long legs) in coach with him even though he rarely converses with me during flights anymore.

First World Problems

Before I go any further, perhaps I should clarify this a bit for people who are new to the site. My son has probably taken over 150 flights in his life and has NEVER flown business class. Generally when we are traveling as a family we fly in coach to save miles. That is normal.

Thankfully, we have enough miles to be able to fly up front for this trip. I truly believe traveling is the priority and if we could only fly in coach we would. While the added comfort is nice, the “suffering” in coach is worth it in order to go new places and see new things.

A Discussion About Splitting Up

Tonight I was talking to my brother about the “joke” and he agreed that he would hypothetically fly up front while sticking my 15 year old in the back. My wife has an opposite view and wants to protect her son. Of course this is all hypothetical since he IS actually flying in business class. (He still doesn’t know that he is flying in business class. That will teach him that he should actually read my blog!)

Your Input

Since people seem to be split on this topic, I thought it would be a good time for a poll. What do you think? In my hypothetical situation is it alright to leave my son in coach while I fly up front? Should families always stick together? Have you ever had a similar situation? What did you do?

Feel free to vote in the poll and elaborate in the comments! Have a great Saturday night!

[poll id=”4″]

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  1. Another poll choice answer should be my solution.

    With my wife…she ALWAYS gets the better seats! #HappyWifeHappyLife

    I fly about4 times as many segments as she does and I’ll get my First Class seats then…

  2. Not enough poll question answers. If there was enough points for one coach and one first class I would give the first class to my hypothetical son and buy a coach seat for myself to earn more miles. I wouldn’t do any of the answers you provided

  3. How times have changed! I always flew economy when I was a kid and when one of my parents got the operational upgrade a few times, my mom always got the seat. Even from watching HOME ALONE as a kid, I recall all the kids/cousins were in coach whereas the adults were in business class. If I were a 15 year old kid again, I’d be more excited about going to SWEDEN than caring about the economy or business class seat getting me there (since my expectation was always economy class.)
    Can you please discuss further what you meant by your wife wanting to protect your son? Both of you are on the same flight and the same plane — and he is 15 years old! I’m not sure what more protection he would need unless he has special needs?
    Nonetheless, I’m excited for both of you. Your son will most likely remember his first flight in J! I know I remember my first flight in J with my family back in the 90s. Quite exciting!

    • Don’t get me wrong, my son is definitely excited and this hasn’t been an ongoing thing. If my wife were traveling and there were only one seat, then she would definitely get it. All I meant by she wants to protect her son is that she has motherly instincts that kick in when he is upset.

  4. Book one up front and one in economy.

    The chance of a business seat opening up at some point is higher than hoping the seat stays empty and a second seat opens up at the same time

  5. When two of us travel and only one gets upgraded we usually rotate halfway through the flight.

    And usually the flight attendants will send drinks and food back to the other one anyway.

  6. Have a similar dilemma coming up in a couple weeks — myself and my two sons are flying to China on Cathay Pacific. Thanks to the AA Exec 100k bonus, we have enough miles for all 3 to fly in first, but there were only 2 first class seats open so I booked myself and my 12yo in first and my teenager in business. Of course they’re all fantastic seats, and none of us have ever flown anything but coach before, but being a teenager you can imagine his reaction — not because his mom gets to fly in first, but because his little brother does! I’m keeping my fingers crossed that one more first class seat opens up before we go — otherwise I think I’ll have to put both of them in first and take business class myself. Any of you who have two kids know what I mean! Thanks for your great blog, Shawn – I’ve really come to rely on it!

  7. We are taking our 3 twenty something sons to Europe this summer, the first time for them. We are flying business/first and they are flying coach. They have been made aware of that fact (even though we are flying separately from them) and, thankfully, they are just grateful for the trip.

    Truthfully, I wouldn’t fly them in anything other than coach – unless there was absolutely no cost involved whatsoever. If you grow up with your parents in a “first class” world, life may be a bitter disappointment when you are on your own. I’d rather they be comfortable living within their means and consider any kind of “upgrade” a big treat.

    As far as an adult giving up an upgrade to hang in coach with their teenage child, I look at it this way – at my age, long flights can take it out of me and I need more time to bounce back than my kid does. I would think they would want you to be rested and full of energy once you get to your destination so they don’t lose valuable time on the trip because you need to take that time to recuperate!

  8. We are actually flying to Denmark this month. My daughter (age 11) and I are flying in business and my husband will be in coach. I wouldn’t put her in coach by herself and I do all the points chasing so I figured it’s pretty fair. Besides, with him flying coach we had enough for three first class seats on BA home from London. Sometimes limited award availability works out in the end.

  9. I would not hesitate to book business class seats for me and my girlfriend while booking a seat for the kids in coach.

    I would however not book a seat in business for me while booking a seat in coach for the girlfriend… That’s not a good plan… Nope…

    In that situation, I think it’s a case of telling her that no seats are available in business and that you will both fly in coach. (Because if you tell her that there’s only one seat available in business, you’ll end up in coach while she will be in business!)

  10. Hubby and took our niece to Hawaii for graduation. Suddenly it became a pile on of people who wanted to tag along. We redeemed two 1st class award tix for 2 nieces, we paid and used upgrade instruments for ourselves so we could earn miles and status , so that left 3 in coach who paid for themselves. We were feeling generous so we applied 3 more upgrades to their tix, Two cleared and one did not. So that meant 6 family members were in first and one in coach alone…my mother. It was very tense. Many people were saying they would give her their seat but I was not really sure about their sincerity. I even called the 1k line and pleaded the case. No upgrade. Finally one hour before the flight she cleared and got the last seat. Whew. These scenarios can get ugly.


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