I’m sort of surprised by how often I see people split cabins on planes. In other words, you have a couple traveling together, and one person is seated in first/business class, while the other is seated in economy.
I suppose that in general there are three ways to handle this:
- One person just sits in the premium cabin for the whole flight, while the other sits in economy
- The person in the premium cabin downgrades to economy to sit with the other person
- You split up the amount of time you spend in each cabin, so one person takes the premium seat for the first half of the flight, while the other person takes the premium seat for the second half of the flight
It’s rare I see the third option happen, though on my economy flight from Los Angeles to New York on Thursday, that’s what the person in the aisle did.
The lady was traveling with her husband, and for the first 2-3 hours of the flight she was yapping nonstop with the person in the middle seat. Then the husband showed up halfway through the flight to swap seats, and he yapped with the lady in the middle seat for the next 2-3 hours.
The poor lady in the middle seat was a good sport, as she had basically the same conversation with the husband as she did with the wife. And then for landing the wife took the economy seat again, and they continued their conversation where they had left off a couple of hours prior.
There are some chatty people, but it’s the first time I’ve seen someone chatting nonstop on a transcon flight.
Now, I suppose that was one of the fairer approaches I’ve seen to splitting a premium seat.
It made me think about the approach I take when it comes to a situation where I’m traveling with someone and only one upgrade clear:
- I always offer the premium seat to the person I’m traveling with.
- If they reject, I’d much rather downgrade and be seated in economy. I usually want to spend time with the person I’m traveling with, and beyond that, I find economy is more enjoyable/comfortable when you’re traveling with someone, since you’re sort of limiting the chance of having a terrible seatmate, etc.
But I guess bigger picture I try to avoid situations where that could happen:
- If I’m traveling with someone and it’s important to me to be in a premium cabin, I’ll use miles or an upgrade instrument to confirm the upgrade.
- If it looks like the upgrade won’t clear, I’ll take myself off the upgrade list if that’s an option, or just swap the upgraded seat aboard.
- When booking award tickets some people will book one seat in first class and one in business class, with hopes of a second one opening in first. I’d rather book two in business and then hope two first class seats open up, because if they don’t, it’s not a big deal. At least I’m seated with the person I’m traveling with (keep in mind you can’t generally visit someone seated in a higher cabin).
While I think I value flying in premium cabins as much as anyone, for me part of the fun of travel is who I’m traveling with, and that includes on the flight. Ultimately I’d rather sit in a lower cabin with someone than separately in a higher cabin. Though to not be wasteful, I’ll also always “offer” the higher seat to my travel companion.
How about you? What’s your philosophy when it comes to being split up between cabins?
a) Whoever got the upgrade keeps it, and that’s that
b) You offer the upgrade to your travel companion
c) You just downgrade and would rather sit together in a lower cabin
Curious what you guys do in these situations!