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‘I fly business class while my wife and kids are in economy’

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‘I fly business class while my wife and kids are in economy’

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Question: I work in a corporate job that involves a lot of overseas travel which my company pays for – and I always travel in business class. This means I have a lot of points and good favour with many major airlines.

When I travel with my family (wife and three kids) I use my points to upgrade to business class but I can’t upgrade the rest of my family as it’s simply too expensive. My wife always goes into economy with the kids which I think is fair as she is a stay-at-home mum.

However, a friend of mine, who I respect a lot, recently called me out saying that I’m selfish for not only leaving my wife to look after the kids but also for relaxing in business class while she is cramped in the economy.

I figure one of us should benefit from my points and as I earned them, it should be me. Is it wrong of me to fly business while my wife and kids are in economy?

Answer: Let me get this straight, on all your family holidays thus far you have felt entitled to travel up the pointy end of the plane, and not once offered a swap with your wife?

I can only imagine the smooth start to your holidays: there you are arriving refreshed after stretching out, being taken care of and having time to yourself, while your wife has not only spent hours trying to contort herself into a cramped economy seat to somehow get some shut-eye, but she has also had sole responsibility catering to the needs of your three children during the flight. You arrive rested and calm, I am picturing her being rather wild-eyed, exhausted, and most likely resentful. Unless she is a saint.

I’m sure you work very hard in your day job, for which I am assuming you receive a decent salary. On top of the money, you also receive perks such as regular business class travel, respect, free accommodation and meals on said travels and you know, those perks you may not even realise are perks, such as being able to go to the bathroom on your own, luxuries that your wife is certainly not afforded to.

The points you earn to get that business class seat on your family holidays are not earned through extra hard work on your part, they are basically earned through sitting on your butt in business class.

So your attachment to ‘fairness’ in this situation and your assertion that you ‘earned them’ is honestly rather laughable.

I do have clients who find the travel for work exhausting and I do not mean to diminish the impact it may have on your energy, but your friend is right, your question comes across as selfish, shortsighted and completely dismissive of your wife and her hard work for you and your family by being a stay at home mum.

Her job doesn’t come with many perks, in fact during certain phases of a child’s life and development it can be a completely thankless job and your wife may feel like she’s working for three tiny tyrants. Thank goodness children are so cute to keep us going.

Not only does your wife do most of the parenting at home alone given your job involves lots of overseas travel, but when she finally gets to share the load with you on a family holiday, you dump it all back onto her again and leave her to it – in cattle-class while you shimmy off to the quiet of business class.

Marriage in our modern world for many people is a choice and not the necessity it once was, and with that, most couples value equality within their partnership and feel closer and more intimate when they are a team and have confidence their partner has their back. Inherent in your question is that you deserve more than her which is the opposite of equality, and you’re certainly not acting like a team player when it comes to the family.

Apologise to your wife for not realising this imbalance in your travel habits before now, thank her for her patience, and then offer up your seat to her for at least 50 per cent of your trips, or find another way to have the whole family travel together (pay more or sit in economy too), or you could be finding yourself permanently travelling solo.

Jacqui Manning is The Friendly Psychologist.

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