06 Apr Should First Class Passengers Be Allowed Guests?

My wife and I recently separated. This separation has nothing to do with our marriage (we are very much permanently together) and everything to do with a recent long-haul Cathay Pacific flight from JFK to HKG!

The award flights were originally booked together in Business Class using 50k Alaska Mileage Plan miles each. However, with one week remaining before departure, First Class availability opened up and I was able to snag a seat for an additional 20k miles! Of course I would have loved if 2 award seats opened up, but you can’t always get what you want…

After a heated pre-flight “discussion” over who had to sit in First Class, it was determined that yours truly would occupy the First-Class seat.

Yes, that’s right. I sipped Krug Champagne in Cathay Pacific First Class, while my wife sat in Business Class…

And yes, we are still married!

I wanted us BOTH to experience Cathay First Class… would she, and should she be allowed to visit me?

I read up on this topic via Flyertalk and based on that “research” it seems that the nays have it, stating that passengers in a lower-class cabin should not be allowed to visit those in a higher-class cabin.

What is this, the Titanic!? Can you imagine if Jack and Rose never met and never fell in love? It is just not acceptable in my opinion, so I decided to fully consider both sides of the argument and see on what side of the fence I fell.

Yes – First Class Passengers should be allowed guests!

The Cathay 700-300ER cabin is fitted with 6 seats, and only 4 were occupied during the 16-hour flight, meaning there was plenty of room for another, rather petite passenger.

She would not take up any additional room since she would sit in my Cathay First Suite with me. AND I would ensure she did not feast on the premium food and drink selection.

No harm, no foul. The other First Class passengers don’t mind… right!?

The Flipside…

No – First Class Passengers should not be allowed guests!

Airline flight crews spend vast amounts of time and effort in order to provide the First Class experience to First Class passengers. It is inconsiderate to both the crew and fellow First Class passengers to have a guest as it may disrupt their flight experience. Remember, not every First passenger is flying for 70k Alaska miles and some taxes, as these one-way tickets can cost over $15,000!

To the back of the plane with you!

If airlines wanted another non-revenue passenger in the First Class cabin, they would have opened up additional award availability or perhaps upgraded a passenger…

Cathay Flight Attendant (FA) Instructions

I did not want to offend the crew or the other First Class passengers with an unexpected visitor. I made sure to ask permission for my wife to make a visit.

A guest in First Class – now those are fighting words!

This defies my philosophy of “better to ask forgiveness than permission,” but since the other passengers paid so dearly for this First Class experience, I was feeling extra courteous!

Ask and you shall receive… sort of!

The FA let me know that it would be permissible to have my wife up in the First Class Cabin for “10-15 minutes” but that if we wanted any more time together, I should head back to Business Class.

This was perfectly fine with me, since the sole reason I wanted my wife to join was to show her how awesome of a time I was having! She joined me up in 1A and listened to me ramble on and on about the greatness that is Cathay First, then hustled back to her seat to enjoy a good book and some peace and quiet, a full cabin away from my yammering!

In an accommodating move by the lead FA towards the end of the flight, she offered to help move my wife to one of the open First Class seats, that way we would be able to disembark together. It wouldn’t have been a huge deal to disembark on our own and then must meet up in outside the gate, but obviously, this was preferred and greatly appreciated!

Final Thought

Should First Class passengers be allowed guests? Perhaps yes, more likely no, but best to ask your flight attendant what he or she thinks and then act accordingly.

What are your thoughts on passengers “visiting” First Class?

Happy Travels!

DW

9 Comments
  • AdamR
    Posted at 09:10h, 06 April Reply

    I think the FAs handled it absolutely appropriately. As you mention, not everyone is a points/mile whore like we are, and are entitled to the F experience just as much as we are – if not maybe a little more so. I am about to have this exact same situation except LAX-HKG with my partner I’ve flown in CX F a few more times than he has and so I happily took the J seat while he’s flying up front. We *might* spend some time up in the front, but I don’t really mind too much as CX J is just fine by me.

    But what kind of irks me about this whole situation – and not just yours – is that it’s inconsiderate, generally, of the other pax in F. Why do you think you should get special dispensation? Sure it’s “just 10 to 15 minutes”, but it’d be impolite for the FAs to use a timer on you and tell your wife to skedaddle as the clock hits 15:00. So, in theory, most situations like this end up as a “give ’em an inch, they’ll take a mile.” And while she’s up there, the FAs are now paying attention to one more person, one who shouldn’t be there in the first place. And theres now more noise in the cabin than there should be. And maybe another person using the lavatory than there should be. Sure, it’s all quite innocuous to you because the cabin wasn’t full, but so what? That doesn’t suddenly make it any less impactful on EVERYBODY ELSE in the cabin who paid to be there. I know you meant well and I’m sure it truly was little to no imposition, but it’s thinly veiled selfishness and inconsideration to everyone else masquerading as “just a little imposition”, as if putting the word “just” in front of something makes it okay.

    • DW
      Posted at 09:55h, 06 April Reply

      Point well taken. I acknowledge that it may have been inconsiderate to the FAs and other passengers, which is why I asked permission in the first place. But I don’t feel bad, and would follow the same procedure if it happens again. In that same First Class cabin, two of the other passengers utilized 4 of the 6 seats in the cabin. Why should they have one seat to eat in and another seat to sleep in, but not me? Because they asked and I didn’t, and I am ok with that. We all act in our own self-interest, and I think that is ok to a certain extent. If your self-interest more than mildly inconveniences another, then it’s time to check yourself.

      DW

  • Tri
    Posted at 10:01h, 06 April Reply

    I think its inconsiderate. She didnt “buy up” into F. Its rude and you put the FA and/or captain in a position where they needed to act accordingly to accommodate. lets leave the issue about size alone. Why dont we let your five year old daughter up for “10 minutes”… why not my granny… and joe the plumber’s cousin. If they are “petite” its okay?. Where do you stop? It was wrong and selfish of you. You felt guilty for taking F… but thats too bad. I would have complained to the FAs. Just b/c its easy to get Alaska miles doesnt mean it wasnt a trip of a lifetime for passengers which you diminished with your “polite” request.

    • DW
      Posted at 10:12h, 06 April Reply

      Fair enough. The petite comment was made in jest – I realize this is a certain and very rare case where size does NOT matter. As far as “where do you stop?” As I mentioned in a previous comment, we all act in our own self-interest, and I think that is ok to a certain extent. If your self-interest more than mildly inconveniences another, then it’s time to stop. I’d argue that turning the First Class cabin into my own photography expose may have been the more inconvenient and inconsiderate of the two, but luckily these days two wrongs make a right 😉

      Thanks for the comment!

      DW

  • kq747
    Posted at 11:18h, 06 April Reply

    I think they way you went about it and the way the FA handled it was perfectly fine. I think the fact that you didn’t demand that she be allowed in or use the FA’s time to provide service to you your wife cannot really detract from the experience of others as the cabin was not even full. CX offers the dine with a partner option (for another F pax yes, but you weren’t dining) so I don’t really see how this was vastly different? If anything it was better, as you had a chat and then she left. Much better for the so called “disturbed” pax than both of you being in the cabin and sharing a full meal and chatting away. The FA definitely deserves praise here because they bent the rule in a reasonable way and proactively offered to have you disembark together. This type of reasonable situation based judgement is what shows how a good crew can add to the experience. I do agree with the other comment that said many people would however take a mile given an inch so perhaps it is better that this is not generally allowed.

    • DW
      Posted at 11:23h, 06 April Reply

      Thanks for the note! I agree with you completely. I requested a bend in the rule and it was granted. It should not be a general policy to allow this as it is likely to be abused. Bravo to the FA and to my fellow F passengers for not hurling caviar in the 1A direction!

      DW

  • JEM
    Posted at 13:38h, 06 April Reply

    I don’t see why the J passengers should have been subjected to your yammering just because you cashed in an extra 20K miles. After all, many or most of then likely paid a pretty penny themselves to sit in the middle cabin. And with no suite barriers, you would probably have interfered with their work or relaxation to a much greater extent.

    Seems to me the FA’s allowed a perfectly reasonable accommodation. Buying an F seat doesn’t guarantee that you won’t be inconvenienced in any way by others in the cabin – for that you need to charter a private jet. But if the inconvenience is trifling (or in this case, perhaps purely theoretical), I don’t think it’s out of line at all.

    • DW
      Posted at 13:49h, 06 April Reply

      Great point! Didn’t really think about it from the other side and inconveniencing the J cabin passengers…

      Again, it should not be a right of F passengers to invite “guests” into the cabin, but I think it is perfectly acceptable with proper communication and approval from the FA.

      DW

  • JS
    Posted at 15:23h, 11 April Reply

    Love the analysis and thought you guys put into this. And wife of the year for taking the J seat!

    I agree wholeheartedly with JEM and Kq747, you handled this the right way. You asked nicely, and they accommodated your request. There was nothing rude or inconsiderate in your request – it would have been had a meal or drinks been expected and had you overstayed your time. F doesn’t entitle you to a noise free/smell free/jerk free/perfect flight. and the FAs did not have to do anything additional having her up there with you. Sure there is a judgement call to be made if someone overstays, or starts getting loud, but that’s part of the FAs job anyway. It could be a passenger in their assigned cabin/seat, or someone at the lav, visiting coach from up front or vice versa. When you’re dealing with people, as FAs do, there is a lot of grey involved!

    I’ve certainly asked to check out other cabins in the past. While in SQ Suites, I asked to see the Business Class cabin. If it’s rude to see up a class, then it’s rude to see down a class as well. As long as no one is being disruptive, why all the fuss? I think some people just like to be negative no matter what the situation is.

    Sounds like a great flight, and nice of them to let her check it out. Looking forward to flying with CX!

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