Would you sit in first class while your partner and children flew in economy?
The New York Times Magazine’s latest ethics column has created a huge stir online with outraged readers telling the woman seeking advice to immediately divorce her husband.
An unnamed woman wrote to the outlet’s ethicist columnist, philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah, about her husband flying in first class while booking her and their two children in economy class.
“He even did this recently on an overnight flight to Paris,” the woman wrote.
“He justifies flying alone in first class because of the cost, and the fact that our kids (12 and 16) might feel alone if I were to travel in first with him and leave them in the rear cabin. I feel that this is unfair.”
She asked if it was unfair of her to want to fly first class with her husband and leave her kids in economy plus.
“My husband has suggested travelling alone on a different flight ahead of us so that we don’t feel badly about the disparity, but this does not really address or solve the problem of the inherent selfishness in his thinking,” she continued.
“Am I wrong? We are happy to travel, and love going places together, but it is still very strange.”
The woman’s question was shared on social media with an influx of comments from people expressing shock and claiming a divorce was necessary.
“Your husband appears to be a narcissist, who loves and cares only for himself,” wrote one man on Facebook, gaining 3800 likes in support.
Almost 2000 people liked a comment that read: “If my boyfriend suggested he fly in first class and I can fly in economy, I would happily invite him to go fly first class. Then I’d have all the time in the world to move out of the house while he is gone.”
“I wouldn’t go to the grocery store with that man, much less an overnight flight to Paris. Appalling behaviour,” wrote one woman.
“To be honest, I’d divorce this guy,” said another bluntly.
“Honey, may I suggest a good divorce lawyer? You are married to someone who sees you as ‘The Help’,” added someone else.
One person agreed with the husband’s move, writing “first class isn’t cheap”, while another questioned whether the husband was the one who made the money that funded the trip and was working while seated in first class.
A third wrote: “Frankly, I’m blown away that this mother sees the disparity for herself, but is perfectly comfortable experiencing privilege while treating her own children disparately.”
Some suggested the only acceptable solution was that the husband and wife took turns, or one of them flew first class one way and the other on the return.
“Divorce papers would shortly follow if that wasn’t the compromise; it’s representative of some serious issues in the relationship,” one person claimed.
“My husband used to travel often for work so was bumped up to first class from time to time,” another woman said of her own experience. “He dealt with it by rotating between us who actually sat in that seat and who sat back with our 4 kids! Seems fair to me.”
Professor Appiah, the columnist, had the same view as many of those online. He suggested the 12 and 16 year old children could sit alone in economy or encouraged the woman to suggest to her husband they take turns in first class.