Seat Upgrade on Company-Paid Flights: Who Gets It – Employee or Boss?

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Are you a frequent flyer who’s ever been upgraded to a first-class seat on a company-paid ticket while traveling with your boss? If so, you may have wondered whether or not you’re obligated to give up your upgraded seat to your boss. It’s a tricky situation that many business travelers have found themselves in.

It’s a company-paid ticket

First, let’s consider the fact that the company paid for your original ticket. While this is true, it’s important to note that it was your own personal credit card spending and frequent travel that earned you the upgrade. Therefore, it’s not unreasonable for you to accept the upgrade and sit in the first-class seat.

It’s your frequent flyer status

Some bosses may argue that as a more senior employee, they are entitled to the upgraded seat. However, it’s important to remember that upgrades are typically based on frequent flyer status, and not on seniority or job title. In fact, frequent flyer programs often upend the traditional status relationship, allowing middle managers who travel frequently to earn upgrades.

Check company policies

That being said, it’s also important to be aware of any company policies or rules around upgrades and frequent flyer programs. If your company has a policy that states that any upgrades earned on company-paid tickets must be given to the most senior employee traveling, then you may be obligated to give up your upgraded seat. However, if there is no such policy, you are to keep your upgraded seat.

Real-life case

If you want to read a real-life scenario similar to the one we just discussed, check out the Reddit post “AITA for not giving my boss my first class seat?“. The post details a situation where a frequent traveler on an airline got upgraded to first class, but his boss, who was traveling with him, did not. The boss then demanded the upgraded seat because the company paid for the original ticket. The post sparked a heated debate among Redditors about who is entitled to a first-class seat when a company buys a ticket.

Ultimately, the decision to offer your upgraded seat to your boss is up to you. It’s important to consider the dynamics of your working relationship, and whether or not refusing to offer your seat could have negative repercussions for your career. If you feel uncomfortable with the situation, it’s always a good idea to consult with HR or a trusted colleague for advice.


In conclusion, while your boss may feel entitled to your upgraded seat when the company buys your ticket, it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether or not to offer it to them. As long as you’re aware of any company policies or rules around upgrades and frequent flyer programs, and don’t violate them, you’re well within your rights to enjoy your upgraded seat.

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