So this story starts out with my daughter coming back from our annual Christmas vacation in Anchorage.  She was flying UA First Class, courtesy of Daddy’s miles of course, and was very upset about something she saw.  There were four seats empty in First and three uniformed Soldiers in Coach.  UA must have upgraded all the elites on the flight and no one extended an offer to move anyone else up.  My daughter wanted to shame Tweet UA about this saying that this kind of situation which she said would never occur on our normal airline, Alaska.

I am proud of my daughter for wanted to stick up for our Service Members, but worry about sounding like we are an over-entitled bunch who just expect an upgrade when one is available.   I doubt there is any official policy amongst any of the airlines for upgrading a SM or offering anything special.  I believe that everything we get is directly the result of a flight attendant’s sympathy.  To me, that actually makes any gesture, not just an upgrade, as something that I treasure because to me it comes from the heart.  I honestly have never been upgraded due to my uniform, but have been given free food, Digiplayers on AS, and many PA announcements thanking those of us on the flight for our service.  Most special to me was a pin an Alaska FA took of her own lapel to give to my wife.  All of these gestures mean more to me because they don’t come from some airline policy, but from people’s own recognition and thanks.

I definitely appreciate all the things that we do get for serving our Country.  Free access to TSA Pre-Check, the USO, free bags, and of course the refund of certain credit cards fees are all great things that I am happy to accept based upon the sacrifices that I make for serving.  But I never ask for any of this, which makes a big difference.  I would not want to present an image of expecting special treatment, just happy when I get it.  Lately some of our readers have been upset because Chase did not exempt them from fees when others are getting the exemption through no known reason.  Should we get upset with this?

So tell us how you feel on this subject…

Posted by glenn | 14 Comments

14 responses to “Do You Worry About Being Over-Entitled?”

  1. I am not a service member, but I do appreciate the service of our armed forces professionals. I definitely think its nice to show appreciation to folks, but that can come in many forms, such a smile etc. I may get some flack for this statement, but a lot of people choose to take jobs that are important to the overall betterment of this country. Teachers, police officers, firefighters. Do we upgrade them all? I am interested in hearing folks’ thoughts on this topic.

  2. Garrett says:

    I’m not a service member, but I would hope that they would use those seats to treat others well. I can’t really afford to use my miles because I have to re-qualify (Delta PM), so when I’m sitting up front it’s either an upgrade or I’ve paid the fare. I would be happy to see a service member reseated next to me. Why not? I think it’s admirable that someone is willing to serve and protect others…………….

    Personally, I have yet to meet a member of our armed forces who comes off as entitled. I mean…kind of the wrong job to take if you’re doing it for the free airport lounges and checked bag…

    I’m gonna pull a “your daughter” if I see that, but I think I’ll forego a tweet and go straight to the FA. I have no problem being entitled in your place and for your benefit. 😛

  3. DCbroker says:

    As a member of the military I completely agree with your position. I serve for my country not for the benefits.

    On the subject of benefits however, it seems odd that perks I routinely get when traveling in uniform are not extended to me when traveling out of uniform as I routinely do even when traveling on official business.

    There may be an explanation for this aside from the frivolous (they don’t know I’m in the military if I’m not in uniform ridiculousness), but if there is I’ve never heard it. Airlines have told me directly it is their policy not to extend such courtesies to military members in civilian clothes.

    To me there is only one explanation that makes sense, airlines are not really concerned about recognizing or honoring members of the military, they are only interested in these gestures as PR stunts.

    If I’m not in uniform no one can see how generous and patriotic the airline is, ergo, no perks.

    • Eric says:

      DCbroker.. I completely agree with you on this subject. I believe airlines do it more for a PR stunt than actually caring. I’ve flown with United most of the time both for official and leave (without uniform) and showed my CAC while checking in and received no “special” treatment. By all means, I am not expecting any as I am just doing my job as a service member. One thing that bugs me too is that United boards “uniformed service members” first ONLY if they are in uniform. I’ve seen service members rejected. What’s the difference? A service member is a service member. Hence, a PR stunt.

  4. Sam says:

    I’m not a member of the armed forces, but I have benefitted from countless kind (or just common sense) acts from FAs and gate agents when flying on AS. From what I’ve seen, AS empowers their people to make decisions and take action on their own more than most airlines. I once had a panic attack on AS (The flight was a very stressful moment in my life, anyway.) and the first thing the FA did was immediately move me to the F cabin where I could have more space and attention. I’m under the impression that some other airlines wouldn’t have allowed their employees to “give away” something of value like that without a business reason.

    I think it’s more about the culture of the company than any specific policy, but I’m glad to hear that our shared airline treats our men and women serving well.

  5. Jake from MSP says:

    DCbroker,

    I’d like to encourage you to look at this through the eye of a reservist. We wear the uniform, although not very often when compared to our Active Duty brothers and sisters. Our military perks kick in when we wear the uniform and lots of them cease when we take it off. For example, our tricare benefits only cover us if we are at drill for the weekend. But we still get some educational benefits and other small perks when in civilians. Airlines treat military the same way. If you’re not in uniform, you really shouldn’t be getting over-the-top treatment like upgrades. Be happy with the free bags, priority boarding…etc

    After all, you’re really not entitled to those airline benefits as a non-elite anyway

  6. Benji says:

    I seem to remeber being told there was a rule against accepting gifts in excess of a certain amount ($20?). Anyone else have knowledge of this?

    • glenn says:

      @Benji – Yes, there are regulations about receiving gifts, but an upgrade is not considered a gift of value per the JTR. If the FA gives you a free meal box or something similar, it should be less than $20 (or whatever the current gift limit is). I can’t think of anything they have to give that would be worth more than $20.

      • benji says:

        Thats great to know! Do you by any chance have a reference I could point to in the future regarding viewing the upgrade not as a gift?

        Thanks!

        • glenn says:

          @ Benji – Refer to one of the permanent pages on the blog discussing the JTR. Here is the part you want:

          U1200 NON-REIMBURSABLE EXPENSES

          B.
          Promotional Materials/Benefits

          1. A traveler on official business traveling at GOV’T expense on agency (APP A1)
          funds may keep promotional material (including frequent traveler benefits such as points or miles,
          upgrades, or access to carrier clubs or facilities) for personal use.

          2.
          The promotional material must be obtained under the same terms as those offered
          to the general public and must be at no additional GOV’T cost. Examples include
          vendor-provided complimentary upgrades to rooms or transportation
          accommodations and upgrades ‘purchased’ using frequent traveler benefits and/or
          personal unreimbursed funds.

  7. benji says:

    “Lately some of our readers have been upset because Chase did not exempt them from fees when others are getting the exemption through no known reason. Should we get upset with this?”

    I believe that I am one of the fans of your blog that you are referring too. First things first, I am a huge fan of your blog and appreciate y’all taking the time to research and write it.

    A peer cautioned me when I first became excited about credit card churning/signing up for bonuses. He cautioned me to be careful whom I discussed this subject in front of, specifically junior enlisted. It has been our experience, that the majority of the financial discipline issues that we have had to deal with, came from that population. They are typically very young, very inexperienced with credit cards, and generally less knowledgeable about personal finances. He cautioned me that they might hear me singing the praises of signing up for many credit cards and spending money on them to generate miles. While he understood that I did not spend any more on credit cards, than I had previously spent on debit cards (maintained fiscal discipline). He said that they might not understand or realize how important fiscal discipline is with credit cards and the pitfalls of failing to maintain it.

    With that perspective, that is why I have critiqued the Chase and Citibank fee waiving articles. They are/were written as if it was a guaranteed that these fees are waived for Active Duty. The reality is that unless you had an account before you joined, they aren’t waiving the fees.

    Taking those facts into account with the reality that someone with less personal finance savvy might come upon the articles with a google search, I think it is important to ensure they are accurate.

    I hope can understand my concerns now, and at the same time take away how much I appreciate the service you provide with this blog. I get excited every time you post a new article about military benefits and really do appreciate it. Please keep providing this awesome content. I only give my suggestions because of the potential viewers, and because I want your articles to be as accurate as possible for the next reader.

    Thanks again!

    • glenn says:

      @ Benji – Your point about younger troops is well taken and valid. You should see all the knuckleheads that I have to discipline for misuse of their GTC and they are usually old enough to know better! That is why Andy and I try to be accurate and we’ll go back and revise posts if we find the facts are not always as advertised.

      Glenn

  8. Jake says:

    Actually it is against regs to accept an upgrade while you are in uniform. The reg you listed specifically states that you can only accept the upgrade if it’s earned through a program offered to the general public. Being upgraded because you are in uniform does not fall under this.

    So while it’s something that is an accepted practice it is against regs and the Airlines can’t have a policy to upgrade military members.

    • glenn says:

      @ Jake – Really? Can you cite that reg? Nothing in AR600-20 about it. I have asked an instructor at the JAG School and his reply is in this post I wrote: http://themilitaryfrequentflyer.boardingarea.com/2012/06/16/traveling-in-uniform-part-1
      “I just completed the Senior Leaders Legal Orientation Course at the JAG school in Charlottesville, VA. While they confirmed my reading of the JTR on upgrades, an interesting situation came up. If you know you are flying in premium class, you are forbidden from wearing your uniform. However, if you arrive at the airport and get a battlefield upgrade, then it is acceptable.”

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