Boss Tells Employee She Has A 'Lack Of Respect For Protocol' Because She Flew First Class While Boss Sat In Coach

When toxic work culture extends outside of the job, there's a big problem.

Last updated on Mar 30, 2024

woman sitting on airplane first class Vitaly Karyakin / Shutterstock

While we owe a certain level of respect to our boss, no matter what field of work we are in, the lines can sometimes become blurred. Especially when issues of seniority are concerned.

A woman found herself at odds with her employer over a first class plane ticket on a work trip. Taking to Reddit, the confused employee asked if she should have handled the conflict differently.

A boss believed she was entitled to her employee's first class upgrade.

The woman requested nothing out of the ordinary when traveling home with her boss from a conference they had both attended. She was shocked when her superior called her out for being resourceful.


The frequent flyer said that she had been booked on the same flight as her manager for the return trip home. The two, however, were not seated together.

Boss Tells Employee She Has A Lack Of Respect For Protocol Because She Flew First Class While Boss Sat In CoachPhoto: Jason Toevs / Pexels

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Because it was commonplace for her to use her airline credit card when flying, she had accumulated enough points to get a free upgrade to first class and decided to take advantage of it. Her boss remained in the assigned seat the company had paid for.

The employee didn’t think twice about it since they were never going to be sitting together, even if she remained in coach. But much to her surprise, after everyone deboarded the plane and stopped at baggage claim, her manager took time to confront her about switching seats.

The woman's boss accosted her and claimed she had shown a 'lack of respect for protocol' by upgrading to a first-class seat

This left the employee stunned and confused. And to make matters worse, the employee's superior suggested that because the company had footed the bill for the tickets and she was higher up the business’s hierarchy, the upgrade should have been given to her.

In her post, the employee thought her boss was way off-base. She called her manager's expectation of utilizing a travel bonus obtained through someone else's personal credit card “insane.”




Nevertheless, she turned to her fellow Redditors to find out if she was in the wrong, where a majority of commenters took her side.

“If you want to [make sure] going forward you can always email HR and ask, 'X happened while on this trip and Manager Y advised that I should have done Z. Can you point me to where I can review the protocols, so I know going forward?'" one person suggested.

But the employee admitted that she liked the tactful idea of avoiding telling on her boss outright. She claimed that the woman had a history of retaliating against people who had made complaints about her to Human Resources.


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Another commenter took issue with the employee's involuntary travel companion, adding, “Boss can’t try pulling rank like that to begin with and definitely not when it’s your personal spending that got you the upgrade. Plus, if they like retaliating against complaints, they should be getting fired on the spot as soon as proof is presented.”

Not only is weaponizing your position in the workplace a red flag, but it has also proven to be detrimental.

It repels employees from presenting new ideas and limits healthy conversation. That, coupled with the alleged retaliation, is a recipe for a toxic company culture and a ton of turnover.

A study out of the UK found that one in three employees have left their jobs due to toxic work culture. The research also determined that bosses and managers "have a deep impact on employees, including on their motivation, satisfaction, and likelihood of leaving their job."


Boss Tells Employee She Has A Lack Of Respect For Protocol Because She Flew First Class While Boss Sat In CoachPhoto: Leeloo The First / Pexels

Additionally, a Harris Poll showed that many managers and bosses are driving their employees to seek therapy. The poll claimed that 73% of respondents have dealt with anxiety over the thought of having to return to work after the weekend, and 53% said they had nightmares about their boss.

But the same poll shed light on the positive effects of having a good boss. Workers polled said they were more productive, were proactive in taking on more responsibilities, and stayed in their positions longer.


So, it's evident that toxic work culture does much more harm than good.

For this woman, something as simple as being upgraded to first class seemed to cause a big fuss. And while managers do have seniority over their employees, outside of the workplace, it shouldn't become an issue.

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NyRee Ausler is a writer from Seattle, Washington, and author of seven books. She covers lifestyle and entertainment and news, as well as navigating the workplace and social issues.