I really don’t care to discuss on this blog whether polygamy, polyamory, or any sort of plural relationship is good or bad. But I do sense society is changing and such arrangements will one day be protected by law, even in the United States. That presents fascinating implications for travel.
Yesterday Ben and I were at the Saudia counter in Dubai checking in for our flights back to LA and I noticed a man followed by four women and a herd of children checking in next to us. I joked that either his older girls were already covering up or he brought all his wives along.
As it turned out, the four woman in burkas were his wives. They arrived at the lounge just before us and the man was forced to speak English since he was dealing with a Filipino lounge attendant.
“I can’t bring my wives in?” he asked.
It appeared he was flying in business class and the rest of his family was in economy class. He was told no and issued instructions to them to wait outside.
Polygamy is legal in 58 nations. Almost every one of these nations is predominantly Muslim or recognizes polygamous relationships only for Muslims.
But support for polygamy (or perhaps polyamory is the better term) is at an all-time high in the USA and without wading too deep into the legal thicket, laws proscribing such behavior are on shaky constitutional grounds in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s conception of marriage.
How would a changing legal view of plural marriage implicate lounge access?
The big three legacy carriers in the USA have the following lounge access guidelines for family access:
- American Airlines
Immediate family (spouse, domestic partner and/or children under 18) or up to 2 guests.
- Delta Air Lines
Members with an Individual Membership may access Delta Sky Club with up to 2 guests or immediate family (spouse or domestic partner and children under 21 years of age)
- United Airlines
United Club members may bring their spouse and dependent children under 21, or up to two guests, into any United Club location. Members must accompany their family and guests during their United Club visit.
All three assume a single spouse. You can bet that there will be protest if a woman with four husbands or a man with four wives is limited to two guests.
How would a changing legal view of plural marriage implicate other aspects of travel?
Plural marriage could implicate lifetime companion benefits, elite perks, upgrade priority, and reserved seating. Will it be a relatively easy transition or will airlines fight it since there is greater capacity to game the system under such a relational arrangement?
The point is not that any sort of radical change will occur overnight. Rather, the question is how airlines will adopt to changing views of marriage if that civil institution expands beyond two people. The lounge incident yesterday in Dubai has got me thinking about it…