# How should we split this travel bill?February 17, 2011 7:09 PM   Subscribe

How should two sisters split the benefit of gifted frequent flyer miles when they have different sized families?

Two sisters, Nancy and Sara are going to visit their extended family. Nancy has one small child who can ride on her moms lap, Sara has two small children who need their own seats. Nancy and Sara have been given two tickets worth of miles by their mother to help out with the trip. Their mom didn't indicate how she wants them divided, simply said "I can give two tickets! Yay free tickets!".

What is the most fair way to split costs, assuming ?

Option A: Each daughter gets a ticket. Nancy ends up not paying, Sara pays for two kid tickets.

Option B: Split costs 50/50.

Option C: Before the miles, Nancy would have paid 25% of the total airfare bill, so she should pay 25% after the miles, too.

Option D: ??

Nancy and Sara are similarly middle class. The ticket costs will not be a hardship for either.
posted by Nickel Pickle to Work & Money (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Each daughter gets a ticket. Nancy is not responsible for paying for Sarah's child-bearing choices.
posted by decathecting at 7:15 PM on February 17, 2011 [35 favorites]

Option D: Sara gets the two free tickets to pay for her children's seats. Both Nancy and Sara each pay for one ticket.
posted by shiny blue object at 7:16 PM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

Either A or C seems fair and reasonable.

But given that Nancy can afford it, even without the free ticket, Nancy should definitely buy her child a seat of its own, as it is much, much safer for the child. That would adjust the percentages in Option C.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:16 PM on February 17, 2011

mom gave the sisters two tickets - those two tickets should go to the sisters. the kids shouldn't factor.
posted by nadawi at 7:18 PM on February 17, 2011 [4 favorites]

Option C all the way. Mom loves them all and probably would have preferred to give her discount equally, but the pesky reality of discrete math intervened.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 7:22 PM on February 17, 2011

I think each sister is entitled to one ticket for her family. But if I were the sister with the lap child, I'd offer to go with option C.
posted by slide at 7:22 PM on February 17, 2011

Each daughter gets a ticket. Just strap the kids to the roof rack. (Kidding!)

Actually, if it's really going to be an issue, pay for the trip to mom's out-of-pocket. Use the miles to go on a kid-free, sisters-only weekend trip to Vegas (or wherever you guys consider fun).
posted by phunniemee at 7:22 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Look, obviously if Nancy wants to give Sarah some money, she can. I assumed that the question was posted because the sisters were having a disagreement and wanted some outside advice about other people's opinions on the fairest way to settle it.

I don't think it's very kind to accuse people of being inhuman or of not loving their families because they disagree with you about money.
posted by decathecting at 7:33 PM on February 17, 2011 [3 favorites]

Each sister gets one seat.
posted by arnicae at 7:57 PM on February 17, 2011

If there's no hardship involved, I'd say one ticket for each sibling, not because of anybody's childbearing choices but because the gift appears to be meant for both of you, and so you both should get a benefit. You'll both save the same amount over what you originally would have paid for the trip. If the sister with more children could afford the trip either way, she'll still be saving a chunk of money. I would think of it in terms of dividing the savings evenly, rather than dividing how many seats you have to pay for evenly. That wasn't going to be even to start with, so the gift shouldn't change that, or it's really not a gift to you both.

If it was meant for only Sara, Mom would have given the miles *to Sara*.
posted by gracedissolved at 8:04 PM on February 17, 2011 [8 favorites]

Option A seems like the fairest to me. The mom probably should have made her intentions clearer, but if she would have wanted the points to cover the two kids' tickets, she would have given them all to Sara.
posted by OLechat at 8:05 PM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

Option A. Mom gave each daughter a ticket.
If Sara had 3 children, would Nancy buy her own ticket and one for one of her sister's child?
posted by Linnee at 8:23 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Option A.
posted by leahwrenn at 8:44 PM on February 17, 2011

Thanks everyone! Interesting that opinions were all across the board here, but I really appreciate all the advice. Each sis is going to get a ticket, but Nancy is in charge of buying drinks for any poor passenger with the unlucky fate of sitting near us.

It was very much a "I'll just pay 50/50" "no, no, you don't need to do that, you're not responsible for my rugrats!" sort of a conversation. Having all your excellent points of view really helped. Cheers!
posted by Nickel Pickle at 8:53 PM on February 17, 2011

Option E: Mom keeps her miles! If the cost of the airfare was not a hardship for either sibling, why take Mom's miles at all? Let her use them to come visit another time.
posted by apparently at 4:08 AM on February 18, 2011

Somebody has the chance to grab the moral highground here and had better act fast before the other sister grabs it.
posted by vitabellosi at 4:34 AM on February 18, 2011

It was very much a "I'll just pay 50/50" "no, no, you don't need to do that, you're not responsible for my rugrats!" sort of a conversation. Having all your excellent points of view really helped. Cheers!

Looks like nobody assumed the argument was coming from this direction...

Not that it changes the answers any, but it changes the tone.

Alert: make SURE the littlest one really can sit on mom's lap and doesn't need a seat. Airlines can be fickle. If the airline suddenly requires an extra seat, it makes the split less lopsided.

I like the "buying drinks" solution. Each sister gets to feel like they have contributed more or less equally. If nobody wants any drinks, Nancy buys dinner one extra time.
posted by gjc at 6:02 AM on February 18, 2011

Option A
posted by WizKid at 8:52 AM on February 18, 2011

Nancy and Sara may want to come up with a good-natured and amusing way to communicate to their parent(s) that, in the future, it would be a good idea to be /really explicit/ about how gifts should be divided between them, for the sake of maintaining their awesome cordiality. It's better to awaken to this potential issue over a matter of hundreds of dollars than thousands, or more.
posted by endless_forms at 10:12 AM on February 18, 2011

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