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Violent pastor attacks wife over first class upgrade

Violent pastor attacks wife over first class upgrade

A pastor faces up to a year in prison after assaulting his wife because she was upgraded to first class while he was not. It turned out to be a pattern of violence, but it was the upgrade incident that finally prompted the wife to come forward and (hopefully) no longer tolerate his behavior…

First-class upgrade in Alaska causes marital problems

The incident occurred on July 2, 2024, on Alaska Airlines flight AS275 from Seattle (SEA) to Anchorage (ANC). A 75-year-old evangelical pastor, Roger Allan Holmberg Sr., was traveling with his 59-year-old wife. They had only been married for about 18 months, with Holmberg having lost his previous wife shortly before.

What precipitated this incident was that Holmberg’s wife was upgraded to first class, while Holmberg was not. It is unclear whether she had elite status and he did not, whether she simply had higher elite status or higher priority, or what.

Here’s what happened on that flight, according to the criminal complaint:

  • Shortly after the 3:30 a.m. flight departed, Holmberg approached his wife in first class and asked, “How the hell did you get that upgrade?”
  • She responded by saying, “I’m a Gold Point member” and “Don’t talk to me like that.”
  • Then, in a second interaction, Holmberg approached his wife in first class, handed her his phone, told her to read what was on the screen, and then “gave her the finger.”
  • In a third confrontation, he “pushed in front of” his wife’s seatmate and “attempted to swing his arm toward the victim,” and while the seatmate “leaned forward to block the attempted blow, Holmberg still appeared to strike the top of the victim’s head with his hand.”

At that point, an off-duty police officer sitting in front of Holmberg’s wife noticed the disturbance and told Holmberg that if he continued his behavior, he would be handcuffed. At that point, the disturbance ceased.

Upon landing, the plane was met by an FBI special agent and an Anchorage airport police officer. Holmberg was arrested for simple assault. If convicted at trial, he faces up to a year in prison. In addition, Holmberg is now banned from flying Alaska Airlines.

This drama concerned an upgrade to first class

Unfortunately, there was a broader pattern of abuse

Unfortunately, this isn’t a cute story about how to handle first-class upgrades in a relationship when one person gets the upgrade and the other doesn’t. Quite the contrary, this incident highlighted a much bigger problem.

After speaking to authorities at the Anchorage airport, Holmberg’s wife admitted that her husband had a history of abusing her. She described how he broke her finger last September and confirmed that he had “hit her on the head with the back of his knuckles” on the plane, adding that he “knew she was epileptic and that touching her head could cause a seizure.”

She had thought about reporting the abuse she had suffered in the past, but she never did. But this incident finally pushed her to do so.

Holmberg admitted that he and his wife were having marital problems and that they had been seeing a therapist to try to improve their relationship. However, he claimed that the problems were entirely his wife’s fault (yes, he really does seem like a reasonable man). Holmberg claims that his wife was disrespectful to him and often had anger issues.

Regarding this specific upgrade incident, Holmberg said he was upset about his wife’s upgrade to first class, “because he wanted his wife to travel with him and sit next to him.” He also said he did not actually hit her, but rather “hit his wife on the head as he walked by to get her attention.”

This incident prompted the pastor’s wife to come forward.

In conclusion

While couples take different approaches to sharing first-class upgrades, one thing is for sure: It’s not acceptable to mistreat your spouse over an upgrade. That’s exactly what a 75-year-old pastor did recently on an Alaska Airlines flight, to his young wife no less.

If this guy acts like this in public, I can only imagine how he acts behind closed doors. It’s sad, but it seems like this public incident is what the woman needed to finally press charges against him and hold him accountable.

What do you think about this upgrade incident?