Abuser pastor attacks wife over promotion to first class

A pastor is facing a year in prison for assaulting his wife because she was promoted to first grade and he wasn’t. As it turns out, there was a pattern of abuse, but it was the promotion incident that finally caused his wife to come forward and (I hope) stop tolerating his behavior…

Alaska’s First Class Upgrade Causes Marital Trouble

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

The reason for this incident is that Holmberg’s wife was promoted to first class and Holmberg was not. It is unclear whether she had elite status and he did not, or simply had higher elite status, or higher priority, or something else.

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

  • Shortly after the 3.5-hour flight, Holmberg approached his wife in first class and asked, “How the hell did you get that update?”
  • She responded by saying, “I am a Gold Point member” and “don’t talk to me like that”
  • Then, during a second interaction, Holmberg approached his wife in the first-class classroom, handed her his phone, told her to read what was on the screen, and then “gave her the middle finger.”
  • During the third confrontation, he “pushed himself in front of” his wife who was sitting next to him and “attempted to swing his hand at the victim,” and while the woman sitting next to him “leaned forward to block the attempted punch, Holmberg continued to appear to strike the top of the victim’s head with his hand.”

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

When the plane landed, he was met by an FBI special agent and an Anchorage airport police officer. Holmberg was arrested on a charge of simple assault. If convicted at trial, he faces up to a year in prison. Holmberg was also banned from flying on Alaska Airlines again.

The whole drama was about the first class upgrade

Unfortunately, the abuses were more widespread

Unfortunately, this isn’t some sweet story about how to handle first-class upgrades in a relationship when one person gets them and the other doesn’t. On the contrary, the incident revealed a much bigger problem.

Speaking to Anchorage airport officials, Holmberg’s wife admitted that her husband had a history of abuse toward her. She recounted how he broke her finger last September and confirmed that he “hit her in the head with the back of his knuckles” on a plane, adding that he “knew she had epilepsy and that contact with her head could cause a seizure.”

She had reportedly thought about reporting the abuse in the past but never did. However, this incident finally made her want to report it.

Holmberg admitted that he and his wife had marital problems and were going to therapy to improve the relationship. However, he claimed that the problems were entirely her fault (yes, he definitely sounds like a reasonable guy). Holmberg claims that his wife was rude to him and often had anger issues.

In relation to this particular promotion incident, Holmberg said he was angry about his wife’s promotion to first class “because he wanted his wife to travel with him and sit next to him.” He also said that he did not actually hit her, but rather “slapped my wife on the head as I walked past to get her attention.”

This incident caused the pastor’s wife to report to the police.


While couples have different approaches to sharing first-class upgrades, one thing is for sure — it’s not okay to abuse your spouse because of an upgrade. That’s exactly what a 75-year-old pastor did to his newlywed wife on a recent Alaska Airlines flight.

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

What do you think about this update incident?