While this is not the quite the obvious Civil Rights/Women's Rights issue that some may try to make it out to be, most of ESPN's sideline reporters fly Coach unless they pay or it themselves, or (like Doug Gottlieb) use accrued miles to upgrade to 1st Class. According to Deadspin this is a portion of an internal email memo:
The place where this whole thing smells just a bit is that Erin Andrews, flew first class — also female, a sideline reporter. Hmm so what's the difference?? Could it be that Ms. Andrews is the defending two-time Playboy’s Sexiest Sportscaster?!?!?
Perhaps that's not the reason, but if there is another explanation for the apparent "sideline reporters fly coach, unless they are judged to be blazing hot by a leading men's magazine" double standard I'd like to hear it. Hey I bet magazines like Smooth, King and Black Men would pick Lisa Salters over any of those lanky blonds, so can a sister get an upgrade? I am with the many who feel that if all sideline reporters were replaced by cardboard cut-outs few would notice, with a handful of exceptions. However, this is either, as many believe, a tempest in a teapot or perhaps indicates a lack of respect for how fans who do want to hear from the best available talent rather than the prettiest.
Source Confirms Stacey Dales Quit ESPN Because She Wouldn't Fly Coach [Deadspin]