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Government Employees Blow $146 Million on Business Class

Not exactly an airline story, but interesting nonetheless:  A recent report finds that government employees have wasted more than $146 million on business class tickets they should not have purchased.  Most of these were for business class tickets to Europe, including one Dept of Agriculture official who took 25 business class trips that were supposed to be booked in business class.  Let me tell you, though, the government’s business class policy is somewhat draconian (flights of 14 hours or less to be booked in coach – that means your flight from New York to Tokyo will be enjoyed in the back).  And it certainly seems rough to me to send someone to Liberia and force them to travel there in coach.  With all of the waste in government, why should these staff members have to suffer?  Really, is $146 million that much money?  Don’t we go through that in about 12 minutes in Iraq? (and wouldn’t we have to fly there in coach?)

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  1. given the “Fly american” rules in place for government employees, I’ve always thought the 14 hour requirement was essentialy a subsidy to foreign carriers — not many US carriers go to places outside the 14 hour window (central asia, africa, parts of asia). Don’t we want to money to go to US carriers?

    It’s an insane system….espcially for State or other people that fly 20+ times a year. Yes, they might be able to use mileage to score upgrades, but for pete’s sake give them a break.

    I have an even beter story — governement employees at seven star hotels in dubai — over $14,000 in hotel bills….

  2. Well, I usually fly in coach (because I have to pay for it myself), and I survive, so my sympathies are somewhat limited.

    That said, it does seem wrong for “everyone” to have to travel coach in all circumstances. My observation is that the GSA does a pretty good job negotiating reasonable airfares with the airlines. Couldn’t they do so with int’l biz class? These guys seem like the PERFECT folks to sell otherwise unsold biz class seats to (the airlines are generally reluctant to let frequent flyers upgrade, because they want to make them buy the tickets). It would be a win-win, and the airlines would be helping our country (or at least the folks who run it!).

  3. I’m certain that airlines could work out negotiated business class fares that are reasonable – corporations routinely pay about $2500-$3000 round trip for biz class from NYC to London, well below the $8,000 published fares – but only 2-3x published coach fares. It seems a little nutty to me that high(ish) ranking officials would have to sit in the back prior to negotiating with foreign governments.

  4. And me thinks the “highish ranking officials” are probably more inclined to blow the really big bucks on Air Force trips to AVOID the coach cabin. I mean, if you were a conscientious gov’t employee and the choice was “private jet” or “coach,” what would you choose? :) So the rule may very well be penny wise and pound foolish.