Do You Ever Travel “First Class” as a Gov’t Employee?

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This topic contains 20 replies, has 17 voices, and was last updated by  Steve 10 years, 1 month ago.

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  • #104306

    An article by GovExec indicates that GSA has released new guidance for Federal employees on how to report non-Coach Class travel…

    While I was at the Graduate School (formerly Graduate School, USDA), I never traveled anything other than coach – and I’ve never talked to a government employee that has used premium unless they have a bunch of points/miles stacked up that they can use to upgrade their travel.
    So do you travel premium class? Or do you know people who have?
  • #104346


    Nope. Always coach class for me.

  • #104344


    Responses starting to sound like private sector – depends who you are and where you are on the org. chart!?

  • #104342

    Ed Albetski

    Crowded coach with a mandatory crying baby. Just as Robert Benchley referred to family trips: “traveling third class in Bulgaria”.

  • #104340

    Stephen Peteritas

    Down in Mississippi the Governor got busted last year for taking the state plane for personal trips to pick up grandkids and family vacations. Now the plane has since been sold and he puts that he flew commercially at the bottom of every travel press release.

  • #104338

    I see what you mean…for others who haven’t seen the article, here are the first 3 comments:

    Shouldn’t someone really take a look at agency’s that have excessive amounts budgeted for travel? In my agency it is not uncommon for senior leadership to travel to the Far East for a few days, then turnaround and take a quick trip to Europe—all at Government expense. What is lost in this scenario is that these same “senior leaders” are building a retirement “nest-egg” of frequent flyer mileage at the cost that was originally born by the American taxpayer! Who cares? No one! Because the abuser’s are the policy makers.
    Had Enough Posted June 29, 201012:07 PM

    Upgrades to coach??? 32 years with DoD and I haev never seen this happen unless the traveler pays for the upgrade out of pocket. Maybe the rest of the government should look to DoD as a model. And by the way – hold Senators and Congressmen to this as well – no upgrades on the taxpayer’s dime – unless the traveler pays for the upgrade out of pocket. Now THAT would have a bundle.
    Kathy Posted June 29, 20107:57 AM

    I can already hear the excuses I haven’t been trained, we have a better method, our folks work on the plane, it hurts morale
    dan ketter Posted June 28, 20101:40 PM

  • #104336

    Pat Rupert

    On occasion, I travel premium with upgrade charges paid for by me. I’m not even sure it is possible for someone like me to get the taxpayer to fund premium travel, but then I’m not an executive type.
    When flying to D.C., I have boarded with federal elected officials, who do fly first class.

  • #104334

    Funny you mention that, Pat. I was on a flight with 3 of my (Federal) congressmen, and all of them flew coach. I actually shook their hands and told them I was impressed with the fact that they made that decision…

  • #104332

    Ted Kniker

    The only time I flew other than coach, was business class, when the travel was longer than 14 hours. In fact, the return route was 13 hours and 52 minutes, but I still had to fly coach because it hadn’t crossed the 14 hour threshold. But never first class.

    Also had an experience flying in coach with Senator Richard Lugar. Not only was I impressed that he flew coach, but when the flight crew offered to move him to first class, he told them about a young man further back in the plane who was active military (serving in Iraq at the time) and asked that the solider be moved up, if anyone was to take the seat.

  • #104330

    Laura Strohbach

    I’ve upgraded to first class either using points or paying out of my pocket. My points are based on government travel and personal travel, and I have at the end of several years, bought points with my own money to attain a certain level of frequent flyer. Until American took out the extra leg room about 9 years ago, I could shift around enough in coach rows and stretch out my legs enough to help relieve the pressure on my sciatica, but now almost any row, except the exit row, is painful. I could probably justify it medically to upgrade, but so far I have just gritted my teeth and borne it.

    I worked with a man who is 6’9″ tall, and once we flew from Seattle to Denver–around 4 hours. He basically had his knees in his shoulder pits for the entire time. Another case when the Government should pay for the upgrade. I can just see him developing blood clots because of super-restrictive circulation.

  • #104328

    Herman N. Cohen

    1) Not only are we required to book coach (it requires permission of the Secretary to go 1st class – or even business class) on one occassion, “Zegato” – the system we used before FedTraveler – came up with a contract fare of $700 (I think it was to Manchester, NH) while the 1st Class fare was $600 – and they made me book the more expensive coach fare.

    2) Since the change in Administration we’ve been encouraged to use non-contract, non-refundable tickets if they are cheaper than the contract cost and we’re pretty sure that the trip won’t get cancelled.

    3) I recently took Amtrak – and policy is that you can take the Acela – which is all business class – and still be “within policy”

    4) I’ve been flying so much lately that I’ve reached “silver” status on one airline – and frequently get automatic upgrades without any cost ($ or miles). But when I’m sitting up front I avoid telling my seat mates who I work for, lest they think Uncle Sam is paying for 1st class.

    5) On other airlines, when I occassionally upgrade using my own money, checked baggage – usually $25 and reimbursed by the government – now becomes free to the government – but I can’t claim that part of the upgrade fee even though I’ve essentially “paid” for checking my bag.

  • #104326

    Henry Brown

    Don’t much fly but some of my co-workers “regularly” upgrade to business class because of the massive amount of frequent flyer miles they accumulate attending attending/conducting training sessions. They tell me that if they are going to have to fly more than 6 hours(including layovers) they will use their frequent flyer miles to upgrade.

    They also tell me that they will often take advantage of volunteering to be bumped so that the airline will, as a courtesy, upgrade them to business class on the next available flight thereby not having to use their points for an upgrade.

  • #104324

    Jeff Ellsworth

    In my state, employees like myself haven’t had the budget to fly anywhere recently, but when we could, it was always coach. And we were not permitted to use personal miles to upgrade a seat purchased at State expense.

    And the State arranged it so miles or other rewards earned while flying at State expense reverted back to the State and not to the employee. Even if you got bumped, any compensation you received for that bump belonged to the state rather than to you.

  • #104322

    Kitty Wooley

    I can SO relate to this!!!

  • #104320

    Kitty Wooley

    I’ve always flown coach when on government business and always will; it wouldn’t occur to me to do anything else.

  • #104318

    Anita Arile

    In our government, only the Governor, the First Lady and the Lt. Gov may travel first/business class…

  • #104316

    Anita Arile

    Oh this is so true in our government.. although when the travel is purchased, the “mileage” earned is used towards the “Medically Indigent Program”… this is thru a “bank card that earns mileage per dollar”… but when the traveler logs in to their personal account, they earn the “actual miles flown” and “keep it”…

    And yes, there are MANY Elite and Millionaire milers in our government too!

  • #104314

    Brenda Roth

    Wouldn’t that be nice! Like you Andrew, I know people who might travel in an upgraded status if they have the air miles available. I did upgrade to first class once on a cross-country flight but it was very cheap (on Northwest Airlines I think). I think they wanted to fill the first-class section and the plane wasn’t full so it was only $75 to upgrade which I paid with my own credit card. Thanks for the update on the article. I’m checking that out now. Brenda

  • #104312

    Douglas E. Bear

    Must have been a really slow plane your friend flew on. My last flight Seattle to Denver was 2:36.

  • #104310

    Kathleen Diehl

    On two occasions, when I checked in at the ticket counter, my coach accommodations were upgraded to business or first class. The ticket agent told me one one occasion that if he had first class seats empty, he looked over his list for someone traveling for the government and upgraded their ride. I was excited at first for the upgrade, but felt uncomfortable sitting in first class–lots of stares, not very welcome. Nobody talked to me.

  • #104308

    Robert M. Watts

    I just noticed this post. I have upgraded to business class using only my own miles or Frequent Flyer status on all but one occasion in my entire 30-year career, and on that occasion was going directly from Washington, DC to Goa, India, a total trip of about 25 hours. My agency now does not allow any upgrades, and the default in the travel system (E2 Solutions) is to the absolute lowest contract fare available. To me, this is pretty foolish, as allowing booking at the slightly higher Y fare contract rate rather than the rock bottom rate allows a much greater possibility of an upgrade, and is a cheaper upgrade for the passenger for long-haul flights. Perhaps it ought to be at the discretion of the traveler to pay the difference between the two contract fares.

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