Only in America does it take an act of Congress to determine who owns your frequent flyer miles. This has recently become a very popular topic in Washington D.C., as ranking members of Congress (i.e., those members who haven’t been able to figure out how to use the miles and upgrades they earn when flying on “official” business without getting caught) introduced legislation to take back their miles.
Citing the cost burden of managing these miles and the adverse impact the current law has when it comes to recruiting and retaining employees who would otherwise keep their miles in the private sector, the Congressmen introduced the legislation (H.R. 2456) which will, in effect, legally return the miles which most government employees already keep and use. Truth be told, most government agencies do not capture and manage these miles as they are supposed to, and it has been comical to watch as they subvert any reasonable efforts to make these programs work.
But if you want to see something really funny, watch how fast the government can get a bill passed when there’s something in it for them personally? This legislation was first introduced on July 11, when it was referred to the House Committee on Government Reform. Committee consideration and the first mark-up session was held on July 25. On July 30, there was a motion to suspend the normal rules for this type of legislation and pass the bill – this motion was agreed to by voice vote without objection. The very next day the bill was sent by express delivery to the Senate, read twice and referred to the Committee on Governmental Affairs.
Now that’s what we call smooth sailing. And who can blame them? For most government employees, this bill represents a bigger windfall than the George W. Bush tax rebates.
Of course, airlines could mess this whole thing up by declaring that government fares are not truly “published” airfares and thus, they are not eligible to earn frequent flyer miles (this is a real possibility, given the airlines efforts to block the earning of miles on so-called Internet-only airfares such as Northwest WorldPerks CyberSavers). After all, some hotel programs exclude government rates and contracted rates from earning points in their programs.
A tip for all of you would-be lobbyists: try to get anything you want passed attached to the back of this bill – it’s as good as guaranteed.