CNN has reported that a German court recently ruled that miles earned for business travel belong to the employer, not the employee.
A German executive who had earned miles on work-related Lufthansa flights that would have bought more than $11,000 worth of air travel took the matter to court when the employer believed it owned the points.
CNN said the judge ruled in favor of the company, stating that miles collected on business trips belonged to the company that paid for the trip.
The topic of who owns the miles is not new — it’s been long held in similar rulings around the globe that as part of any company’s travel policy the company can establish control of the benefits of business travel. While some in the travel industry see this ruling as a watershed chance for corporations to use miles earned on business travel to save on the corporate travel budget, the practical matter and history of such rulings prove that nothing will likely change. Among many factors, two predominately stand out: Taking miles from employees earned while on business travel can lead to employee animosity, and no company can afford a disgruntled group of employees; and the cost of “managing” the miles can create a watered-down appearance of savings. InsideFlyer reported just months ago that even Wal-Mart has changed its position and now lets its employees keep their miles, as has the U.S. government.