Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer is in hot water for accepting upgrades for himself, his partner and daughter on a recent flight from Vienna to Bangkok en route for a holiday in Vietnam, according to a report in Wiener Zeitung.at. The Chancellor says that he did not receive the upgrades because of his exalted political status, but instead because of his exalted frequent flyer status as a Senator elite cardholder in the Miles & More frequent flyer program of Austrian Airlines. His office reported that he used upgrade vouchers that he’d earned long before he accepted the office of Chancellor but he is being criticized by those who say that he could not possibly earn elite status based on the miles he flies for private purposes. Gusenbauer’s political party, the Austrian Social Democratic Party (SPOe) has a dim view of frequent flyer programs and favors for politicians — the political party demanded that former Finance Minister Karl-Heinz Grasser resign after it became public knowledge that he had accepted upgrades for his traveling companion and himself in late 2004 on a flight from Vienna to the Maldives. Grasser reportedly ignored the demand.
In light of this latest news about Gusenbauer, SPOe Minister Doris Bures is calling to have the mixing of bonus miles from official and private flights banned and to prevent civil servants from using official-flight bonus miles for upgrades on private flights. She has proposed sanctions ranging from fines to dismissal from office.