Once again someone has questioned why public servants, traveling at taxpayers’ expense, are allowed to redeem frequent flyer miles for themselves instead of for travel on state business. This time, the state is cash-strapped California. Legislative leaders in California have stated that they will reexamine their policy on use of frequent flyer award tickets after The Watchdog questioned their current policy. The state is facing a projected $25.4 billion budget deficit in 2012.
Currently, the state’s official travel handbook for all workers, including lawmakers, states: “Frequent flyer points/premiums/vouchers received by the employee because of travel on official state business are the property of the employee.”
Although some lawmakers are considering a change in policy, others point out that accounting for free trips would be problematic given the airlines issue miles to individuals and the state employees use the same frequent flyer number for personal as well as business trips. As a result, the state would likely have to divert resources to track trips and that could very well cost more than it would save. Nevertheless, the Senate Rules Committee expects to take up the issue in the future to see if a manageable policy can be implemented.