Guide To Flying On Other People’s Money

THE NEW YORK TIMES – OCTOBER 1985 – View Actual Article Here.

Junior Executives Flying First Class are the Best Leads on Companies Ripe for a Takeover and Restructuring

“One of my banking friends in mergers and acquisition investment tells me that if not for the junior executives flying first class, he would lose his best source of leads on which inefficient companies are ripe for a corporate takeover and restructuring.”

To the Editor:
Your editorial on corporate employees vacationing at the expense of stockholders (”Flying High for Free, More or Less,” Oct. 23) reminded me of how I learned always to fly discount.

I spent the first five years of my business career at Citibank learning to fly first class everywhere at stockholders’ expense.

One month after leaving Citibank to become president of a private $100 million company, I found myself embarrassingly booked first class for $459 on a flight with my multimillionaire chairman who had a $99 advance-purchase discount ticket.

Several weeks later, I received a call from his controller explaining that they were eliminating from my budget the $30,000 I had itemized for my (first-class) flights, raising my immediate compensation by the same amount and modifying my employment agreement so that I paid for all my corporate flights. The explanation was, ”Michael doesn’t mind you flying first class but wants to be sure that you’re spending his money the same way you’d spend your own.”

I have always flown at the lowest discount fare since and derive significant satisfaction when I see a neighboring passenger’s ticket at several times my cost. One of my banking friends in mergers and acquisition investment tells me that if not for the junior executives flying first class, he would lose his best source of leads on which inefficient companies are ripe for a corporate takeover and restructuring.

PAUL ZANE PILZER Dallas, Oct. 23, 1985

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