Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

Brinker's First Class Flights

18 February 2012

A lot of people have focused on senior Komen execs’ compensation. I’m not sure if $400,000 is out of line for similar non-profit execs or not, but my first thought was: it’s probably not.
However, there is the issue of Brinker’s expense report.

At the Komen foundation, as the chief executive officer and founder, Brinker is approved for first-class travel, according to the foundation’s tax records.
Cohen of Nonprofit Quarterly points out that first-class travel at a nonprofit organization not only is unusual, but also can create the perception that donors’ dollars aren’t reaching the intended beneficiaries. “For most nonprofits, they wouldn’t think of first-class travel,” he says. “There is the issue of perception.”
Says one former employee: “How many mammograms could you buy for those first-class tickets?”

For an exec like Brinker, business class airfare, if available for discount, may be typical. First class isn’t, but that’s what Brinker flies.
Let’s look at the cost, shall we? These prices are for San Francisco to New York on United:
Price I paid a couple of weeks ago: $299.60 (S class)
Current cheapest coach: $318.60 (W class)
Refundable coach: $1,489.60 (B class, which is not the most expensive coach fare)
Cheapest business: $3,383.60 (Z class)
Refundable business: $4,597.60 (D class)
Cheapest first class: $4651.20 (No non-stop on the return, mix of F and A fares with one Y segment, so we know she wouldn’t have booked this one!)
Refundable first class: $6,385.60 (F class all the way)
So while it might be defensible for Brinker to book the cheapest business class fare at a bit over 11 times the coach fare costs, if she’s typically flying first class, she’d probably have booked the first class at 21.3 times the price of the coach ticket. That delta could have paid for mammograms and research.
Some of you might say: but why business at all? The simple answer on a transcon is better sleep, food (important if you spend a lot of time on a plane), and lounge access (always including food, frequently including showers) at the end of your journey. It’s probably warranted on a longer trip (especially an overnight), but not on a short one.

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