How many hours until business class is justified?

July 25th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A group of Auckland councillors have managed to retain a business-class-travel perk, but a bid to give them free parking has been voted down.

The move comes as reduced library hours, street cleaning and an end to inorganic rubbish collections are on the table for sweeping budget cuts.

George Wood, Christine Fletcher, Denise Krum and Calum Penrose were among those who voted yesterday to defeat an amendment by councillor John Watson to restrict business-class air travel to health grounds only.

Councillors get to keep the perk of sitting in business class when taking flights of more than six hours and conducting council business within 24 hours of landing at an overseas destination.

It took the casting vote of finance committee chairman and Labour councillor Ross Clow to keep the status quo in the elected members’ expenses policy, despite many of his left-wing colleagues voting to tighten the rules.

Right wingers Cameron Brewer and Dick Quax supported the left to tighten the rules.

Mr Clow justified his decision on the basis that elected representatives needed to turn up fresh and fully prepared to represent Auckland after long-haul travel beyond most of Australia.

I’m not an advocate of no business class travel ever for Councillors. If you are flying to London  for example, I think business class is appropriate, as otherwise it takes ages to recover from a 24 to 30 hour plane trip.

But a threshold of six hours seems too low for me. You don’t need business class to Perth or Hawaii or some of Asia. A fair policy I think might be:

  • Economy for flights up to six hours
  • Premium Economy for flights of six to 12 hours
  • Business for over 12 hours
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39 Responses to “How many hours until business class is justified?”

  1. Redbaiter (9,632 comments) says:

    I see little reason for any Auckland councilor to be going on overseas air trips, business or economy.

    Just look after the pavements and roads and sewers.

    Forget the rest of it.

    Rates are far far too high, and we need to get local govt back to basics.

    (BTW, I hope those using business class are not any of the recently mentioned 400 planners.)

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  2. mikemikemikemike (331 comments) says:

    I’m agreeing twice in one day DPF! – I wonder why a councillor would actually need to travel overseas, but forgetting that your proposal is not unreasonable, I think maybe 6-9 hours for premium economy might work better. This would get you as far as Asia and the time difference is not so bad that you get out of whack. 12 hours puts you in LA however and that is a hell of a flight if you have been awake in economy and then expected to work straight away (given you are almost assured of at least a 2hr wait at LAX customs).

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  3. queenstfarmer (782 comments) says:

    You omitted the “WTF????” part of the article:

    Council staff racked up $10.5 million in domestic and international travel in the first two years of the Super City.

    Some of the trips included visits to far-flung countries such as Brazil, Nepal and Finland.

    WTF?

    When did this nonsense start? Were council staff flying around the world in the ’70s and ’80s? Will Auckland be one iota worse off if all international junkets were scrapped? I think not.

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  4. kowtow (8,776 comments) says:

    What business would they have in London or anywhere else overseas for that matter?

    These troughers are shockers for spending other peoples’ money. Sister or twin cities is another spending example that needs to be binned.

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  5. MarkF (102 comments) says:

    Or go a day earlier an extra nights accommodation doesn’t add up to the difference between economy and business!

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  6. Tarquin North (361 comments) says:

    Cattle class is to good for these troughers. Wonder what happens to the frequent flier points?

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  7. lastmanstanding (1,303 comments) says:

    These morons just don’t get it. I have lived in the same house for the past 35 years. Over that time under the East Coast Bays Borough Council North Shore City Council and now Auckland City Council my rates have rise from $230 a year to $3000 a year an increase of over 1300%.

    By comparison according to Statistics New Zealand the average wage has risen 450% along with the CPI. You can ckeck these numbers out at their website like I did.

    So mine and everyone elses rates have increased by 3 times the rate of inflation and wage increases.

    And the service levels have DECREASED.

    Brown and his arsehole Councillors along with the obscenely overpaid Town Clerk and the 1500 other employees on over $150K a year along with the 1000 in the planning department and the 600 in the policy department need to be bought into line.

    They along with central government morons like Rodney Hide who promised lower rates more efficiencies and better services have conned the long suffering rate payers for too long.

    At the next Council elections I will be voting for others not the current spend other peoples money like drunken sailors lot we have now.

    End of rant.

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  8. RRM (10,026 comments) says:

    I’m not an advocate of no business class travel ever for Councillors. If you are flying to London for example, I think business class is appropriate, as otherwise it takes ages to recover from a 24 to 30 hour plane trip.

    FUCK OFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I’m with Baiter on this. Why on EARTH would Auckland City Councillors need to fly to London?

    They don’t appear to do fuck all with their feet on the ground in Auckland, let’s not pretend they are going to launch into any vital business the second their feet touch the ground in a foreign country.

    And I wonder if any of them would opt for business class if they were paying their own way?

    Plenty of better people than fucking city councillors manage to sleep while flying economy class, riding in trains etc and still get up and perform when they get to where they’re going.

    These troughers need to remember they are here to serve the ratepayers, not the other way around.

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  9. James Stephenson (2,228 comments) says:

    If you are flying to London for example, I think business class is appropriate, as otherwise it takes ages to recover from a 24 to 30 hour plane trip.

    Bollocks. Premium economy gives you a plenty good enough seat to get some kip and if you can’t be straight into it at the far end, lay off mixing alcohol and altitude.

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  10. mister nui (1,030 comments) says:

    There is absolutely no good reason for a councillor to be flying to London, let alone Brasil, Nepal, or Timbuktu. Why the fuck these assholes need to be going to these places, I’ll never know, Nepal, for fucks sake. What on earth were they doing there? Come on, send us your report that you did following your trip to Nepal and all the economic benefits that this trip had for Auckland ratepayers.

    Most international companies operate an 8 or 10 hour line for economy vs. business. The exception to this would be the major oil companies who range between 4 and 6 hours. Shell is a beauty to work for at only 4 hours….

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  11. somewhatthoughtful (467 comments) says:

    All you prudes are hilarious. Especially when you’ll be the first to complain that they’re not following international best practice etc etc. God, this place is a gold mine of NZ comedy and unintentional satire.

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  12. tvb (4,516 comments) says:

    FFS some new bureaucratic rule about flying on an aeroplane. Next you will be suggesting this rule should be promulgated by the Local Government Commission or such like. Where does personal judgement come from these days. Or are we all children who have to be told what to do.

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  13. mister nui (1,030 comments) says:

    FFS some new bureaucratic rule about flying on an aeroplane

    It’s not a bureaucratic rule, it’s a simple policy, just like most other companies have as part of their travel policy.

    I guess you’ll never encounter it though…. not much progression in call centres…

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  14. James Stephenson (2,228 comments) says:

    international best practice

    Which is councillors not having jolly junkets to the other side of the world…and not paying the Town Clerk mega bucks to be called a “CEO”

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  15. gravedodger (1,571 comments) says:

    If the Councillors have so little power and influence their only options to restrain a lusty mayor who might fly to HK for what exactly who knows what, beyond a censure, why in the name of the prophet would they need to fly beyond Wellington (NZ).

    They are little more than seat warmers so an economy seat will do just fine to be warming.

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  16. RRM (10,026 comments) says:

    somewhatthoughtful (451 comments) says:
    July 25th, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    All you prudes are hilarious. Especially when you’ll be the first to complain that they’re not following international best practice etc etc. God, this place is a gold mine of NZ comedy and unintentional satire.

    I have to ask – do you actually pay local council rates?

    I mean “pay local council rates” in the sense that a rates invoice for thousands of dollars with your name and address on it arrives in the mail a few times a year, and you have to arrange to pay it.

    You sound like someone who hasn’t yet experienced this, is all.

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  17. Steve Wrathall (285 comments) says:

    “it takes ages to recover from a 24 to 30 hour plane trip….” bollocks. Get up and stretch your legs periodically. Or teleconference whatever vital business it is

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  18. shoreboy57 (140 comments) says:

    Could said Councillors please provide one shred of evidence where their international travel has generated nett economic benefit to the City?

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  19. alloytoo (574 comments) says:

    The first thing a family does when faced with belt tightening is cancel the overseas trip.

    Council should do the same. (It was all fracking troughing anyway)

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  20. lastmanstanding (1,303 comments) says:

    Over a number of years I have travelled AK/HR economy direct arriving at HR on the 5.30am flight then shuttle bus HR to modest hotel next to Regents Park showered shaved fresh set of clothes and then walked the 10 minutes to the London office at Park Cres for 9.00am start.

    Done a full days work and then out with colleagues to dinner and drinks in the evening and bed around 10pm. Up next day for work at usual time.

    No big deal plenty of others can do it. It all bullshit and egos to travel business/first class when some other bastards paying the bill.

    If I employed these morons they would get the same deal as me. if they want to travel up the pointy end then pay themselves with their bloated fees and other payments.

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  21. peterwn (3,309 comments) says:

    Does going ‘business class’ actually help you at the other end? Time before last I flew long haul, I vowed never to travel economy again, but Scottish instincts took over next time I booked, and funnily I did not have the ‘never again’ feeling at either end.

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  22. dime (10,125 comments) says:

    Well to be fair, we do have 6 sister cities:

    Sister cities

    Australia Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
    China Guangzhou, Guangdong, China[14]
    Germany Hamburg, Germany[15]
    Japan Fukuoka, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan
    South Korea Busan, South Korea
    United States Los Angeles, California, United States
    Taiwan Taichung, Taiwan

    AND a couple of Friendship cities
    Friendship cities

    Japan Tomioka, Fukushima, Japan
    Japan Shinagawa, Tokyo, Japan

    Without these relationships Auckland would be truly fucked!

    PLUS how are we supposed to stay cultured if some local body shithead doesn’t fly around the world looking at art?

    What about climate change? Surely we should have someone at every major conference.

    Seriously, fuck these people

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  23. Paulus (2,668 comments) says:

    Years ago my Company policy was
    Any flight sector 8 hours and over Business (I am of the age also before Business Class, so was First with BOAC until Business came in). As long as there was one sector over 8 hours all was Business.
    Any other steerage, like Australia and Pacific Islands
    However, at the time I remember Lufthansa only ran Business at times in Europe for Business people travelling -there was no option those timings

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  24. dime (10,125 comments) says:

    peter – its more comfy during the flight.. but its not like you get amazing sleep in business class. i feel the same no matter what class im in

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  25. dime (10,125 comments) says:

    How bout this for a policy.

    If these low rent Councillors can produce evidence that they fly business for personal travel, we will look at it.

    Bet they dont. Bet they fly economy using air miles from the rate payer funded trips

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  26. dirty harry (515 comments) says:

    Mr Nui ..you work for the yellow one eh ? I work for the green one. Bastards, all of them

    Getting back to the troughers…well , what are we going to do about it ?

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  27. KiwiGreg (3,259 comments) says:

    Like most local government things, it’s not a question of trying to do it better (rules fro business class travel) it’s just not doing it at all – as has been pointed out there is really no value to Auckland ratepayers in having councilors or staff travelling overseas.

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  28. Elaycee (4,410 comments) says:

    Companies I have been with throughout my corporate life, have similar travel policies. The Board / CEO fly Business Class. [If you think it’s a perk, apply for the job]. The Board, CEO and senior managers can’t fly on the same plane – for obvious reasons. For all others travelling, flights longer than 6 hours = business class. Otherwise it’s in PE. Staff keep ‘their’ Airpoints and use them for upgrades etc.

    But it’s bollocks to suggest a day of rest is needed at the other end before doing business – even with trips to Europe. The beauty of living in NZ is that most long haul travel (apart from Japan) is done at night and this means plenty of sleep en route. And it’s no harder when in PE – I’ve done it many times over the years. Allow a little time at the other end for a quick shower / change etc / then get into it. I can’t think of a single destination where you can ‘expect’ to arrive stuffed and can’t work.

    Like others, I’m staggered why a ratepayer funded Council would actually spend $10 MILLION a year on travel…. Would they have a similar spend if they were picking up the tab rather than the ratepayers? Cue: Tui advert.

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  29. Alan (1,087 comments) says:

    6 hours flight with business within 12 hours was the policy at my last company.

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  30. mister nui (1,030 comments) says:

    harry, not with the Yellow one at the moment – a smaller Noggie operator right now… Noggies are by far the best to work for in the oil business, IMO.

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  31. notrotsky (85 comments) says:

    I have an alternate suggestion.

    Shoot all of those who voted for this ongoing outrage and hang their rotten corpses outside council chambers to send a message to the rest of them.

    Alternatively they could get on with their bloody jobs looking after the very long suffering ratepayers….

    PS Yes I am incandescent with rage.

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  32. big bruv (14,160 comments) says:

    I have travelled business class a lot in the past two years. I am pretty sure I can work out within an hour who has paid for their seat themselves and who is on a junket paid for by somebody else.

    The “somebody” else comment does not apply to regular business travellers, those people do not treat the prospect of being stuck inside an aluminium tube for eleven hours with any relish at all.

    If you are unfortunate enough to be sitting next to one of these people prepare yourself for a trip of misery, they will often get pissed, constantly call the cabin crew for something else that is free, and, it goes without saying that they will stuff their business class gift pack straight into their carry on luggage just so they can prove they sat up the front of the plane for once.

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  33. mister nui (1,030 comments) says:

    big bruv,

    As a regular (>50 international flights a year) business class traveller, I totally agree that it is easy to spot the mouth-breathers on the large in business class etc. The best place to spot them is actually in the lounge, if you thought politicians were like pigs at a trough, they’ve got nothing on the lounge first-timers.

    You can usually pick the ones that are flying on the taxpayers dime too.

    The waitresses with some first aid training can usually see right through these low-rent scabbers too, and just play them at their own silly game.

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  34. Southern Raider (1,831 comments) says:

    Why can’t they fly premium economy. No one in my company has flown business class since this was introduced and it’s half the price

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  35. Jeff83 (745 comments) says:

    As un-pc as it sounds whether someone should fly business class on the business (be it private or government) should be calculated on the grounds of how much down time that person would have as a result of flying economy, and what the cost of their wages for that period is.

    Clearly the opportunity cost of having your CEO out of action is a lot higher than a minion.

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  36. reubee (24 comments) says:

    For those saying Premium Economy, not all airlines/aircraft offer Premium Economy.

    I work for a company whose policy is economy only and it sucks. I’m effectively being asked to sleep in a room 2m tall, 1m long, and <1m wide, share a toilet with hundreds of strangers, and then you get to the other end where your hotel room isn't ready. Then if its a day flight, good luck getting your laptop out and doing good work with limited battery, a tiny keyboard and no mouse.

    I don't have a problem with the council policy apart from perhaps tweaking or qualifying the 6h limit. It depends how you want to treat the PER-AKL overnight versus PER-AKL during day via SYD/MEL. I recall lamenting my employers policy with a friend who had the 6h policy and how he liked his Darwin trips which just exceeded the 6h limit.

    What the policy does mean is it should take extra justification for a trip to be approved. However I can't see this conversation ever taking place. "Sorry the benefit analysis of your proposed trip to ABC for a conference on XYZ is just less than $0. The only way you can go is if you fly economy"

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  37. pejhay (29 comments) says:

    RUBBISH, Auckland City Councillors should work on innovative ways to reduce their own expenditure of other peoples money, before even considering ANY sort of premium/luxury for themselves.

    In context, I probably take home more money than most Auckland Councillors, I have never flown better than economy, that’s my decision, if these troughers want that privilege, let them pay the extra cost themselves !

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  38. pejhay (29 comments) says:

    Perhaps there should be disclosure of Salary and Perk expectation recorded as part of the election profile for public office candidates – that might open some eyes…

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  39. RRM (10,026 comments) says:

    Well I must say I’m loving the utter snobbery exhibited by some of the regular business class fliers on here! :-P

    We flew (economy!) Wlg to Chch in May for my brother’s wedding. On the return flight little 2yo RRM junior was not happy, and he screamed and cried the whole time. No amount of cuddles, or conversation, or food or drink could comfort him. He hated it and he wanted the whole world to know. I wanted to sink into the floor.

    My fellow economy class passengers were AMAZING.

    The two black-suited businesswomen in front of us, who said how beautiful he was and held his hand through the gaps in the seat backs.

    The three 20-something guys across the aisle who made eye contact with him and played peek-a-boo games to divert his attention.

    The woman alongside us who gave up reading her paper to have a fun conversation of her own with him.

    The elderly lady who grabbed him and brought him back down the aisle to me, when he escaped and ran for the door while I was buckling his sister in with his mum.

    The crew who bent over backwards offering special food alternatives, and the like.

    Not one dirty look. Not one single comment about useless parents who can’t control their kids. Not one complaint about the noise. Just me, and my crying little boy and a hundred and fifty SAINTLY fellow economy class travellers. I have never felt more grateful to my fellow man for anything.

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