Riddle of the day: When three auto industry executives came to Washington on Tuesday, in order to make the case for a multi-billion-dollar taxpayer-backed rescue, did they fly coach or first class?
Ha! It's a trick question. They did neither. Instead, they took private jets. Three separate private jets.
While [GM executive Rick] Wagoner testified, his G4 private jet was parked at Dulles airport. It is one of eight luxury jets in the GM fleet that continues to ferry executives around the world despite the company's dire financial straits.
Wagoner's private jet trip to Washington cost his ailing company an estimated $20,000 roundtrip. In comparison, seats on Northwest Airlines flight 2364 from Detroit to Washington were going online for $288 coach and $837 first class.
After the hearing, Wagoner declined to answer questions about his travel.
Having taken that Detroit-to-Washington flight countless times, I can tell you that it's an easy, convenient trip. It's usually on time; barring weather probles, flight time is usually about an hour. They still serve peanuts and free non-alcoholic beverages in coach. And, if you're clever enough to print out your boarding pass beforehand, you can usually get an aisle seat. Maybe even a bulkhead or exit row. (Surely Mr. Wagoner and his counterparts have people who do those sorts of things for them.)
Sigh. The case for rescuing the auto industry still seems compeling to me. But so does the case for clearing out management.