In my entire career, I’ve never booked business class travel — ever. So I’ll freely admit that Energizer Battery Company’s travel rebate program, which incents employees to book coach over business class when traveling, is completely foreign to me. 

The program (originally detailed in the New York Times last month) encourages employees to book business trips in coach by paying them in cash half the savings between the business class airfare and the economy cost — which as you know, can add up to decent amount of cash.

My first thought was, “Hey, what a smart way to get people to buy cheaper airfare!”

My second thought was, “Wait a minute. Aren’t companies looking to scrape up every extra penny? Why not just prohibit business class travel?”

Although Energizer started the coach-class bribery (ahem, incentives) before the recession started, I found it curious that such a program is so novel. I know employees at certain levels of responsibility and seniority enjoy travel accommodations in business class. I get that, and in fatter economic times I’d say no harm no foul.

But when you’re laying people off and cutting back on benefits, shouldn’t you at least consider asking the execs to rough it in coach — cramped space, crying babies and all — like the rest of us? Just sayin’.

Does your company allow execs and other higher-ups to travel in business class? Did that policy change at all when the recession hit?

What do you think of Energizer’s incentive program? According to the Times piece, some 60% of international flights were booked in coach due to the program — definitely a significant savings. Would you rather incent employees to book coach, or just prohibit booking in business class?

As always, sound off in the comments.

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