This afternoon, a memo went out from New York Times Magazine head Gerald Marzorati. It seems that staffers and freelancers have been flying business and first class while on assignment. Clearly this cannot stand! Although, why not? The magazine and those money-minters T, Play, and Key are raking it in for the business. (Seriously. The issue of T: Women coming out this Sunday is the biggest issue of a Times magazine since 1984. 183.3 pages of ads! Surely that can pay for a flight or two to Milan!) No matter! They have to find some way to pay those juicy word count rates. Approval to fly business class will only be granted after being run past Times Managing Editor John Geddes or Assistant Managing Editor Bill Schmidt. Got that? The full memo follows.
Greetings all, I am writing to remind everyone of our policies regarding air travel. We do not — and I do not — travel business class or first class on the company's dime. There have been a few recent violations and News Administration is not happy. Neither am I.
We can all be spared some headaches if we follow the following steps, which apply to EVERYONE — staffers as well as freelance writers and photographers.
First and foremost, coach is the way to go. If Dexter Filkins can fly to Baghdad in coach, we can get to Milan that way too — at least if the Times is paying. If an assigning editor does feel a trip warrants business-class travel, it must — MUST — be discussed with me. If I agree that the expense is necessary, I will ask approval for it from John Geddes or Bill Schmidt.
The flights that meet the criteria below should continue to be run past the managing editors of the appropriate magazine:
Approval is required for:
— International flights
— Tickets more than $1,000 per person
— Bookings using mileage points, because this usually requires the purchase of a full coach fare
Also: everyone gravitates toward World Connections, but we've recently found examples where American Express cost less. When you're looking for airfares, make sure you also check with AMEX.
When you submit a flight for approval, you must include the dates of trip, the issue the assignment is for, a price quote and, if it is a non-AMEX flight, what AMEX would charge.