“Frequent-Dier Miles”

I read the most peculiar article by Anne Marie Chaker in today’s Wall Street Journal. Instead of spending money with your credit card to earn flight miles, why not just ship a few dead bodies and get a free flight?

“On JetBlue Airways, about 15 shipments of bodies earns a funeral director a free round trip ticket…On US Airways, funeral directors earn a point each time they ship or receive a body. 30 points equals a free round trip ticket…The Daytona Beach International Airport rewards funeral directors with 500 frequent-flier miles on Delta Air Lines for each body shipped out.” Imagine that…you don’t even have to get on a plane and you can earn sky miles.

“Airlines have always made their money by putting bodies in the seats. Increasingly, they’re also turning a dollar by putting dead bodies in cargo, as carriers pursue the funeral-home and mortuary busniess…The yield on transporting human remains–I want to be sensitive when I say this–is definately worth our while,” says Dale Anderson, director of mail and cargo for JetBlue. “I have to move close to 1,000 pounds of general cargo to equal the revenue of one human remain.”

While the flights are payed for by the family of the deceased, funeral directors are encouraged to charge the flights to their credit cards to earn miles. “The most coveted airline perks are what some in the industry refer to as ‘frequent-dier programs’.” But here’s the catch. The families that recently experienced a loss, may be cheated into paying for a more expensive airline for the shipment of their loved ones, just so that the funeral director can earn sky miles. Something about this system seems like it may need a little revision, but hey…there’s something to be said for reaping the benefits of your latest client’s travel.