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Mr. Hays. Mr. Grayson, you appear before this committee in response to a subpena duces tecum. Your testimony will be in executive session unless you request that it be in public session. If your appearance is in executive session, the public or press will not be admitted to the hearing room pursuant to paragraph 26, House of Representatives rule 11. Your testimony may not be released or used in public session without the consent of this committee. Of course, if your appearance is in public session, you understand, the press could come in. Do you choose which way would you like it?
The WITNESS. Executive session. Mr. Hays. You have counsel with you and we have already included his name in the record.
By Mr. O'CONNOR:
Where do you office?
Q. Eastern Airlines has the credit card account for the House of Representatives in connection with air travel, do they not?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Most of the travel booked, air travel booked by Representatives and members of the staff is on Eastern Airlines credit cards?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. A question has come up in connection with the hearings that the committee is conducting as to the distinction between a "Q" card and a card issued to an individual's name. Could you explain that difference?
A. The “Q” card permits the card holder to purchase transportation for anyone. The personal card permits him to charge transportation just for his own individual personal travel.
Q. On the “Q” card, can as many as 20 airline tickets be purchased at once for various individuals?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. What requirement of the airline is there as to the identity of the persons that are going to be traveling on those tickets?
A. None, sir.
Q. Can the purchaser supply the issuing agent with any name of a traveler?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. It is not necessary that the person in whose name that ticket is issued actually perform the travel?
A. The ticket is not transferrable.
Q. I understand it is not transferrable, but does the airline have any control as to whether the traveler indicated as John Smith is actually John Smith?
A. No, sir.
Q. You have indicated it is not transferrable. Does Eastern have any control as to whether traveler A purchases two tickets for he and traveler B, and then rather than traveler B perform the travel, traveler A would sell the ticket to some third party and receive the cash? The WITNESS. It is possible, yes, sir. Mr. DICKINSON. Does it happen every once in a while that this comes up? For instance, we just had a witness this morning who said that he was given a ticket, he flew to San Juan and back and he said he didn't have enough money to go and that was the reason the ticket was furnished to him, and he assumed that he used the same ticket he was furnished for his return. We have the ticket down but we don't have the ticket back. So far as we know, it was never used. But he thinks he used it. Is this very unusual with your company, that he did use the ticket and we can't find a record of it?
A. We have no control over that.
Q. Can you explain to us how the Eastern Air Lines services this account as far as travel on carriers other than Eastern are concerned?
A. The procedure for purchasing tickets permits the individual cardholder to present the card to any ticket counter of a carrier who honors air travel cards. The honoring carrier then will issue tickets against a transportation receipt which is signed by the cardholder which authorizes the carrier to issue the ticket which the customer is asking for.
Q. Could you tell the committee how quickly after a ticket is issued on a credit card the particular account here on the Hill would be billed?
A. It will run approximately 45 days.
Q. In other words, if a ticket is purchased September 1 with one of your credit cards, the billing could be expected about October 15?
A. That is right.
Q. Would that hold true if the carrier was other than Eastern? Say, for instance, Northeast, or TWA?
A. Generally speaking, yes, sir.
Q. When a person has utilized a travel card that is assigned to one of the committees of Congress and he uses it on personal business and subsequently refunds to that committee the value of the transportation or the value of the ticket; how is that refund handled?
A. Well, the procedure for the account to pay the bill is for the account to remit to our bank. The remittance may include one check or it may include several checks. The bank deposits those checkscheck or checks—and credits our account and identifies on the remittance slip which is a part of the statement the total amount of the deposits made by our customer in the bank.
Q. Is that remittance made directly to Eastern or would it-on the assumption a committee member traveled on personal business, but he used this credit card, 45 days later that billing would come into the committee?
Q. At that time the user would write his check for the value of the transportation. Would that check be written to Eastern, or would it be written to the committee?
A. It has happened both ways.
Q. Do you have any regulations as to which way is preferable or which way it should be?
A. We ask them to make the remittance to the bank deposit box. The post office drop box, which is actually our bank address box.
Mr. Hays. Do you have any regulation as to whom the check is made out? It isn't made out to a bank. The WITNESS. To Eastern Airlines.
By Mr. O'CONNOR:
Q. When that check is drawn to Eastern Airlines, that amount would be deducted from the amount of your billing?
A. That is right.
By Mr. O'CONNOR:
Can you tell us whether that ticket was purchased by travel credit card or whether it was paid for in cash or otherwise?
A. It appears it was purchased against an air travel card.
Q. So from your examination of that receipt there, it would indicate that the travel Miami to Washington was acquired through an air travel card?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Can you tell from that ticket, what we have there, the particular air travel card that was involved?
A. No, sir.
Q. Now, from your records, can you tell whether Northeast has billed your account for this travel?
A. If they have, we can tell you.
Q. Do you have that record with you? Could we show you the committee record ?
Mr. O'CONNOR. Are your records adequate for him to determine? Mr. GRAY. No, I think we will have to go to his record.
By Mr. O'CONNOR: Q. I will ask you to examine your records and submit a memorandum to us as to the billing on this particular ticket. Any details on it you can obtain from Mr. Gray here.
A. Very well.
Q. On American Airlines ticket 1/321/416/220, which is a part of Givens exhibit 2, there appears the note "ATP refund." Can you tell us what that item is?
A. This coupon is apparently submitted for refund credit to the account by American Airlines. American Airlines came into possession of this coupon from the ticketholder, apparently, with a request to refund the ticket. The ticket was refunded by credit to the air travel account.
Q. would that refund be the face amount of that ticket or the portion that was not used ?
A. Just the portion that was not used.
Q. Do you happen to know the value of the portion, Miami to New York?
A. Yes, sir; this is the correct amount.
Mr. O'CONNOR. I have no further questions of this witness.
Mr. Hays. Mr. Grayson, is it or is it not possible for somebody to turn in a ticket or a portion of a ticket which was bought on a credit card and receive cash from the airlines?
The WITNESS. Under certain conditions, yes, sir. Mr. Hays. That was an unexpected answer. I didn't know you could do that. Will you tell us the conditions?
The WITNESS. Under conditions over which the passenger has no control. The carriers are permitted to give them cash for the tickets so they can continue their journey by other means of transportation. For example, if the flight is canceled and there are no airlines operating so that he can't use his air travel card, for example, to buy a ticket, and he needs to buy a railroad ticket or bus or what-haveyou, then we will refund in cash. Mr. HAYS. And that would be noted on your records? The WITNESS. This is known as an involuntary refund. Mr. Hays. You wouldn't make those except if there were no airline flights available and you had to go over to some other means of transportation?
The WITNESS. Yes.
Mr. Hays. If a man walked into an airline ticket counter, yours or anybody else's, just walked in off of the street and said, “I have a ticket here I would like to get a refund on," and it was bought on an ATP card, you wouldn't refund it?
The WITNESS. No, sir. Mr. Hays. It is against your rules and the rules of all other arilines? The WITNESS. Yes, sir. Mr. Hays. So, only in the case of exceptional circumstances—I will repeat this to make sure we have it clear in the record-only in exceptional circumstances where the passenger is grounded and no other airline transportation is available and it would be a hardship, you then give him cash to purchase other transportation? The WITNESS. That is right.
By Mr. O'CONNOR: Q. Are there exceptions to that sometimes and maybe the local offices slip up on it?
A. That has been known to happen.
Q. Particularly if a prominent individual insisted upon receiving the cash?
A. It could happen; yes, sir.
Mr. Hays. But your records would show that, that it was either refunded for cash or credit?
The WITNESS. Yes. Mr. DICKINSON. We have had a number of tickets that have been purchased by the committee and either half of them used or maybe they weren't used at all and there is just no record of them ever being used. Is this unusual as far as your records are concerned? Are there many tickets lost by you or is it possible that they could have been used and your records would not show this?
The WITNESS. The records we were required to investigate are extensive and the time element that we were given to investigate these records was rather short. Now we did the best job we could. We put 8 or 10 people on this for 2 days, worked them overtime to try to get as much of this investigation completed as we could. In the time limits we had, we submitted the records as we had them at that time.
Mr. DICKINSON. We meant no criticism of you or the record furnished. We really just want to know if this is likely or possible. Do we have a bunch of tickets out that people have just lost? I think there is some $4,000 unaccounted for, is that right?
Mr. O'CONNOR. Close to it.
The WITNESS. The tickets are often issued over one carrier in the box indicated on the ticket "via" a carrier; Eastern, for example. This could be used by Pan American, Trans-Caribbean, to be used by any other carrier.
Mr. DICKINSON. We suspect that was the case this morning with this particular witness. He felt this might be so.
The WITNESS. We attempted to look at the billings of these coupons honored by other carriers to us, billings to us. Some carriers give us easily referenced records; some do not.
In the investigation it is purely manual when we don't have a complete numbered ticket system furnished by the carrier. So the investigation is quite detailed and thorough. It is possible that further investigation might develop more additional records.
Mr. Hays. Mr. Grayson, this question is in no way critical, but do you have any significant number of tickets which people buy and use a half and just either lose the other half or forget about it or don't turn it in? Do you have a significant windfall that way?
The WITNESS. Percentagewise it is a very small number. Mr. Hays. But it does happen? The WITNESS. Oh, yes. Mr. Hays. This is just for the record. If you would buy a ticket and find that a year or 2 years later a half of it has been unused, you can always turn it in for credit against the account for which it was bought?
The WITNESS. Yes, sir. The tickets are normally valid for 1 year.
Mr. Hays. Suppose you have a ticket that wasn't used in the 1 year, you could turn in the half for a refund?
The WITNESS. We would make it; yes, sir.