Flying with Icarus
A Rosh Hashanah parable about integrity and judgment
On the surface, what follows is a classic story of excess, indulgence, and entitlement.
In 1987, Steven Rothstein plunked down $250,000 for an AAirpass — a VIP membership that gave him unlimited first-class air travel on American Airlines. Two years later, he forked over another $150,000 for a companion pass.
Mr. Rothstein had always loved to fly. Now his predilection grew into a hobby and, eventually, into a lifestyle. In the month of July 2008, for example, he flew 18 times to destinations across the country and Europe. When flying alone, he booked a companion ticket so he could have an empty seat beside him.
In November of the same year, he handed his boarding pass to the gate agent at Chicago O’Hare one day as he prepared to board his flight to London. The agent handed him back a letter informing him that American had revoked his pass for fraudulent use. His free flying days were permanently grounded.
If you’re like me, you probably feel little sympathy for Steven Rothstein. But an article published by his daughter in this week’s Guardian shines a light on the other side of the story.