A Top Exec Gets His Kicks Kicking Passengers

Sam Pizzigati Editor, Too Much online magazine

Free-marketeers have been trying to strangle Amtrak, America’s quasi-public passenger railroad, for years now, and the Trump White House has tightened the chokehold, partly by pushing changes that make Amtrak’s food service ever less appealing. The latest victims? Passengers on long hauls who can’t afford Amtrak’s premium tickets. Among other changes, these ordinary passengers can no longer sit in the railroad’s dining cars and buy cooked-to-order meals. Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson, meanwhile, is sugarcoating the railroad’s new economic segregation, describing the widely disliked squeezes as “enhanced services.” No one should be surprised. In his previous life, as the CEO at Delta, Anderson helped turn his airline into a high-profit Wall Street darling by putting the squeeze on frequent fliers. Delta’s SkyMiles program became, as one travel journalist put it, “offensively, aggressively awful,” with good seats for popular destinations more than doubling in mileage price. Anderson himself retired from Delta in 2016. On the way out the door, he collected $72 million in Delta stock awards.

***

Sam Pizzigati edits Too Much, the online weekly on excess and inequality. He is an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. Last year, he played an active role on the team that generated The Nation magazine special issue on extreme inequality. That issue recently won the 2009 Hillman Prize for magazine journalism. Pizzigati’s latest book, Greed and Good: Understanding and Overcoming the Inequality that Limits Our Lives (Apex Press, 2004), won an “outstanding title” of the year ranking from the American Library Association’s Choice book review journal.

Posted In: Union Matters

Stronger Together

Stronger Together