Education

UCLA Officials Use Medical Claims to Get Upgrades to First Class on Flights

And the college system pays for it

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Thirteen years ago, the University of California changed its ban on flying business or first class on the university's dime, adding a special exception for employees with a medical need.

What followed at UCLA was an acute outbreak of medical need.

Over the past several years, six of 17 academic deans at the Westwood campus routinely have submitted doctors' notes stating they have a medical need to fly in a class other than economy, costing the university $234,000 more than it would have for coach-class flights, expense records show.

One of these deans, Judy Olian of the Anderson School of Management, has at least twice tackled the arduous 56-mile cycling leg of the long course relay at Monterey County's Wildflower Triathlon, according to her expense records and race results. She described herself in a 2011 Los Angeles Times profile as a "cardio junkie."