Looking forward to the future of journalism

Southwest Airlines ticket scandal: Find out which public officials bought tickets

Southwest Airlines Plane

Express-News Reporter Guillermo Contreras has been covering an unusual scandal at the Bexar County courthouse: Thousands of stolen airline tickets were sold at a discount to county employees — including judges and other public officials:

What happens in Las Vegas may stay in Vegas, but how you got there apparently doesn’t — at least not at the Bexar County Courthouse.

Between 2002 and 2005, courthouse regulars took trips to Sin City and to several other cities that Southwest Airlines flies.

As people around the courthouse heard how little was paid for airfare — $120 per roundtrip ticket — demand spread like wildfire, according to testimony in the federal trial dealing with 5,600 tickets stolen from Southwest by one of its former employees, Althea Jackson.

Soon, more people were going to a pair of courthouse sources for tickets: then-sheriff’s Deputy Mark Kedrowski, who ran a travel agency on the side, and the main ticket provider, Jackson’s husband, ex-Bailiff James Jackson.

One cool thing about Guillermo’s coverage is a database he obtained of the ticket sales, which the Express-News posted online. It gives you an idea of the sheer scale of this ticket-selling operation. You can also look up the public officials who bought tickets. For example, you can see that District Attorney Susan Reed went on three trips with a market value of about $570 apiece. The database shows the exact date of the trips and the destinations.

This is definitely one of the more unique databases I’ve ever seen.