When U.S. domestic automakers were commuting back and forth between Detroit and Washington while begging for government funds in the fall of 2008, a big deal was made of the fact that their CEOs were traveling in private jets instead of driving company vehicles. The backlash from JetGate was substantial, as each automaker quickly ended the use of expensive airfare for corporate travel and signed on with less pricey charter services. But while the private jet became taboo for auto executives, other industrial magnates kept their jets, including former AT&T CEO and current General Motors top boss Ed Whitacre, Jr.

In fact, The Detroit News reports that Big Ed's retirement package from AT&T includes 10 monthly hours of access to a private plane. The pricey perk reportedly costs the telecommunications giant about $20,000 per month and Whitacre can use the jet for for whatever he wants. A spokesperson for GM says he doesn't use the jet for GM business, which makes sense given the fact that 10 hours only allows for about two round trips to Whitacre's San Antonio, Texas home. Whitacre's use of an AT&T jet may actually help GM a bit given the fact that many automakers pay for CEO travel to and from their out-of-state homes. In 2008, for example, Ford reportedly paid a whopping $344,109 for CEO Alan Mulally's non work-related travel expenses.

Lifetime use of a private jet is a pretty cool perk, but it's not Whitacre's only big ticket retirement item, either. He reportedly also gets $26,000 per year for a new car as well. We're thinking Whitacre also has access to any vehicle in the GM portfolio, so chances are that perk isn't being fully utilized right now. Unless, of course, Big Ed is actually paying for his GM vehicles. And why not? It's not like the new car is coming out of his pockets.

[Source: The Detroit News | Source Image: Bill Pugliano/Getty]