Any peanuts with that beverage, Senator?
June 15, 2006 1:39 PM   Subscribe

How do U.S. Senators travel? I know the President uses Air Force One, and I imagine Congresspersons fly on commercial airlines, but it is hard for me to picture a U.S. Senator flying commercially. At the same time, chartering flights seems awfully expensive.
posted by bullitt 5 to Law & Government (29 answers total)
From what I gather, cost is no matter to our US Senators and Representatives, after all, it is we who pay them to ride in style.
posted by CXImran at 1:41 PM on June 15, 2006

Kennedy flies commercial. There was a news blurb some months back about the TSA blocking him, due to his being on the No-fly list.
posted by daksya at 1:42 PM on June 15, 2006

I've flown commercial with at least 3 US senators, two in coach with the rest of us. I'll not disgrace them by naming names.
posted by piro at 1:43 PM on June 15, 2006

They get corporations to sponsor private jets.
posted by puke & cry at 1:47 PM on June 15, 2006

They fly commercial most of the time. Before Jack Abramoff got sent up the river, they took private jets paid for by lobbyists and their clients. I suspect that happens a lot less now.

IIRC, Joe Biden takes the commuter train to DC from Delaware every morning.
posted by JekPorkins at 1:50 PM on June 15, 2006

I used to work for a senator. All senators that I know of fly commercial and most of them fly coach.
posted by Inkoate at 1:52 PM on June 15, 2006

A little off-topic, but yes, Biden does take the commuter train. There was a great article on him in GQ the other month that detailed this fact.
posted by galimatias at 1:53 PM on June 15, 2006

The crooked ones fly on private jets, but pay first class prices to do so.
posted by ND¢ at 1:54 PM on June 15, 2006

I've seen one in the Midwest standing with the rest of the proles on a Southwest flight.
posted by geoff. at 1:55 PM on June 15, 2006

I used to see Jacob Javits flying on the Eastern Shuttle between NY and DC in the 1970s all the time.
posted by Fupped Duck at 2:01 PM on June 15, 2006

I was on a commercial plane with a (very recently) ex Secretary of State. They were allowed to exit first however.
posted by Suparnova at 2:01 PM on June 15, 2006

Rick Santorum has used chartered flights before (I was in the car when we drove to the local airport). I think it depends upon their urgency (if they have a vote to goto, a speaking engagement, whatever). To travel within regions they often just use their aids' cars (obviously they get reimbursed later).
posted by SeizeTheDay at 2:02 PM on June 15, 2006

Best answer: NPR had a report related to this subject.
posted by sexymofo at 2:04 PM on June 15, 2006

Best answer: Politicians are frequent fliers on corporate jets -- Use of private aircraft routine for members of Congress, NBC News finds.
posted by ericb at 2:16 PM on June 15, 2006

Kennedy flies commercial. There was a news blurb some months back about the TSA blocking him, due to his being on the No-fly list.

I have been on two flights (from Boston to D.C.) on which he has flown.
posted by ericb at 2:17 PM on June 15, 2006

GF flew from New York to Burlington, VT with Pat Leahy on JetBlue. He got the extra screening, including taking off his shoes. He was incredibly nice and graceful about it.
posted by xetere at 2:21 PM on June 15, 2006

In related news --

Cabinet Official is Primary User of CDC Jet
"A luxury private jet leased by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for use in emergencies has been used instead primarily to shuttle Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt to dozens of news conferences and meetings, a Journal-Constitution analysis of the aircraft's flight log shows.

...During two of the CDC's emergencies, Leavitt was traveling on the Gulfstream III jet, requiring the agency to use another plane."

[The Atlanta Journal Constitution | June 14, 2006]
posted by ericb at 2:22 PM on June 15, 2006

I was once behind John McCain in the security line at the Phoenix airport...he took off his shoes and the whole bit. Have to admit, I was a little surprised to see him waiting in line with the rest of us.
posted by eileen at 2:25 PM on June 15, 2006

Top number of flights taken on corporate jets over the last 5 years:
(1) Sen. Trent Lott = 114 flights
(2) Rep. Roy Blunt = 104 flights
(3) Rep. Oxley = 94 flights
(4) Rep. Tom DeLay = 65 flights
(5) Sen. George Allen = 39 flights
(6) Sen. Harry Reid = 37 flights
(7) Sen. Bill Frist = 34 flights
posted by ericb at 2:29 PM on June 15, 2006

on the off chance anyone else was curious, like I was, here's this:
1 (R)
2 (R)
3 (R)
4 (R)
5 (R)
6 (D)
7 (R)

this is not meant to incite a derail. thanks.

posted by fishfucker at 2:49 PM on June 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

Not to derail, but I'm curious what the numbers were in the last 5 years that the Dems controlled the Senate. I suspect it has something to do with who's in power.
posted by JekPorkins at 2:50 PM on June 15, 2006

there's a note in ericb's link I should've also copied:
Why are more Republicans using private jets? One reason may be that they have controlled Congress for 12 years. If Democrats had controlled Congress, I suspect we would see much higher numbers for many key Democrats than we found this time. Also, some Democrats who heavily used corporate jets--such as Sen. John Edwards--are no longer in Congress.

posted by fishfucker at 3:06 PM on June 15, 2006

My wife, when she was about 23 years old (~15 years ago) , sat next to Strom Thurmond on a commerical flight from DC to Charlotte, NC. She has never been that interested in politics, so she was taken aback when I asked if he grabbed her ass.
posted by stupidcomputernickname at 3:07 PM on June 15, 2006

Campaiging, they often fly in small jets (not many commercial flights flying to various locations within a state). That's how Paul Wellstone died.

As a window into politicians' traveling, in 2002, after the crash, the Los Angeles Times ran a story (in the Nov. 5 editions, available on nexis) about campaigning politicians being jittery about flying on small planes since the crash:

And it's been the death of several in the last 10 years, among them Mel Carnahan, governor of Missouri; South Dakota Gov. George Mickelson; and Pennsylvania Sen. John Heinz. Although no one is eager to talk about the most recent casualty, it has raised the anxiety level among Kirk's entourage.
posted by Airhen at 3:07 PM on June 15, 2006

There was a story about Barack Obama, shortly after he was elected, being offered an upgrade to first class on a flight and refusing, saying he was fine where he was and was talking to his seatmates.
posted by SisterHavana at 3:17 PM on June 15, 2006

I once was across the aisle from Dorgan on a flight into Bismarck.
posted by nathan_teske at 4:00 PM on June 15, 2006

I sat near Senator Paul Simon ("that's why I wear . . . the bow tie") in coach on a TWA flight years ago.

I was under the impression that lots of Senators and Reps basically have to fly coach because the bad publicity/word-of-mouth that would follow if someone saw them in first class.

Which is a joke, really, when any 25-year-old sales drone can upgrade himself to first for nearly nothing.
posted by Mid at 4:50 PM on June 15, 2006

Sen. Ben Nelson flies commercial and does so frequently judging by the fact that every time (of the few times I've flown from Omaha) I've seen him at the airport. Either that or he just likes hanging around in airports, which would explain something about the man actually.
posted by Fezboy! at 7:00 AM on June 16, 2006

I think the reimbursement is for full coach fare plus 25%, right? (it's been a while since I dated someone who worked for a senator) anyway, go to teteboro or santa monica airports. you will see a lot of senators coming out of private aircraft.

a lot of companies and private individuals (and lobbies, whatever you want to call them) will offer private jets on a case-by-case basis. you are doing research on some legislation and someone with a stake will be glad to show you their side of the coin. there was a cbs news item on this around the time of the abramoff scandal. I wonder if it's frowned upon now.

there used to be a lot coming in and out at the gov terminal at LGA. I am not sure if there is a 'you can use the gov jets when we don't' policy in place but I have seen ted kennedy more than once there.

I think an excellent place to ask this question would be the forum on
posted by krautland at 3:49 PM on August 19, 2006

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