The Secret Lives Of Congressional Air Travelers

We here at Gadling have been closely following how furloughs have affected air traffic controllers, and subsequently how backed up airports got when flight delays started cascading across the country. But we were also surprised when Congress voted to reverse these cuts – and like many others who loudly voiced their opinions online, we wondered who, exactly, is benefiting from the decision.

It seems Bloomberg Businessweek has found the answer, claiming lawmakers aren’t pampering wealthy business travelers, but instead catering to their own needs. “There is no more pampered class of air traveler than members of Congress,” the news outlet writes, detailing how our representatives have their own special parking spaces at Washington’s Reagan National Airport. This “freebie” ends up costing the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority nearly $739K in foregone revenue each year.

Of course, that’s not the only perk lawmakers get at the airport. Businessweek is reporting they also never have to worry about rushing to catch a shuttle out of town because airlines allow them to simultaneously book multiple flights in the event the lawmaker is late or a flight gets canceled. This means they can get booked on the 6, 7, 8 and 9 p.m. flights without having to incur the fees the rest of us would for the luxury.

Many lawmakers fly frequently, and it’s not just back and forth from Washington to their districts. In some cases, they’ve been known to jet set around the world at taxpayer expense, as is the case with Democratic Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, who racked up $23,646 on an around-the-world trip in February. So although we’re happy things are less congested at airports, we’re wondering if the rush to get things squared away was necessary – or if lawmakers just wanted to make sure they got home at a good hour.

[Photo credit: Flickr user ​Telstar Logistics]