Bill would make all feds fly coach

A bipartisan piece of legislation has been introduced that would ban all federal employees from flying first-class or business-class while traveling for work.

The Fly Smart Act would make all federal executive branch employees fly coach, including cabinet secretaries and other high-ranking public officials, unless under “exceptional circumstances,” for both domestic and international flights.

“Government workers shouldn’t fly first class on the public’s dime,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), who introduced the bill with Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley (D). “Sometimes you have to create common sense through legislation,” he added.

An exceptional circumstance would be if no other flight was available, for example. But all exceptions must be approved by a waiver that is publicly filed no later than 90 days following the travel, and blanket waivers will not be permitted.

The pair noted media reports of high-ranking officials’ excessive travel expenses, such as former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who racked up more than $124,000 in first-class flights.

Based on such reports, Merkley said, "...it’s clear that Congress needs to act to make sure that not another dollar of taxpayer money is spent on luxury flights."

“This bill will put an end to this frivolous practice and save taxpayer money,” Kennedy added.

View a summary of the bill here.

Reader comments

Sun, Jul 21, 2019

The legislation is ambiguous. Since the text states travelers must “use” coach, it is unclear if airline or personal purchase upgrades shall be permitted.

Wed, Jul 17, 2019

If you really need to fly first class, purchase coach tickets with government money, then pay for upgrade using your personal money.

Fri, Jun 21, 2019 Lee NC

Great idea...so long as it applies to all Congessional members and staff. Oh yeah, and no more private junkets with liquor aboard. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

Thu, Jun 20, 2019

Airline seats are so small these days, Men & women's body frames vary and may not, be able to fit in coach seats. I guess, they will not be flying to their destinations. To create a waiver, 90 days prior to their travel is ridiculous & embarrassing for individuals. A waiver should never take that long for an approval.

Fri, Jun 14, 2019 Big Dave

Certainly this will apply to all federal employees including the WH staff, right? No? The elite won't still book private flights for luxury golf resorts at the taxpayers expense? Yeah? So this only applies to those that are banned from doing so already? Yup.

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