Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has a new justification for flying first class: the “toxic” political environment…
After reading all the comments in my recent commentary on first class travel for government officials, I can almost understand his point. Almost.
Pruitt was in New Hampshire earlier this week for a meeting and was asked by the New Hampshire Union Leader if he flew first class up to the meeting. That’s a 1hr, 25min flight.
Of course he did.
Unfortunately, … we’ve had some incidents on travel dating back to when I first started serving in the March-April timeframe. We live in a very toxic environment politically, particularly around issues of the environment…We’ve reached the point where there’s not much civility in the marketplace and it’s created, you know, it’s created some issues and the [security] detail, the level of protection is determined by the level of threat.
Pruitt now has a blanket waiver to travel in business or first class according to an EPA spokesman.
But I believe taxpayers are entitled to know the nature of those threats. What “issues” have been created that force him to sit in first class, surrounded by his security detail versus sitting in economy class, also surrounded by his security detail? Because humans are prone to exaggerate…
I understand the argument that this is focusing on a needle in the haystack of government waste, but I nevertheless find it absurd that any government official would purchase astronomical first class tickets or charter private jets for such short flights.
For everyone saying he deserves first class just like a corporate executive, ask yourself why government spending guidelines say otherwise. Also whether you really consider your tax dollars in the same way a corporation spends private money. I believe this is more than dollars: this represents a violation of trust.
Pruitt Flies Emirates Business Class
Lest you think that I am unfairly targeting Pruitt, I’ll take a moment to defend him for flying Emirates.
CBS News produced a hit-piece on Pruitt concerning his trip to the Vatican last summer. He ended up flying Emirates from Milan to New York, receiving a special waiver to skirt the Fly America Act.
The EPA justified the Emirates flight on the basis that it was the only flight that would get him back to Washington in time to make a cabinet meeting.
And that may actually be true. Pruitt had a morning meeting in Bologna and wanted to return to Washington, DC same-day.
There are no nonstop flights from Milan to Washington. Look at the Milan to New York flight schedule:
You can see the Emirates flight leaves at 4:10p, three hours after the next closest departure. Thus, it is conceivable that Emirates was the only flight that worked.
I’m not even sure why he required a Fly America Act waiver had he booked it under a JetBlue codeshare–
So all the innuendo about Pruitt flying Emirates because it offered a far more luxurious business class is not all that convincing to me.
I still do not think Pruitt’s domestic first class travel is justified. In fact, I think it is unethical since the EPA has failed to explain the risk that Pruitt faces, surrounded by a security detail that costs far more than the flights. But I’m not going to fault him for flying Emirates. I’d do the same thing if I had a morning meeting and needed to get home.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The head of the Environmental Protection Agency has broken months of silence about his frequent premium-class flights at taxpayer expense, saying he needs to fly first class because of unpleasant interactions with other travelers.
— David Eggert (@DavidEggert00) February 14, 2018
maybe he should follow bloggers like you and he could hack the system and travel for free and get paid to blog ! Now that’s an idea.
Maybe he should hire me to book his travel…
In Deep Coach / Economy / Irk-onomy, no doubt? 🙂
you failed to mention all the money he has saved taxpayers and all of the economic benefits to ordinary citizens who now have better opportunities thanks to the unnecessary regulations he is removing all while sensibly caring for the environment . if you wanted to write a serious piece you would account for that – but hey you’re a travel blogger!
You’re welcome to bring that up here. I’m just sticking to the travel part. And even if he does a ton of good, how does that justify wasteful travel?
It’s not wasteful if a cabinet level officer gets work done. Also, many government employees fly non-US airlines on a code share.
I think this smacks of “it didn’t bother me when my side was in power, now it’s a problem”.
Blah blah blah, toxic, blah blah blah security, blah blah blah EPA. Whatever, This guy is so full of crap. Just another self-centered public servant with an oversized opinion of himself. He works for the EPA. 99 out 100 people would have no idea who is.
Republicans are hypocrites. They make it so easy to hate them. Wait liberals are no better. They conveniently want selective law enforcement.
So easy to hate both off them. Hypocrites everywhere.
Following my comments yesterday I do feel that *if* there is a reason for traveling first class, which they say there is, they should be transparent about it. They’re not, which is making me suspicious as to whether it is actually necessary. I mean, why take all this bad publicity if you can explain your reasons for having to fly first class?
“CBS News has learned that when Pruitt returned home from Milan on June 11, he flew on Emirates Airlines, whose business class cabins are some of the world’s most luxurious, complete with an onboard lounge that promises what the airline calls a “truly unique journey.””
This source identifies the metal, but does not purport to identify whether it was a B^ codeshare. Rather it states, inaccurately:
“To take the flight, Pruitt needed special dispensation. Government officials are bound by the Fly America Act, which requires them to “use U.S. air carrier service for all air travel… funded by the U.S. government.””
To the contrary, it identifies no waiver of the Fly America Act. Rather, it presumes, without verifying, that one was sought. Per chance did they not know there was a Jet Blue code share?
I rather government officials at top tiers get compensated at competitive levels rather than kow-towing to regulatory capture as a post-career gig. Granted, private sector compensation at the top tiers can be excessive, but it sure is better to have “our guy” working only for us, and not for the folks who determine his next gig.
No high level politician (left or right) can escape the fact that their compensation is on par with even mid-level employees in certain market sectors. Americans get mad at regulatory capture yet refuse to even consider the possibility that when you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.
I think it’s brilliant. I am such a useless tool and piss so many people off I have to fly first.
Cabinet Secretaries run organizations with budgets of hundreds of billions of our dollars. These people are on the go all the time and undoubtedly work on flights otherwise they would be overwhelmed. I know that in coach I’m always worried about the seat in front of me leaning back and destroying my computer among all the other annoyances. A lot of time I just give up and watch a movie on my iPhone. Personally, I think it should be a requirement that Cabinet Secretaries fly first so they can work efficiently. Short flights too since they are usually traveling to give a speech or a talk and need time to go over their notes and preparations. A more appropriate “scandal” if you could call it that are the private aircraft types generals and admirals use almost at will, yet there are no huge outcries over that practice.
Exactly, though that, along with the President and VP, are often more justifiable.
Imagine if the travel bloggers had their way and the Secretary of Defense flew coach everywhere. Mattis could tough it out better than me, but I still don’t think he would be very productive in UA economy for that 14 hour IAD- ICN on DL that the bloggers think would be such a great idea. But it would save the taxpayers $4K for him to go coach.
Oh wait, that is actually a codeshare and on Korean Air. So scratch that and put him on one of those UA or AA metal connecting flights for 20+ hours. You could save an extra $1K in coach. Why, the efficiencies are just piling up! Just hope his laptop keeps a charge for more than a couple of hours and the wifi works.
What a snowflake.
I have a lot of issues with both Pruitt and his justification for flying in first class.
That said, I actually think more people, especially in government, ought to sitting up front. We have set up this ridiculous system that’s designed to fail in that we’ve created a government sector that’s actively unappealing to our nation’s best and brightest. In effect, our public sector is attractive only to those who lack the skills for success in the private sector, an altruistic few, or those eager to use government roles to position themselves for post-government jobs with companies eager to fleece the American people.
We actively deny governmental organizations the policy flexibility to recruit, hire, and retain the best talent by limiting their ability to pay competitive salaries and then by building intricate policies designed to make it appear as though bureaucrats are wearing hair shirts. I recognize the need, in large organizations, to have policies that diminish waste or malfeasance, but if I can make double the money in the private sector whilst having more manageable policies to comply with, why would I ever take a government role?