Senators Want You to Fly Coach When You Travel

Recently introduced legislation would ban federal employees from flying first or business class on official travel.

Recently introduced legislation would ban federal employees from flying first class or business class when traveling for work.

The Fly Smart Act (S. 1559) was introduced by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR). FedSmith readers will remember that he is the same Senator pushing adding a new investment option to the Thrift Savings Plan to combat climate change. This new bill takes issue with federal employees who fly first class at the expense of taxpayers.

“After news story after news story about the abuse of the current system, it’s clear that Congress needs to act to make sure that not another dollar of taxpayer money is spent on luxury flights,” said Merkley. “Public servants should use their positions to serve the public, not live the high life on the public dime.”

The bill is currently co-sponsored by Senator John Kennedy (R-LA).

Merkley introduced the bill in light of the news that the Inspector General at the Environmental Protection Agency suggested that the EPA might want to consider recouping the costs of some of former administrator Scott Pruitt’s first class airfare, $123,942 to be exact. EPA declined to do so, however, saying that the costs were properly authorized.

Merkley and Kennedy believe that federal executive branch employees, including cabinet secretaries and other high-ranking officials, should be flying coach. The bill would allow for first and business class tickets only in extenuating circumstances, such as if no alternative flight options can be found. All exceptions would have to be approved by a waiver that is publicly filed no later than 90 days following the travel, and blanket waivers would not be permitted.

The bill would also prohibit using military aircraft for domestic official travel unless the destination is a military installation or the employee or head is serving in or applying to a position in the Department of Defense.

A summary of the bill is included below. Feel free to discuss the bill in the comments.

Fly Smart Act Bill Summary by FedSmith Inc. on Scribd

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.