Secretary of State John Kerry has to fly commercial after Air Force jet breaks down

August 14, 2014

Flight delays stink, no matter who you are.

Secretary of State John F. Kerry flew around the world over the past week, zipping hither and yon for nine days on his Air Force jet till the plane broke down Thursday.

Kerry was supposed to fly home to Washington from Hawaii early in the morning but instead took a commercial United Airlines flight hours later.

“Finally, some frequent-flier miles,” Kerry said when his staffers explained the alternate arrangements, according to a senior State Department official.

The State Department official who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record, said an electrical problem with the Air Force Boeing 757 forced it to remain on the ground at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii.

The glitch came on the very last leg of a trip that took Kerry to Afghanistan, Burma, Australia and the Solomon Islands.

Most of his staff trundled onto the United flight, along with reporters who had traveled with Kerry. He was in first class; most everyone else was not.

Kerry has often expressed frustration with his aging plane, which has previously run into technical problems during his global journeys that have made him one of the most traveled U.S. secretaries of state.

While waiting for his flight, Kerry received a briefing from U.S. Navy Adm. Samuel Locklear, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, and spoke with several administration and foreign officials, Reuters reported, citing a spokesman.

Since assuming office Feb. 1, 2013, Kerry has juggled priorities amid a virtually nonstop travel schedule that has left many around him often exasperated and exhausted.

He has already overtaken his predecessor Hillary Rodham Clinton in his first year as America’s top diplomat, clocking up 519,136 miles to 51 countries in 239 days, according to State Department figures.

Anne Gearan is a national politics correspondent for The Washington Post.
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