The Washington Post

Some officials have the best perks around

US Secretary of State John Kerry gestures at a press conference during the Syrian peace talks in Montreux, Switzerland, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened the meeting saying that the peace talks will face Secretary of State John Kerry  (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

Some government jobs have really cool perks.

Secretary of State John F. Kerry, for example, has recently taken to being dropped off or picked up en route to flights overseas. It was something former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton also did.

As we noted in 2010: “Some government officials have home-to-office cars and drivers. Not many have home-to-office planes and pilots. This is at least the second time she’s been dropped off in New York City on a flight to Washington. Raised some eyebrows.”

The most famous air commuter, of course, was former defense secretary and CIA director Leon Panetta, who flew home, sans press but with staff, from Washington to California on weekends.

Sometimes the detours by Kerry, who’s been known to take the shuttle as well, simply mean reporters and staff on the State Department plane are left waiting briefly. (Well, nobody was promised a non-stop.)  Sometimes the delays are longer. 

On Kerry’s return Saturday from Davos, Switzerland, the plane detoured to drop him off in Boston, we learned via Twitter. The plane refueled and took off to Washington after a ground delay of over an hour.  After another trip in late November he was dropped off in New York.  Again, the delay for those who stayed on board was relatively brief. Back on New Year’s Day, the plane picked him up in Boston to take off to the Middle East.

But there was a longer delay when he was dropped off in San Francisco on Dec. 18 —  after a killer trip to the Middle East and Asia —  so he could fly to his vacation house in Idaho (via a smaller government plane).  It turned out staff and reporters had to spend the night at a San Fran airport hotel  —  crew rest was required —  and lost a day getting home, right before Christmas.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.



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Al Kamen · January 29, 2014

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