Spring break travel ... Congress-style
I'll admit I've been on nicer planes, but the Boeing 737 Executive Jet operated by the 201st Airlift Squadron of the D.C. Air Reserve Guard is pretty nice.
Plush first-class seats, just 34 on the entire plane. There's a conference area with a table, a full length couch. Retractable movie screens pop out of the ceiling to view the latest films. And in the back, the galley is equipped to deliver snacks, appetizers and full meals.
In fact, Master Sergeant Don Humphries, who acts as the first flight attendant, says that when a trip gets planned, he starts planning the menu.
The sergeant gets a budget and special requests, and then he goes shopping. Once all the groceries are bought, he and his staff hand carry and load them on-board, so these Air Force reservists can be prepared to cater to their passengers' every need.
It all sounds great, doesn't it? Sounded great to me too until I realized the mission of this plane is to fly around members of Congress on some questionable trips. Officially, they are called CODELS: Congressional delegations. Members of Congress use these military jets to fly all over the world on fact-finding missions.
Flying in military jets is especially important when our leaders need to go to Iraq, or remote parts of Africa, Afghanistan -- places that are hard to get to or dangerous to visit.
But the Virgin Islands, Trinidad, London? At $10,000 a flight hour, those places are where some of your representatives took these military planes over spring break.
The bill for Rep. Barney Frank's flight to London and Brussels was $160,000.00. He could have flown his entire group business class for about half the cost. But his spokesman said flying the military charter made the transportation a lot easier.
That's the same reason Rep. Bennie Thompson's delegation didn't fly commercial. They made lots of stops: Mexico, Honduras, the Virgin Islands and Key West. That's a tough itinerary if you have to travel commercially. The cost of the flights: $130,000.00
Let me know if you think you got your money's worth.
-- By Drew Griffin, CNN CorrespondentEditor's note: When leaving a comment, please don't forget to add your name, city/town and state.