An excerpt from article by Luke Rosiak, from the Washington Examiner:
Records obtained by the Washington Examiner under the Freedom of Information Act show that HHS executives spent $31 million taking 7,000 first class and business class flights between 2009 and 2013, including 253 trips for which a one-way ticket cost more than $15,000.
Half the records listed the price of a coach ticket for comparison. For that portion alone, the upgrade boosted the cost by almost $14 million, from $4.9 million to $18.5 million.
Federal employees are allowed to fly business or first class if the flight is longer than 14 hours, but only 1,400 of the 7,000 flights met that description.
For the vast majority of the flights—5,100—the government executives upgraded because they claimed they had a medical disability that necessitated it.
Others cited “exceptional security circumstances,” that no coach tickets were available, that a non-federal source was footing the bill, that first or business class was “required because of agency mission.”
Then-Secretary Kathleen Sebelius took 14 first- or business-class trips totaling $56,000, including flights to and within India and from Paris to Vietnam. . . .
And the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which manages Obamacare, took 50 upgraded flights, including a trip from Baltimore to a three-day conference in Phoenix where a first class ticket cost $3,000 each way. On another equally expensive trip to Baltimore, CMS’ Joseph Fine said first class travel was “required because of agency mission.”
CMS officials also flew business class from Charlotte, North Carolina to Charleston, South Carolina for $1,000 each way rather than drive three hours.