Cabinet Secretary Took a $25,000 Private Jet Last Week — From DC to Philadelphia

Private jet travel can make great sense even if the political optics are tough especially when traveling between small cities on a tight schedule.

Walmart operates a fleet a private jets, not for their top executives but for middle managers traveling from Bentonville, Arkansas to stores in remote towns all over the country. It allows them to visit more than one store in a day versus taking two to three days per store.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, though, is coming under fire for one of his private jet flights last week: Washington Dulles – Philadephia.

He was traveling with 10 other people — which can make private jet travel more economical, however the charter company which flew the Secretary quotes a cost of “roughly $25,000” one-way for the Embraer 135LR.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services says,

“When commercial aircraft cannot reasonably accommodate travel requirements, charter aircraft can be used for official travel.”

Price flew private from Washington Dulles to Philadelphia. He did so leaving at 8:27 a.m.

Price’s charter left Dulles at 8:27 a.m. A United Express CRJ-700 operated by Mesa flies daily from Dulles to Philadelphia at 8:30 a.m. American Airlines operates earlier flights from Washington National and Baltimore. Government rail options are available from downtown DC to Philadelphia downtown at 7:00 a.m., 7:25 a.m., 8:00 a.m., 8:10 a.m., 8:40 a.m., and 9:00 a.m.

My theory on all of this — the only thing that makes sense — is that Secretary Price and a couple of the other travelers were on a free JetSmarter trials and flying a free empty leg.

If not they still should have been able to get a better deal, pricing out a charter on the JetSmarter app (which I haven’t necessarily found to be the cheapest) allows for 10 people to fly at about half the cost cited by Politico.

A JetSmarter membership could be a wise move for Secretary Price who reportedly took 5 charter flights last week. Indeed considering that charter companies consulted by media covering this are saying that they’ve “never seen a flight like this for less than $20,000” and the JetSmarter app is quoting me $13,000.

(HT: Sean O.)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Gary,
    did you cover the travel related news back in 2013 when the welfare chief of America, aka obama took the whole entourage to africa for a safari trip which cost the tax payers $100 million? i would be happy to provide the link if anyone asks.

  2. Typical republican hypocritical scumbags. But there will be other morons that will come here to defend them because they want to stick to the liberal elites (aka the oneones who finished school)

  3. @steven k
    George W went twice to Africa, likely in the similar $60M-100M range. But neither went to take a Safari. They go because they’re the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and are VISITING OTHER COUNTRIES ON PLANET EARTH. Countries that we work with and have alliances with. To attempt to make the world and the country a better place.

    Meanwhile, Trump has already spent at least $57M on Golf. At his own resorts. Where’s your outrage on that? Not a lot of diplomacy happening on those links.

  4. “simply google “obama safari vacation”
    case closed”

    I did! And I discovered that the trip was official business for a large part, that most presidential trips abroad cost that much, and that the Obamas didn’t even go on safari.

    But other than that, it’s exactly like someone chartering a plane to fly 32 minutes to Philly from DC.

  5. @Steven k

    The welfare chief? The one who inherited the worst economy and housing crisis of your lifetime, and turned it ALL around?

    Do you support a racist psychopath who will add trillions more to the deficit, while cutting funding to health, science and arts to pay for a bloated military and a useless wall? That’s fiscally conservative? Not too smart are you?

  6. @steven k

    Google = case closed? Seriously? Type in “Utah alien abduction”. Or “pizzagate clinton”.

    Honestly, Steven, if you think that Obama’s Africa trip cost $100 million, you’re not looking carefully enough.

    Anyway, let’s move on – I have a bridge to sell you.

  7. @ Andy, Total, and Sam…

    In the immortal words of George Carlin (likely paraphrasing something from Robert Heinlein):

    “Never argue with an idiot [steve k]. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.”

  8. I’ve taken the MegaBus from DC to Philly for ~$10. Came with free wifi.

    One thing that no one has commented on: he flew from IAD. IAD! By the time you drive to IAD, you might as well drive to Philly.

  9. Scumbag steve: complains about Obama doing his job as the head of state of one of the most powerful countries in the world, ignores the fact that our scumbag-in-chief PROFITS from the presidency every weekend when he goes home and charges secret service rack rates to stay at his resort. I bet your brainless head is from a welfare state too (AKA red state). I hope Congress actually manages to pass a bill to build a wall around YOU and make YOU pay for it!

  10. A private jet from DC to Philly is almost surely slower than the train. This is all about power. An outrageous waste of taxpayer money and typical of this administration. Trump has gone golfing, what, 40 times since January and has cost taxpayers a bloody fortune.

  11. Unfortunately, it wasn’t JetSmarter. Not only did he fly a round-trip per Politico (JS empty leg flights are all one-way), but he used a plane that JetSmarter doesn’t have access to.

    It looks like we all paid for that trip as taxpayers.

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