Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, In Row 19 On Delta

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, known for arriving at the airport “hours early for flights to avoid mishaps and to ensure choice space in overhead compartments,” was spotted today flying coach on Delta to Detroit today to give a speech. She was relegated to row 19.

Secretary Yellen is headed to give a speech in Dearborn, Michigan, so she’s flying to Detroit. The person sharing this doesn’t say where the flight originated but it looks like Delta and I assume DC. Delta has the GSA city pair contracts (and the best service) from all 3 DC area airports.

Honestly it seems to me that the Treasury Secretary – whatever your politics – ought to warrant first class. She’s obviously working, reading her briefing book, which presumably includes the speech she’ll be giving.

It’s fair to say she ‘doesn’t deserve it’. While she reportedly argued for lower government spending when the Biden Administration’s $1.9 trillion ‘American Rescue Plan’ was put together, she lost that fight. And she’s acknowledged she didn’t anticipate the inflation that was, in part, fed by that legislation (as well as earlier massive spending packages).

In her speech Yellen made the best argument she could for the administration’s spending vis-a-vis the challenge of inflation, that it would help grow the economy’s productive capacity. Inflation stems from too much money chasing too few goods, and both Federal Reserve loose money and federal spending have pumped in money. The administration has largely relied on the Fed to tighten, but more goods and services would help dampen inflation as well (this is a strong argument for deregulation).

There are few more qualified for the role at Treasury, of course, bureaucratic infighting skills necessary to dampen inflation-fueled spending sprees notwithstanding. She’s a former Chair of the Federal Reserve, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and UC Berkeley economics professor (early in her career she taught at Harvard as well). Her husband George Akerlof is the 2001 Nobel Laureate in Economics.

I have to think if I were 76 year old Yellen, and Secretary of the Treasury, I’d just come out of pocket for the upgrade to first class – hardly a luxury on a domestic jet. She can easily afford it on the speaking fees she earned between leaving the Fed and taking up as Treasury Secretary alone.

(HT: @crucker)

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. […] I’m always a little bit torn between thinking those governing us should remain connecting to those they represent, and experience life in the same way, and believing that they (at least should) have a high opportunity cost of time and that we want them working all the time, actually reading legislation on the plane, etc. and therefore ought to be traveling first class. Surely Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen should be flying first class, at least. […]


  1. It’s good to see Cabinet Members fly in coach. So much $$$ gets wasted in DC. Good for her!

  2. Maybe she wanted to fly coach to “set the tone?” More likely she flew with the peasants to avoid political bullshit from the people who would scream about her flying first class. The ones that will stay absolutely silent about her being fiscally responsible because…MAGA.

  3. During his short-lived term as Minister of Finance for Greece, Varoufakis blogged about not even taking the priority lane through security. He also made Valve millions by devising a currency entirely based around digital hats for characters in games. He’s got my respect, but I’ll take my fast lane and priority boarding. It’s not that I’m better than others; it’s just that I’m more efficient and concerned not to waste everyone’s time.

  4. Delta has not properly coded her SkyMiles account as a member of the ruling class. They get unlimited upgrades and and a note on their profile to do whatever they want. I live in DC You RARELY see a member of the ruling class not treated like gold by the airlines. Airlines aren’t stupid, they know who shovels billions of free money at them.

  5. Gary Leff can easily afford first class too but he needs to maintain a middle class image or this blog becomes unrelatable.

  6. Wow. Gary Leff hasn’t banned me despite the flurry of profane ad hominem attacks I’ve launched against him and several other members of the readership.

  7. Seems stupid to have high ranking government officials traveling not only with the public but in coach.

    Clapping your hands because someone saved the US government a few 100 bucks is stupid. But it’s akin to the kind of thinking low iq Americans have.

  8. @Babblespeak
    na it’s usually the libtards that try and blame people for evey little thing. Like when a thunderstorm destroyed some trees last week in dallas all the libs were complaining about Abbot. Everytime there’s a natural weather disaster the libs find a way to blame someone.

  9. Government works for us. They’re lucky we the people let them have a seat instead of clinging to a shipping container in the cargo hold.

  10. Wait a second. Libtards? You understand it’s republicans with the lowest IQs, right?

  11. Personally ai they no all cabinet members and Congressional leadership (like majority and minority leader in both houses) should be able to fly private on government aircraft.

    Politics aside don’t you think our governmental leadership should have comfort, space and privacy. I mean seriously. The cost difference doesn’t matter in the scheme of things and this is frankly embarrassing for the US

  12. Considering BIden’s climate czar can’t even stoop to fly commercial but instead flies a private jet, Yellen is trying to portray an image of responsibility.
    Given that she was a fan of pumping trillions of dollars into the economy and didn’t see the recession risk, she is right to not book first class or ask for an upgrade.
    Of course, if she really wanted to be incognito, she could have read something else or put her document in a plain folder.

  13. Some of these posts are absolutely inappropriate, calling people names and equating elected officials with dogs. These posts say more about the authors than the Americans they disagree with. We should be better than this.

  14. The 2 people next to her might be ordinary people. I would ask for her autograph. I’ve seen Senators and Congressmen before on planes and have asked for autographs.

    It’s fine that she’s flying economy class. Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor shops at Costco. She is single. Maybe she shouldn’t be buying Costco’s small size food packages, which are about 20 lbs. ha ha

  15. JW, this is the political free-for-all blog. An article about the bathroom smoke detectors will degenerate into a polarized brawl. There is no sense of civility. Topics seem to be calculated to do this for want of click ratings for Google Ads comp.

  16. I’m with @JW. Even by the peanut gallery I’m stunned by some of the comments. Outside of summoning trolls, is there a valid reason for this?

  17. @Christian @JW and others:

    It’s because too many frequent flyers that obsess enough to read blogs like this on how to maximize and maintain their status don’t have enough time on their hands to also be morally upstanding people. Just because they fly first or business class doesn’t mean they have any actual class.

  18. It seems that one person is posting inappropriate comments using a few different names. The persona on this thread left a clue that supports this.

  19. There are only two people who leave comments on this blog. You, and one other person.

  20. what about the fact that she got a middle seat? to me, that’s much more surprising than her sitting in economy. it’s pretty cheap and easy to avoid. and the flight isn’t that short, either!

  21. It’s an aisle seat. Not a middle seat. The photographer clarified this, but anybody with IQ would have deduced it from the fact that the plane is a regional jet.

    Okay, maybe I do not need to be mean. But do you know why I am this way? Because others have been mean to me in the past.

  22. Steven Mnuchin flew using military jets. Is this a good example of a treasury secretary effectively using government money?

  23. I’ve always thought it was very weird that we expect Cabinet officials to fly coach and consider it scandalous when they fly first class. On the other hand, senior military officers all fly private.

  24. When a government official is travelling in coach, they are likely wasting resources by working much less efficiently. That said, I like the optics of a high level official sitting with the masses. Maybe they have an egalitarian impulse. More likely, it’s a show. Either way, it causes me to feel a bit better about them

  25. The old hag should be in the belly of the plane with the luggage. She is a complete failure just like the rest of the Biden Regime.

  26. Someone screwed up on this booking and will be taught a lesson. This biddy is so bad at her job and wrong on so many things.

  27. Government employees and contractors HAVE to fly economy, well, at least they have to book economy. There are a very few exceptions but generally if you see a USG person up front its bc of their status getting them a free upgrade or they paid for it themselves, just like us peons.

  28. I’m glad government employees have to fly coach. Last thing we want is a bunch of government employees flying around first class on the taxpayer dime. Let them sit in economy so they can see what most of society has to put up with.

  29. Not sure she needed to go to talk to liberals about the Bien-Liberal Inflation Tax increase bill to ???lower energy fees.NOT

  30. HUMILITY … something in short supply these days.

    Bravo to the 76-year-old Treasury Secretary for showing she’s not out of touch.

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