Two Strange Things About The Congressman Who Died Flying LA – Seattle On Friday

Don Young, the 88 year old longest-serving member of the House of Representatives (49 years!) died while preparing to fly Los Angeles – Seattle on Friday evening. His wife was with him and noticed that he had stopped breathing.

One of the stranger things about coverage of the incident, which has blanketed the news, is that the flight where this happened goes unmentioned. (There were also no viral first-person accounts on social media that I could locate.)

  • Alaska Airlines, Delta, United and American all operate Los Angeles – Seattle.

  • However Young was connecting onward to Alaska, making flying Alaska Airlines the most likely (though Delta also operates the route).

  • Indeed Alaska Airlines confirmed the death according to Young’s first Chief of Staff.

The second thing that strikes me as strange, perhaps even ironic in the Alanis Morissette not-really-ironic sense, is that Young wound up in Congress for the first time after his opponent died in a plane crash. It’s at least a striking coincidence!

  • Young ran for Congress in 1972 against Nick Begich and lost even though Begich had already died. It was only then, when a special election was held to fill Begich’s seat in 1973, that Young was elected to Congress.

  • On October 16, 1972, Begich was traveling with House Majority Leader Hale Boggs on a Cessna 310 that disappeared enroute from Anchorage to Juneau. The aircraft was never recovered. Conspiracy theorists maintain that there was foul play, either involving the Tucson mafia or FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

Young’s politics were anachronistic. A Republican, he praised President Trump on oil drilling but argued vociferously against his original election (and criticized efforts to overturn the 2020 election). He co-chaired the Congressional Cannabis Caucus and authored the GRAM Act – Gun Rights and Marijuana – to protect the right of marijuana aficionados to use funds.

The late Congressman is also accused to sitting in first class while his wife sat in coach. Perhaps he believed that an upgrade should never go to waste, and should be used by the person to whom it is given.

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 suppose someone flying weekly between Alaska and Washington is statistically more likely to die in a plane or in a plane crash than the average American.

  2. The second thing that strikes me as strange, perhaps even ironic in the Alanis Morissette not-really-ironic sense, is that Young wound up in Congress for the first time after his opponent died in a plane crash.

    This is not ironic (in any sense of the word) not even particularly interesting. His predecessor died in a plane crash, 50 years later he died in an airport. You might as well comment on the striking similarities of their names — they both have a “g” in one of the last two letters of their last names, and both Begich’s first and last names are exactly one letter longer than Young’s.

    I mean, talk about coincidence!

  3. As a pilot of small aircraft I have read several stories of crashes, disappearances and near losses in southeast Alaska. The weather is changeable and often poor, the mountains high and landing places rare. Before emergency locators were the norm it really isn’t a surprise to hear of someone vanishing there. Incidentally any conspiracy theory involving J Edgard Hoover in October of 1972 would be a good trick, as he died in May of that year.

  4. The number of Alaska politicians involved in air crashes over the years is astounding. Not only did Ted Stevens die is a crash, he was involved in one in 1978 that he survived, but killed his first wife.

  5. “Not only did Ted Stevens die is a crash, he was involved in one in 1978 that he survived, but killed his first wife.” Sounds almost Ted Kennedy-ish.

    Given the vast amount of land covered by Alaska and its long distance from the lower 48 states, both commercial and general aviation are essential to the state. General aviation airplanes, often with single engines and non-professional pilots, combined with the cold and snow, make for riskier flying. That said, would love to get back to Alaska sometime.

  6. At least his Alaska miles didn’t die with him. Alaska Airlines allows a free transfer of miles from a deceased’s account. It is a program called Memorial Miles. I hope he didn’t have SkyMiles because if he did, those miles died when he did.

  7. Did you really mean to write that Congressman Young’s politics were “anachronistic,” as that doesn’t make any sense.

    Perhaps “antithetical” works better?

  8. As a lifelong Alaskan we will greatly miss you. I didn’t always agree with your politics but always knew where you stood on the issues important to us Alaskans. You can see the bipartisan respect Young had when you review the condolences messages on social media.

    CM Anchorage

  9. better than brandon’s policies right now of NOT letting us drill for oil, hence our high prices. reaping what we sow.

  10. @KL, Oil companies aren’t using the leases they have now. They prefer to use their enormous profits to buyback stock and drive up share prices. The US is not Russia. The president can’t force oil companies to drill. The price of oil has dropped significantly recently. Gas prices haven’t.

  11. It’s not “Biden’s policy of not letting us drill” that has brought on the high prices. You may have noticed that oil and gas are worldwide commodity markets and that US prices vary exactly with other countries’ prices (these commodities are priced in USD). The prices go up when there is more demand than supply, and surprise! as we come out of a huge demand pit from when things were closed due to coronavirus, and nobody wanted to turn the tap on, up went prices as demand exploded and supply lags months behind. BIden, for his part, released a large quantity of strategic petroleum reserves to hold this escalation down, and is doing so again. But you just keep blathering your Republican nonsense because Biden’s the devil to you partisans. And when the supply equalizes to the demand, as it will (and as it began this week), $120 oil will head back down again…… and you will blame Biden again for yet some other “failing”.

  12. He was a jerk before congress and got rich from being in office.

    Bridge(s) to no where.

    Using an oosick to publicly ridicule.

    Knife to Boehner’s throat.

    Beer virus speech to elderly Alaskans.


    Yes, He was an anachronism. A throw back to when Alaska was a poor, sparsely populated, Cold War backwater.

    Now Alaska is a modern petro state with 7 times as many people, a primarily urbanized lifestyle, high speed internet, crashing fisheries, and an addiction to the PFD (But don’t you dare call the PFD socialism or guaranteed minimum income, which by definition it is).

    Alaska needs more modern representation. Hope it gets it.

  13. @john – There’s a difference between a lease and a permit. The Biden administration isn’t approving the permits – or it’s taking a very long time. BLM approved just 95 drilling permits in January 2022 vs. 643 in April 2021. No sense getting more leases when they won’t let you use the ones you have.

  14. I’m a fairly large stockholder in Chevron CVX and Devon Energy DVN, as well as CTRA, ENB, MPLX, and XOM–all energy companies. These companies–through their CEOs, who have been interviewed on TV–have said they do NOT want to increase production in order to lower consumer prices. Why would they? Their first duty is to their shareholders, who want higher prices (eg higher profits). It has zero to do with Pres Biden’s policies, and EVERTHING to do with Wall Street.

  15. Kimmie
    your statements are factually incorrect.
    All of the energy companies have said they will not increase production as long as there is a hostile environment toward fossil fuels which makes it not worth the investment.

    Given that those companies were investing billions and pushed down fuel prices for much of the Trump administration which was focused on US energy independence, your “facts” are counter to what those companies actually have done.

    There is no justifiable reason to beg Venezuela and Iran to produce energy when Americans can do it in Alaska and elsewhere in the US of A.

  16. Tim Dunn, I love your factual, insult free rebuttals and I don’t want to get on your bad side, but, it’s been well reported in the business press that Wall Street doesn’t want producers spending millions on new production, they want dividends and they want them now! No doubt Kimmie’s bank account reflects this. Have some producers said what you claim? No doubt, to protect their Wall Street overlords (and themsleves) from the wrath of consumers. I know what I have read and it can be both things. So let’s just agree to disagree please?

  17. Why do you write a headline (“died while flying”) that doesn’t match the actual news (“died while preparing to fly”)? Is the inaccuracy in the headline so necessary to get people to click on the article?

  18. 7 Senators and about 15 Congressman 80 or over. At least the President is term limited. The only way the guys ever seem to leave is to die.

  19. CM, “No sense getting more leases when they won’t let you use the ones you have.”

    There are more than 9,000 drilling permits that have been approved and aren’t being used. No sense approving more permits when oil companies aren’t using the ones they have. Approving permits today will provide no relief on the price of oil anyway because of the time lag from permitting to production assuming oil companies actually decide to use them. Biden doesn’t control big oil nor does any president control the price of oil and gas. It sounds good on Fox, though.

  20. Southwest Airlines also flies between Los Angeles and Seattle. Though I agree it’s not likely he was flying them.

  21. Great foresight on the part of the government. Let’s discourage production of a vital resource on home turf and rely the Saudis and Maduro for support when thing go wrong with the Green blob. Neither of whom have any interest in supporting the most ‘powerful’ country on earth. Quite embarrassing. Brandonomics at its beat.

  22. My wife and I actually sat behind him and his wife in AS First DCA-SEA in 2019. Interestly, he got off the plane in SEA while we continued on to our home in ANC. He said he he couldn’t take making the whole journey in one day due to his health.

  23. @John – Yes, when you’re out of arguments, insult your opponent with the Fox charge. Which I don’t watch, but apparently you do, via CNN, because you seem to know an awful lot about what they (supposedly) say.

    Here’s the reality – yes, approving permits today doesn’t lower the price immediately – but it will eventually. And just because a permit is approved today, it doesn’t mean drilling starts tomorrow. There is a long lead time in an any drilling project. Always has been, always will be. But if you start choking down the system over four years, it’s going to take a long time to get it started again. And Biden did pledge to stop all drilling on federal land.

    As for Biden not controlling the price of oil and gas, you’re both right and wrong. He can’t control it, but he has friends who can – or at least he did. The Saudis can turn the spigot and flood the market, lowering the price, pretty much instantly. Unfortunately for us, Old Joe has managed to piss off the Saudis and Emiratis so much, they won’t even take his phone call because he’s stupidly pursuing the nuclear deal with the Iranians via the Russians, and the last thing they both want is the Iranians back on the world stage with a nuclear weapon – which is certainly where the nuclear deal will lead. Joe is proving the American word is worth nothing, which is why the Saudis are starting to cozy up to the Chinese.

  24. C_M, I’ll repeat because you must have missed the key point of my comment: “There are more than 9,000 drilling permits that have been approved and aren’t being used. No sense approving more permits when oil companies aren’t using the ones they have.”

  25. SST and John. There is a difference in releasing permits and granting leases. The oil
    Companies have been burned in the past when they have started projects at a large expense only
    then to have them shut down and or abandoned when permits were not granted. The current POTUS has made it crystal clear in the past that he is against new drilling especially in my home state of Alaska. Believe what you want! but it is the democrats who are using smoke and mirrors to try an weasel there way out of this mess.

  26. Ralph your comments are both rude, nasty and insulting! You obviously aren’t from Alaska and have never been there. Young was much beloved in this state across party lines. Your ignorance is astounding. And no the PFD is not a social welfare program. It was designed to reward Alaskans by providing them with extra income to supplement the very high cost of living here. Take your left wing rhetoric elsewhere.

  27. So long as Uncle Ted was alive, all Don had to do was vote with Ted and not be too much of an embarrassment.

    Feel free to fact check anything I said. He was the Billy Carter of Alaskan politics. He will be mourned loudly. But I predict the mourning period will be short as the Alaskan electorate quickly moves on to the challenge of having a freshman congressman.

    I remember Good Friday. And Bill and Ernest and Howard and Walter and even Mike. Back in the day, Don wasn’t in their league. Well, maybe Mike’s. Somethings just can’t be explained.

  28. Ted Stevens has been dead for a long time now. Don has done much for Alaska since that time. Obviously Stevens had more power as he was a Senator and worked alongside Murkowski in mainly Republican administrations. If Don was so weak I wonder how he got elected every time since 1974 in mainly landslide votes?

  29. Ohhh..all these permits…It’s Wallstreet. NOT BIDEN. it is Biden. Has been Biden. And will keep being Biden. UNTIL HE LEAVES. He’s put a choke hold on oil company’s. All the Stupid made up regulations. Permits and God knows what else. This isn’t Putin. THE PRICE OF GAS ROSE THE DAY AFTER BIDEN SHUT DOWN THE PIPELINE. EXPLAIN THAT AWAY. And they keep on rising. This has Nothing to do with PSAKI’s 9,000 permits. NOTHING. Funny how she pulled that number out of thin air. It was 9,000 Americans that the Coward in Chief Abandoned in Afghanistan.

  30. Follow the money. China and Russia had Don Young in their pockets. I’ve been at his fundraisers…

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