Agency Premium Travel Reports show millions in upgrade fees

Which agencies sprung for the extra legroom 2009-2013

Written by M.G. Lee
Edited by JPat Brown

MuckRock user Jason Smathers’ sent requests to various federal agencies for their Premium Travel Reports to the U.S. General Services Administration, which records when government employees request special permission to fly in anything above coach class.  

Travel expenses of specific government employees are public record, and are frequently requested. However, Smathers took the reverse approach and requested the premium class travel permission for hosts of employees from hosts of government agencies from the GSA. The GSA is essentially the business and finance management agency of the U.S. government, and therefore approves many agencies’ travel reimbursements.  

One component of most of the reports is that each employee requesting first or business class travel has to detail the specific reason they need the preferred flight option through an agency code. For example, in that report for the Department of Treasury, most of the exceptions are B6 (the employee’s “flight time exceeds 14 hours”) or B9 (the seating is “required because of an agency mission.”)  

This is where things get interesting - the Department of the Treasury apparently doesn’t feel that a 14 hour flight warrants first class travel, as according to these reports their employees never fly anything better than business. The Veterans Association, however, feels differently, and since 2011 has flown all of their premium travel flights in first class.

Here’s how some other agencies look on paper when it comes to how fancy they fly:

The Census Bureau and, ironically, the Department of Energy were among the top spenders on premium travel of the agencies that responded:

The Marines almost never travel business or first class, at least on the Government’s dime:

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing almost never travels premium, but is VERY organized:

And last and sorta least, The Railroad Retirement Board basically never flies anywhere premium, which makes a lot of sense:

There’s plenty of docs to sift through, so take a look yourself and let us know if you find anything we missed!  


Image via Wikimedia Commons