HHS spent $31M on upgraded flights, records show

The Department of Health and Human Services spent $31 million on 7,000 first-class and business-class flights in four years, according to records obtained by The Washington Examiner.

On about 250 of those trips, a single ticket cost more than $15,000, according to requests made under the Freedom of Information Act.


A majority of the trips were made by employees of the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health, all of which require some international travel.

Former HHS Secretary Kathleen SebeliusKathleen SebeliusJerry Moran: 'I wouldn't be surprised' if Pompeo ran for Senate in Kansas Mark Halperin inks book deal 2020 Democrats fight to claim Obama's mantle on health care MORE also took more than a dozen first- or business-class trips that tallied $56,000, including flights to India, Paris and Vietnam.

A majority of the flights by HHS executives — a total of 5,100 — had been upgraded because of a “medical disability that necessitated it,” according to the documents, which cover 2009 to 2013.

Under federal law, employees can fly in first class or business class when trips are longer than 14 hours, though The Examiner reports that only 1,400 of the HHS trips fit the description.

HHS is one of the federal government’s largest agencies, with an annual budget of about $60 billion.