- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The average flier may have to pay costly parking rates and pricey flight cancellation fees — but not so for congressional members.

A new book, “Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets,” shows just how many perks congressional members and their staffers receive from airlines.

“They are treated completely differently [from average Americans] from the time they book their ticket until the time they land at the airport,” said Kate Hanni, director of Flyers Rights, to Roll Call.

For instance, politicians can reserve large chunks of seating on several different scheduled flights, but when they cancel the ones they don’t need, they aren’t charged those normally costly cancellation fees, Breitbart reported.

Congressional members also get free parking, thanks to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. Washington Dulles International Airport sets aside 97 spaces for Congress; Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport has 89.

On top of all that, when staffers need to make a reservation for their congressional bosses, they dial in on a private line set up just for Congress, Breitbart reported.

The author of the book, Government Accountability Institute President Peter Schweizer, said part of airlines’ outreach to lawmakers is to keep them from coming down hard on the regulatory front.

“Why do airlines pamper them? Precisely because they know that getting on the wrong side of the Permanent Political Class can cause their industry serious problems,” he wrote. And to Breitbart, he added: These people don’t “live and play by the same rules you and I do. The things that would send us to jail are simply ‘another day at the office’ for Washington politicians.”