Feb. 11, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Leavin’ on a Jet Plane

Bill Clark/Roll Call
Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.) spends his long flights prepping notes and creating checklists for staff meetings.

Even in her first term, Bass is often recognized on flights by constituents ready to exercise their constitutional right to seek a redress of grievances.

“People definitely speak to me about the craziness of Congress. I spend time explaining to them how it works and that sometimes what appears to be crazy isn’t,” she says. “But sometimes it is.”

While work takes up the bulk of her flight, Bass also likes to relax by watching movies or reading a book.

“I usually watch whatever they show,” she says. “I read a lot of nonfiction. Right now I’m reading the biography of Ted Kennedy.”


Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.)

For Heck, the seven-hour flight home is an opportunity to get work done. He says he preps notes and creates checklists and goals to present during staff meetings. 

“Our office has something called a battle book that I look through for case work and email reports,” Heck says. “I get a lot of my most productive work done during these flights.”

And, like Bono Mack and Bass, he often encounters constituents who take advantage of the opportunity of sitting next to a Member of Congress.

“Sometimes you get people that are chatty, and you have to find a way to get back to work. They are thinking, ‘I’ve got my Representative on a flight so I should ask him some questions,’” Heck says.


Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii)

Hanabusa enjoys a good puzzle to pass the time of a 12-hour flight to the islands.

“I’ve always liked puzzles,” she says. “I do Sudoku, and recently somebody gave me a Kindle Fire for Christmas.” 

She also enjoys reading books that relate to her work as a lawmaker.

“I recently read this book called ‘Democracy’s Arsenal’ that I think is really good for anybody interested in the future of the military. It’s an excellent book,” says Hanabusa, who serves on the Armed Services Committee.

While a rocky flight might startle the uninitiated, Hanabusa draws on her experiences as a seasoned flier to maintain her composure.

“The worst airplane ride I can remember, when I was a younger kid we lost an engine and we were in the middle of the Pacific and we had to turn around. ... I think once you experience those things, turbulence is minor,” she says.


Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska)

Begich would prefer a Thursday evening flight to Anchorage, but his schedule rarely allows it.

“The Senate usually doesn’t vote till the late evening,” he says. “A lot of Senators can be home in less than an hour, and they forget that some of us have longer ways to go.”

Begich’s 4,000-mile cross-continental trip gives him time to rest before a full day of work. 

“I will work on that Friday I land, so it’s also important that I get time to sleep. Some days I’ll be working till 4 a.m., so it’s important that I manage my workload,” he says.

When constituents recognize Begich on a flight, they will often avoid speaking with him, opting instead for a more passive — and ever so modern — form of communication.

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