There are many, many heartfelt tributes to Senator McCain. He was the consummate aviator and once held the Chairman seat of the Senate Commerce Committee. The below article tells a story of Arizona’s Senator which demonstrates INTEGRITY in terms of action defining principle in very real terms.
Voted for Perimeter Exemption for non-stop DCA-PHX flights
Did NOT fly non-stop
As a senator from Arizona, John McCain successfully fought for hard-to-get nonstop flights between Washington and Phoenix, among other cities.
But when Phoenix-based America West Airlines began service from Washington’s close-in Reagan National Airport to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in late 2000, McCain wasn’t on the packed flights.
He took the long(er) way home for years, booking flights that required a connection in another city.
Flights at Reagan Airport are restricted to a distance of 1,250 miles, though Congress has sporadically “exempted” certain flights from that “perimeter rule.” McCain led an effort to repeal the rule in 1999. It failed but ultimately helped lead to exemptions that included up to three daily nonstop flights on the 1,979-mile route between Washington and Phoenix.
McCain’s refusal to take the new nonstop was his way of stubbornly sticking to a vow he made in response to criticism that he wanted the flights only so he could shorten his commute.
“To John, that was such an abhorrent thing to be accused of, he just took it off the table and said, ‘OK, I won’t fly it,’ ” American Airlines CEO Doug Parker recalled. “I don’t think any other member (of Congress) would make that statement.”
Parker was an executive with America West from 1995 through its merger in 2005 with US Airways, when he became CEO of the combined carrier. He lived in Arizona until US Airways merged with American in 2013 and he became CEO of American.
He is a McCain family friend, counting McCain’s son Andy among his close friends. The two went to graduate school at Vanderbilt University. Another McCain son, Doug, is a pilot for American.
McCain’s refusal to take the nonstop flight tripped him up occasionally. Parker recalled that McCain missed a Phoenix event where he was scheduled to introduce President George W. Bush, who beat him to become the Republican nominee in 2000.
It wasn’t sour grapes. His connecting flight had been canceled.
“John was stuck,” Parker said.
His replacement: Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., who had taken the nonstop flight to Phoenix.
“He wouldn’t take the nonstop even to get to an event on time,” Parker said.
McCain eventually relented, though no one recalls exactly when. Parker said it was only in recent years. He said McCain told him he took the nonstop flight to make it home for the graduation of one of his children and was surprised no one noticed and criticized him.
“He finally said, ‘OK, no one seems to care. I think the statute of limitations has run out.’ ”
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