Flying high: Members of Congress get free reserved parking as well as first-class flights

While legislation proposed this week would bar members of Congress from flying first class at taxpayers' expense, Capitol Hill lawmakers have another travel perk not likely to disappear anytime soon: free parking at Washington-area airports.

All 435 House members and 100 senators are allowed to use "restricted" parking areas at Ronald Reagan Washington National and Washington Dulles International airports. The special lots not only are free to lawmakers but also are closer to the airports' terminals than other parking areas.

The courtesy also is extended to the nine Supreme Court justices and foreign diplomats. Each congressional office, justice and embassy receives two passes for the restricted parking areas at the two airports.

That's not to say everyone with the privilege will find an open space when they show up at the airport. Only 100 out of Dulles' 24,000 overall parking places are reserved for those with the special passes, while National's restricted parking area fits 89 vehicles, compared with almost 8,900 overall parking spaces.

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