Does Pete Buttigieg have a private jet problem — or an airport problem?

Pete Buttigieg.
(Image credit: JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty Images)

Pete Buttigieg is winning the private jet primary.

The South Bend, Indiana mayor is leading the 2020 Democratic field in spending on private flights, racking up $300,000 in charter costs so far this year, The Associated Press reports. And while Buttigieg did pull in a field-topping $24.8 million in the second quarter to cover the flights, they do come at a notable contrast to his small-town image.

Buttigieg's flight costs aren't far ahead of former Vice President Joe Biden's $256,000, AP notes. Still, Buttigieg did also rack up a $110,000 bill at a Miami hotel during last month's Democratic debates, along with $20,000 at other Hilton hotels, $14,000 on car and limo services and $4,100 at a self-proclaimed "hip" hotel in Beverly Hills, his records show.

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Back on the flight path, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has reported spending $60,000 on private flights, but usually flies coach and turns airport shuttle rides into town halls. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has spent $18,000 and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) has spent $17,000, per campaign finance data.

A spokesperson for Buttigieg's campaign told AP that "we fly commercial as often as possible” and “we only fly noncommercial when the schedule dictates." NPR's Asma Khalid also offered up this possible explanation. Kathryn Krawczyk

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