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Donald Trump waves to supporters from his private plane during a campaign rally, in Grand Junction, Colo., in 2016.
Donald Trump waves on his private plane during a campaign rally, in Grand Junction, Colo., in 2016.Brennan Linsley / AP

How each 2024 candidate flies is starting to get attention

Nikki Haley posted on social media Wednesday thanking an airline worker with a potentially pointed hashtag: #weflycommercial.

By and

Republican presidential candidates’ schedules are getting more crowded as they crisscross the country building up support and donations. That means more travel — and more attention on just how they are traveling.

On social media Wednesday, Presidential Candidate Ambassador Nikki Haley posted a picture with an American Airlines worker named Andrew. She called him an “angel” for helping her get on a flight after delays. She ended the post with the hashtag “#weflycommercial.” 

Team Haley’s Twitter account retweeted her post and said, “We’ll never take our supporters’ donations for granted! Every cent counts. #WeFlyCommercial”

It may have been a veiled shot at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is facing campaign finance woes — and whose second-quarter financial report included six-figures worth of spending on aviation companies, plus hundreds of thousands more on “travel” with a cryptically named LLC. DeSantis’ campaign has fired more than 40% of its original staff due to spending concerns, though in a memo obtained by NBC News, the campaign is trying to reassure donors that its strategy is still strong. 

While private travel is fast and direct, it’s expensive. Former Vice President Mike Pence and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson have been flying commercial while out on the trail this cycle, according to their campaigns. 

Sen. Tim Scott, meanwhile, has hundreds of thousands of dollars in air travel expenses listed in his campaign finance filings, suggesting some use of private planes. But he has also been seen boarding commercial flights to events during his 2024 campaign.

With the exception of his time as president, when he was flying on Air Force One, Donald Trump has long flown private on Trump-branded jets. The planes have often served as a backdrop at his campaign events.

Vivek Ramaswamy is part of the handful of candidates in this race flying private, allowing him to fill up his schedule and hop back and forth between Iowa and New Hampshire rapidly. (It also helps that he’s self-funding his campaign with millions of his own wealth.)

Just last week, Ramaswamy skipped two different campaign events due to issues surrounding his private jet. 

According to his campaign, the plane they normally take could not handle the distance between Iowa and Nevada, and the team was concerned the available commercial flights wouldn’t work with the rest of Ramaswamy’s schedule. Ramaswamy also missed an event the same weekend with Mom’s For Liberty in Iowa due to “plane troubles.” It got fixed by the afternoon and he was able to make the next event.

NBC News asked the 37-year-old entrepreneur if he is opposed to flying commercially during a campaign stop in New Hampshire last week. Ramaswamy responded that it’s more about saving time.

“In the last several years I’ve flown commercial plenty of times, but out of necessity, if [I] need to get from point A to point B and the rate at which we’re going we actually are -- if I have to get to point A to point B,” flying private is the fastest way, Ramaswamy said. “We’re looking at efficiency to do this.”