Senator Ted Cruz’s excuses as to why he fled to Cancun last week while wild weather ravaged his home state continued to fall apart as United Airlines confirmed it was investigating how his flight itinerary had been leaked to the press.
Cruz drew widespread condemnation last week after he traveled to Cancun for a tropical getaway in the midst of a winter storm crisis in his home state of Texas. He chose to fly United Airlines from its Houston hub down to Cancun. After just one night there, he was heading back to Houston. With his trip starting to attract a lot of media attention, Senator Cruz’s story about why he was in Mexico and for how long changed.
On Monday, the airline said it was probing how the media was tipped off about the Republican senator’s original plan to travel home after a long weekend getaway — and subsequent flight change, which came after intense backlash over his reported travels. Now the airline wants to know who leaked Cruz’s travel information
“It’s against United’s policies to share personal information about our customers, and we are investigating this incident,” a United Airlines spokesperson told Simple Flying.
Cruz had originally booked his return flight for Saturday, but the travel information leaked to reporter Edward Russell reportedly indicated the itinerary had been rebooked at about 6am on Thursday last week, as news broke of the senator’s travels.
Critics on both sides of the political spectrum condemned the senator for fleeing Texas as the unprecedented winter storm spurred rolling blackouts and sent then state into a water and energy crisis. On Thursday, as calls for Cruz to resign grew, he told media outlets the trip was planned at the request of his young daughters.
“It was obviously a mistake, and in hindsight, I wouldn’t have done it,” Cruz said.
He had originally made it appear as though he was only visiting for the day to send his kids and wife off with friends to Cancun, where they were staying at the Ritz Carlton.
“Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon,” the senator said in an initial statement. “My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas.”
He added: “I didn’t want all the screaming and yelling about this trip to distract even one moment from the real issues that I think Texans care about, which is keeping all of our families safe.”
But those claims were found to be essentially false, as it became clear he was planning to stay in Mexico until Saturday with his friends and family. Several reports cited an aide to the senator who said he extended the invitation to his Princeton and Harvard Law roommate, David Panton, after the family scheduled the trip last Tuesday.
As Mr. Panton remained in Mexico, Cruz was forced to return home, where he took on community service and charity work that was widely criticized as a staged photo-op amid the increasing backlash over his travels.
On the face of it, this is an amusing travel story about a hapless politician with a poor sense of timing and a talent for digging his own PR holes. It’s also worth noting it wasn’t the media that first blew the whistle on the Cancun trip. The Senator’s family and friends had discussed the trip on their publicly accessible social media feeds. That included details of the lavish hotel they planned to stay in.
Spoke to a source at United Airlines, Senator Ted Cruz rebooked his flight back to Houston from Cancun for this afternoon at around 6 a.m. today (Thursday). He was originally scheduled to return on Saturday.https://t.co/QV9xgibIQ9
— Edward Russell (@ByERussell) February 18, 2021