Let Me Teach You How To Travel on Air Force One
Air Force One is actually just the call sign for any fixed-wing aircraft on which the president of the United States happens to be flying. In practice, however, this term usually means one of two specially converted Boeing 747 jets, with the tail numbers 28000 and 29000. As ‘the flying White House’, there are few more secure places to be, but getting aboard is not going to be easy.
Despite its size, Air Force One only has room for around 70 passengers, so your best chance of getting a regular seat is being elected to the office of president. Franklin Roosevelt began the tradition of presidential flying, but the job is quite demanding, and your desire to see inside the presidential aircraft does not make you automatically suitable.
If you do make it to that exalted office, though, you’ll have access to considerable resources on board, including your own bedroom, bathroom,\ office and mini-gym. Another option is to be a member of the president’s family or a specially invited guest. President George W. Bush’s guest list even included his pet cats and dogs.
You might get a ticket if you’re a suitably important member of the presidential staff. The most senior people get their own designated office space and there is also a conference room. Even if you are some way down the pecking order, you can expect all the comforts of a first-class flight, including plentiful room to work.
Selected journalists are invited aboard, with a designated seating section for the press corps accessed by the rear door on the plane. The pool usually numbers around 13, with the composition changing from flight to flight – only the Reuters news agency assigns a designated correspondent and photographer on all presidential flights. There are other professional roles you could aim for. The plane of course needs a pilot and co-pilot and there is a crew of some 26, selected from among military personnel. There is a also staff doctor who travels with the president at all times. Meanwhile, security falls to a team of armed Secret Service agents.
Anyone going on board can expect to undergo the most stringent of security screenings – if you’re tempted to sneak your way on, anyone who has seen the 1997 movie Air Force One will be able to confirm that things are unlikely to turn out well for you.
One nice finishing touch is that no one leaves Air Force One empty-handed – at the end of a flight all passengers are given a certificate and a limited edition box of presidential M&Ms.