Is President Obama the Elitist of the Elite?

As a disclaimer, this post is not political.

The other day I flew in to Minneapolis and since I was stuck on a CRJ-700, my rollerboard had to be gate checked.  Upon arrival into MSP, the gate agent boarded the plane and told the FAs that the ramp was closed so our bags wouldn't be returned to us at the gate, but at baggage claim.  The reason was that President Obama was in town and he was going to leave "soon", but they really had no idea when.

Given that we were already an hour later, I was a bit frustrated as I was running late to my meeting, but it is what it is.   So I wandered down to baggage claim and on my way asked myself "If the ramp is closed, how are they going to get the bags to baggage claim?".

Upon reaching the baggage office, I inquired as to when the bags would be out and the agent said they have no idea because of the situation.   Since I was obviously frustrated, she offered to pull my bag and hold it for a pick up later.  When I went back, I found out it took over an hour for the bags to come out because of the delay, so it was best that I didn't wait.

But, to the point of my post... this isn't the first time the current president has foiled my plans.  The most notable occurence was a few years ago, the Friday before Memorial Day as I'm headed to Chicago, we started circling over Lake Michigan for 30 minutes so the President could land.  

In all my flying, I've never had such issues with other presidents and I started wondering why President Obama insists on flying into the commercial airports as opposed to the military that are generally more often used.  After all, isn't his job to serve the people and not to inconvenience them?   This self-centeredness reminds me of an over-entitled elite demanding an upgrade.  

At the least, if he insists on flying into commercial airports, maybe he should start being subjected to the TSA and their insanity.


Ron February 7, 2013 at 11:22 am

All activity on the tarmac and surrounding airspace must stop when Air Force One or Marine One is approaching/departing. It's usually a wide buffer zone around the time of arrival, during this time and before the Secret Service calls the shots. Air Force One and Marine One is pretty high on the ATC priority list, the only thing that trumps them is a "Lifeguard" flight.

patrick February 7, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Reminds of a story when Clinton was president. He flew into LAX and before he left he decided he need a haircut ON the plane from some local L.A. "hair cutter" Tied up LAX for an inordinate amount of time.

Arun Baheti February 7, 2013 at 01:14 pm

This is standard practice for all presidents. Nothing unique about Obama. I've been inconvenienced by Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama (and all the opposing candidates during elections) at LAX and on the roads in Los Angeles. I've seen cases where a president lands and takes a helicopter, lands and drives, lands at LAX, lands at a base, etc.

I seriously doubt the administration picks the specific airports as the Air Force and Secret Service manage travel. When working for elected officials, I've worked with the Secret Service before and they try to balance safety with road impact and time of exposure on the road as well. And we were never allowed to question the Secret Service decisions, just tell them when the official had to be where. Landing further from the event means road closures (and prolonged time as an exposed target) all the way from the landing to the event.


A. S. February 7, 2013 at 02:43 pm

Isn't it more probably that the President (this or any other one) has nothing to do with the choice of airport and that rather it's chosen by a) Secret Service (for security purposes -- as in having been able to secure the roads to/from, and/or b) the President's "handlers," based on distance to/from an event and how tight the schedule is? I'm sure that the President can override whatever choice if he wanted to, but I get the feeling that he'd do so on an exception basis rather than actually choosing every single trip's airport.

Wendy February 7, 2013 at 03:46 pm

Just be glad you were not at Cleveland Hopkins International airport the day before the election last november. Flights were delayed for 3 planes to land. The planes were Joe Biden's, Mitt Romney's and Ryan's.

BR February 7, 2013 at 04:19 pm

I doubt he's involved in the decision of which airport he flies into. Also, I don't think there's any hard evidence to show he flies into commercial airports vs. military airports more than other presidents. However, the reason might be so he can greet people while walking off the plane.

Chris February 7, 2013 at 05:21 pm

I was delayed twice on intercontinental trips out of ORD because of Bush. The second one, we had even taxiied away from our gate before everything came to a screeching halt. I looked out the window, saw that nothing was moving, and then saw Air Force One. I then cursed quitely to myself and took a 45 minute nap.

I've yet to get delayed by Obama, even though ORD is my home airport. Bottom line, I think that you just ran into some bad luck.

Double-bottom line: The Union doesn't have as many giant secondary airports that can handle a 747, while the Rebel states do. So a President from the Union will have to fly into commercial airports more often.

Triple-bottom line: They've also looked into using Gary Airport because it's closer to the President's house. They'd need to use the 757 instead ofthe 747, and it still wouldn't be a great idea.

Quadruple-bottom line: Though I haven't been delayed by Obama's plane yet, I have been delayed by his motorcade. The "elite of the elite" would insist on a helicopter.

Ray February 7, 2013 at 07:46 pm

Assumption being that President Obama decides the airports to use?

Jiml February 7, 2013 at 10:32 pm

This has happened lots with many presidents. One of the more infamous incidents was when the barber was cutting Clinton's hair in the airplane at lax and they closed everything during the haircut.

UnitedEF February 8, 2013 at 10:11 am

I remember on my SFO-ICN flight a couple years ago there was a 45 minute ground stop because he was taking off. Every time the guy flies into LA traffic is a mess! Not the best way to get people to donate to your campaign.

PH February 8, 2013 at 12:43 pm

To claim that this article isn't political given the last few sentences is unreasonable.

ptahcha February 9, 2013 at 01:37 am

W's Air Force One is frequently seen at IAH.