Air Force One has one of the most complex food storage systems in travel, and those refrigerators won’t pay for themselves. So, to pay for all the food on the Presidential plane, everyone who travels on it gets a bill–even if they only have a bag of peanuts.
“There’s no free ride in the government,” former Trump administration official Omarosa Manigault Wednesday night, describing what it’s like to fly on Air Force One.
“You pay for the food,” she said. “I got a bill, and it was, like, $23 and I was like, ‘I didn’t even eat anything.’ So I called the military aide and was like, ‘Why am I getting a bill?’ and he’s like, ‘Well, if you even consume the snacks, you get a flat fee.’”
Reid Cherlin revealed this as well in a 2012 New York Magazine article.”It is a curious fact of White House life that when flying on the Big Bird—a conveyance whose $180,000-per-hour bill is footed by the taxpayer when the plane is on official business—travelers do not get free meals,” he wrote.
The State Department paid for hospitality bills only on foreign flights. On domestic flights, staffers have to pay their own way, even if they are traveling with the President on official government business. And as Omarosa said, they have to pay about $20 for food, each way, even if they aren’t eating anything.
At least the meals are tasty. Air Force One is known for serving fancier meals like beef tenderloin, as well as whatever the president wants. So, if you’re on Air Force One, it’s better just to eat. You’re paying for the meal either way.