- Political officials who fly on Air Force One have to pay for their own food — even if they don't eat anything.
- Former Trump administration official Omarosa Manigault recently revealed this fact on an episode of "Celebrity Big Brother."
- Manigault once received a $23 bill after a flight.
"There's no free ride in the government."
So says former Trump administration official Omarosa Manigault. On an episode of "Celebrity Big Brother," Manigault revealed what it was like to fly Air Force One.
"You pay for the food," she told co-stars Ross Mathews, Marissa Jaret Winokur, and James Maslow on Wednesday's episode of the CBS show.
Manigault went on: "I got a bill and it was, like, $23 dollars 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 recounted the same discovery 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."
Cherlin reported that the State Department paid the hospitality bill on foreign flights and Obama for America paid on campaign trips — but on domestic flights, staffers were responsible for paying themselves. He also learned that the White House Travel Office decides what meals are served aboard Air Force One, and that each leg of travel costs passengers roughly $20 for food.
Air Force One is known for serving elaborate meals, according to ABC News, including beef tenderloin. The president can request anything he wants, even if it's not listed on the menu. The Air Force One jet must be able to carry up to 3,000 meals at a time, Business Insider's Christopher Woody reported.
Recently, the cost of maintaining Air Force One has been a source of controversy, Woody reported. In December 2016, President Donald Trump criticized the high cost of replacing the aircraft that had served as the presidential jets since 1990. As a result, the Air Force bought two Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental airliners and converted them to serve as Air Force One.
Nonetheless, in December 2017, the Air Force gave Boeing a contract to replace two refrigerators on Air Force One for a whopping $23,657,671.
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