Presidential travel is categorized as official, political or unofficial, depending on the trip purpose. If it is part of the president’s official duties, then the government pays all costs, including food, lodging, car rentals and other incidental expenses. If it is political or unofficial, food, lodging and other related expenses are paid for by those who are making the trip, or by political organizations. Presidential travel often involves a mix of official, political and/or unofficial activities.
The cost of operating Air Force One is about $200,000 per hour, according to Air Force data obtained by Judicial Watch, a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, through a Freedom of Information Act request. The Congressional Research Service states, “For security and other reasons, the president, vice president and first lady use military aircraft when they travel.” That means the Air Force will pay all operational and other costs involved in the use of the aircraft.