Barack Obama's new campaign plane is nothing short of grand. Well, for the candidate that is.
Obama's section of the plane rivals that of any first class. Recently the front cabin of the Boeing 757 was retrofitted to install four individual chairs that resemble La-Z-Boys. They are free-standing and made of plush leather with pockets on the sides. There is also a booth which seats four for a meeting or a meal.
His chair has his name and campaign logo embroidered on the back top -- "Obama '08" on one line and "President" underneath. To one side is a small table stacked with newspapers ready for the candidate's arrival. The table of the booth is always covered in snacks and cheese and is where Obama spends most of his time during flights meeting with staff and sitting for the occasional interview.
"Typically the candidate's cabin is like business class -- roomier and less chaotic than the staff and press areas, but still short of the accoutrements of a pro team's charter," says Politico's Mike Allen, a frequent campaign flier.
After looking at a few photos of Obama's cabin, Allen quipped, "Air Force One may seem a tad claustrophobic." Check it out for yourself:
There are five sections on the 757, the first of which is Obama's section, which can seat up to eight people at a time, although rarely are all eight seats taken. Depending on the destination or length of trip, Sen. Obama is joined by body man Reggie Love and a few senior staff members or perhaps a key Senate colleague. Recently, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., hitched a ride from Washington, D.C., to her home state for a full day of campaign events.
The next two sections are outfitted with expansive business class seats for senior and junior level staff including Obama's media team, which films all of the candidate's events for promotional purposes.
The back two sections are traditional coach seats where the Secret Service, reporters, cameramen and some of the communications staff sit. It is a rite of passage each election cycle for the party's nominee to retrofit an aircraft to distinct specifications. While the campaign pays for their share of the plane, the news media also pay thousands of dollars to fly with Obama for each leg of his campaign.
CBS News' John Bentley, who's covering the John McCain campaign, reports that McCain flies in a slightly smaller Boeing 737, which has four compartments: the first class area, where he sits; the "straight talk" area for interviews; a business class section for staffers; and the back of the plane, where the press and secret service sit.
In McCain's spacious first class area, there are 12 plush leather seats for the candidate, his wife and senior staffers. The "straight talk" area features a long leather bench and another first class seat which McCain sits in when he talks to the press – or would, if he used the area.
Since they acquired the plane with its specially modified area, McCain has spoken to the press there precisely once, over a month ago. All of these sections are separated by curtains, which are always shut as tightly as possible as soon as the plane takes off in order to keep the different sections of the plane from interacting with each other.