Average Family Summer Travel Cost, $4,580 – Obamas’ Flight From Orlando to Mass., $359,500

Penny Starr | August 16, 2013 | 4:11pm EDT
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President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama. (AP)

(CNSNews.com) –The average American family of four will spend $4,580 on vacation travel this summer while the Obamas will spend about $359,000 in air travel alone to get to Cape Cod, enroute to Martha's Vineyard for their vacation -- and that's just the one-way flight.

According to American Express' 2013 survey on summer vacation travel, the average expense per person in the United States is $1,145, or $4,580 for a family of four. For contrast, the cost of flying President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama from Orlando, Fla. to Massachusetts on Aug. 10 was $359,000.

That cost estimate is based upon a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report that puts the price of operating Air Force One at $179,750 an hour.

The $359,000 is only for the flight from Orlando to the Coast Guard Air Station on Cape Cod -- it does not include the cost of flying the Obamas aboard the helicopter Marine One from Cape Cod to the island Martha’s Vineyard.

According the Martha’s Vineyard Times, based on press pool reports, the president and first lady boarded Air Force One on Saturday, Aug. 10 in Orlando at 1:20 p.m. and arrived at Coast Guard Air Station Cape Code in Massachusetts at 3:24 p.m. The couple was then transported by helicopter and motorcade to the $7.6 million home they rented for their 8-day stay.

Air Force One. (AP)

The pool report noted that daughters Malia, 15, and Sasha, 12, did not travel with their parents to Massachusetts. No other details were provided.

The CRS report summary states that “for security and other reasons, the President, Vice President, and First Lady use military aircraft when they travel.”

“The White House generally categorizes the trips as fulfilling either official or political functions,” the report states. “Often, a trip involves both official and political, or unofficial, activities.”

“When a trip is for an official function, the government pays all costs, including per diem (food and lodging), car rentals, and other incidental expenses,” the report states.  “When a trip is for political or unofficial purposes, those involved must pay for their own food and lodging and other related expenses, and they must also reimburse the government with the equivalent of the airfare that they would have paid had they used a commercial airline.”

Marine One helicopter. (AP)

“When a trip involves both official and political activities, a formula determines the amount to be reimbursed for that part of the trip involving political activities,” the report states. “Whether a trip is for official or political purposes, the Air Force pays all operational and other costs incurred by the use of the aircraft.”

“While the travel policies of specific administrations concerning the reimbursement of expenses for unofficial travel generally are not publicly available, it appears that policy guidelines developed by the Reagan White House have served as a basis for the travel policies of subsequent Administrations,” the report states.

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