Stealing Joe Biden's Pillowcases: Air Force One Warns Journalists to Keep Hands Off POTUS' Belongings

By Leira Aquino

Mar 31, 2024 11:28 PM EDT

Joe Biden-Air Force One-White House Press Corps
White House reporters traveling with US President Joe Biden have been warned to stop pilfering items from the president's official plane.
(Photo : BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Journalists traveling with United States President Joe Biden were told to refrain from stealing from Air Force One, the president's official aircraft, following an alarming inventory check revealing missing items.

The White House Correspondents' Association issued last month a warning to its members through an email, urging them to stop pilfering items from the press section of Air Force One as souvenirs, Politico reported

White House Correspondents Warned Against Pilfering Souvenirs

In the email, Kelly O'Donnell, the president of the White House Correspondents' Association, emphasized that such actions reflected poorly on the press corps as a whole.

This directive followed an inventory check conducted by the Air Force crew, who serve passengers aboard the plane, after the trip. On February 5, they notified the White House Travel Office that several items were missing from the press cabin.

Journalists accompanying the president, totaling 13 individuals, are provided the opportunity to fly onboard Air Force One during official trips, with media outlets covering their travel expenses, as well as the cost of meals and beverages served during flights, according to News18.

While small packages of M&M's chocolates adorned with the presidential seal are distributed as mementos, it appears that some journalists have been helping themselves to additional items, including branded pillowcases, glasses, and gold-rimmed plates.

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Investigation Reveals Long-Standing Practice of Stealing Air Force One Souvenirs

The report from Politico suggests that this behavior has been ongoing for years, with journalists discreetly pocketing items with the Air Force One insignia after each flight.

"For years, scores of journalists - and others - have quietly stuffed everything from engraved whiskey tumblers to wine glasses to pretty much anything with the Air Force One insignia on it into their bag before stepping off the plane," Politico detailed.

A journalist informed the news outlet that on their initial flight aboard Air Force One, they were encouraged by a fellow  reporter to take a glass, with the reassurance that "everyone does it."

Despite the availability of these items for purchase online, some individuals have opted to take them without permission.

According to Politico, after a recent trip, a press wrangler sent an email to all members of the press pool offering assistance for the return of any items taken from the plane. The email aimed to facilitate the quiet return of inadvertently taken items and was not accusatory. 

One recipient, who had taken an Air Force One embroidered pillowcase, admitted to it and arranged for its discreet return with the assistance offered

While no specific individuals have been named or punished for the theft, it is expected that stricter measures will be implemented to address this issue going forward.

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