Take a look inside Air Force Two, the 155-foot jet plane vice presidents use to travel the world

·4 min read
Vice President Kamala Harris disembarks Air Force Two
Vice President Kamala Harris disembarks Air Force Two.Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson
  • Vice presidents started traveling by plane via Air Force Two in 1959.

  • Vice President Kamala Harris flies in a C-32, a custom military version of a commercial jetliner.

  • It features a communications center, stateroom, and 32 seats for journalists.

Any plane carrying the US vice president is called "Air Force Two."

Air Force Two
Air Force Two in 2019.BERTRAND GUAY/AFP via Getty Images

Similar to the president aboard "Air Force One," the designation of "Air Force Two" refers to any plane carrying the vice president, not a specific jet or model.

Over the years, several different planes have carried the Air Force Two title, transporting vice presidents and their staff around the world. The most commonly-used jet today is a C-32, a customized military version of a commercial Boeing 757-200 plane.

The vice president is generally prohibited from flying on "Air Force One," a plane carrying the president.

Vice President Kamala Harris disembarks Air Force Two
Vice President Kamala Harris disembarks Air Force Two.Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

The president and vice president don't travel together for security reasons, according to The New York Times.

It's customary for presidents and vice presidents to salute service members as they board and disembark presidential planes.

Vice President Kamala Harris salutes as she disembarks Air Force Two
Vice President Kamala Harris salutes as she disembarks Air Force Two in 2021.Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

Service members are required to salute the president as commander-in-chief, but not the vice president, according to AP. Still, it's customary for troops to salute vice presidents, as well.

Richard Nixon was the first vice president to travel internationally via jet on official business, visiting what was then the USSR in 1959.

Vice President Richard Nixon on Air Force Two in 1959
Vice President Richard Nixon flies to the USSR in 1959.Thomas J O'Halloran/US News & World Report Collection/PhotoQuest/Getty Images

Nixon, who served as President Dwight D. Eisenhower's vice president, flew on a Boeing VC-137A Stratoliner to visit the USSR in 1959.

Beginning with the Ford administration in 1975, this DC-9 jet flew as Air Force Two until 2005.

The cockpit of Air Force Two, retired during the Bush administration
A retired DC-9 that was part of the presidential fleet.Matt York/AP

The jet was first used by President Gerald Ford's vice president, Nelson Rockefeller.

It featured a VIP cabin with 10 seats and a main cabin with 32 first-class seats.

Seats on Air Force Two
The VIP cabin in a retired DC-9 that served as Air Force Two.Matt York/AP

The plane was retired from service during the Bush administration in 2005 and placed up for auction by the General Services Administration in 2013, according to USA TODAY.

Vice President Al Gore decorated the VIP cabin with family photos.

Al and Tipper Gore on Air Force Two
Vice President Al Gore on Air Force Two in 2000.LUKE FRAZZA/AFP via Getty Images

Gore worked on his acceptance speech for the 2000 Democratic National Convention aboard Air Force Two.

The cabin also featured a clock with different time zone displays.

A clock with Washington and destination time zones on Air Force Two
A clock inside Air Force Two.Matt York/AP

The clock featured the time in Washington, DC, and whatever destination Air Force Two was bound for.

Vice President Joe Biden hung a map of the world in his Air Force Two work area.

Vice President Joe Biden works on Air Force Two
Vice President Joe Biden works with senior staff on Air Force Two in 2009.Charles Ommanney/Edit by Getty Images

Biden traveled over one million miles on Air Force Two during his time as vice president. The updated C-32 plane featured a communications center and private stateroom with a fold-out bed.

Vice President Mike Pence's staff decorated Air Force Two for his birthday in 2017.

Mike Pence celebrates his birthday on Air Force Two, decorated with balloons and streamers
Mike Pence celebrates his birthday on Air Force Two in 2017.@VP45/Twitter

Staffers celebrated the vice president's birthday with streamers and balloons aboard the jet.

Vice President Kamala Harris also celebrated birthdays on the plane.

Kamala Harris holds a birthday cake for a staff member on Air Force Two
Vice President Kamala Harris joins staff in celebrating a staff member's birthday in 2021.Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

Harris brought cupcakes and sang "Happy Birthday" to her domestic policy advisor Kate Childs Graham in 2021.

Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff travels aboard Air Force Two, as well.

Doug Emhoff on Air Force Two
Second Gentleman aboard Air Force Two.Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

Emhoff filled out his March Madness basketball bracket en route to Las Vegas in March 2021.

The back of Air Force Two contains 32 business-class seats for members of the press.

Kamala Harris speaks to reporters on Air Force Two
Vice President Kamala Harris walks to address the news media on board Air Force Two.RONDA CHURCHILL/AFP via Getty Images

Vice presidents and staff occasionally hold informal briefings with reporters known as "press gaggles" aboard Air Force Two.

The press area features TV screens that can play cable news.

Vice President Kamala Harris walks down the aisle on Air Force Two
Vice President Kamala Harris walks away after speaking to the press aboard Air Force Two.Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The rear cabin also contains a galley, two bathrooms, and closets.

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