The 12-person crew was not able to accommodate the president due to strict federal guidelines requiring all passengers to arrive at their departure gate 15 minutes prior to takeoff?guidelines flight officials say are especially important considering heightened security around the president. When Bush inquired into the possibility of being placed on standby for Air Force Two, the exasperated commander in chief was informed that the flight was full and Vice President Dick Cheney was unwilling to give up his seat.
Morganson was able to offer the president a standby seat on an affiliate airline's 3 p.m. flight to Reno, though Bush said he failed to see "how that helps [him] in the slightest." After concluding a "pointless talk" with desk personnel at Gate 14, Bush took questions in the air-base food court, where he denounced the airline's actions.
"This is so typical," said Bush while eating a $9 chicken-Caesar-salad wrap. "Of course, they had all the time in the world to check my bags and they told me I'd be all set, but all of a sudden, I'm not allowed on the plane. Now my biggest suitcase is halfway to who-knows-where and I'm stuck in this stupid airport. Don't these people ever communicate with each other?" said Bush, who refused an offer to put him up at a nearby Radisson Hotel for the evening.
Bush, who describes himself as a "perpetual traveler" who had exclusively used Air Force One for both work and his frequent vacations, said he will begin looking into other carriers.
"They just lost their best customer," said Bush after purchasing a Robin Cook novel and settling in at Runway Café. "I remember when Air Force One used to care about customer service. Now it's all about their bottom line."