President Biden has served in elected office for almost four decades. He has interacted with nine presidents. He is accustomed to staff waiting on him, traveling by motorcade, and he learned his way around the Oval Office and the mazelike layout of the West Wing from his eight years as vice president.
“It feels like I am going home,” Mr. Biden said on Inauguration Day, as he approached the White House along the parade route.
But not all of the accouterments of power are old hat for the president. When he flies on Air Force One on Friday afternoon to go home to Wilmington, Del., for the weekend, it will be his first flight aboard the presidential jet in more than two decades, according to more than half a dozen administration officials and former Biden aides.
It is possible Mr. Biden may ride on Air Force One on Friday afternoon but not the one that has so delighted his predecessors. It may be called Air Force One — the radio call sign given to any plane that happens to carry the president — but it is a Boeing 757-200, a smaller, narrow-body jet airliner used for smaller airports, such as the one in Wilmington.
In which case the trip that has typically left the commander in chief, whoever he is, giddy and gawking at his new perk will have to be postponed.
“It’s a sight to behold,” said John Podesta, a former White House chief of staff to Mr. Clinton, said of watching the plane land. “When the president walks down those steps, you feel the power of that. He will feel the power of that. It’s a little different from the 757.”
As President Barack Obama’s vice president, Mr. Biden was prohibited from flying on the Boeing VC-25 that is commonly known as Air Force One. For security reasons, the vice president and the president never fly together. Air Force Two — the radio call sign for the vice president’s plane — is most often a Boeing 757, a smaller, much more cramped and much more modest plane.
Despite his decades in public office, the only trip aboard Air Force One that anyone in the White House or Mr. Biden’s circle can recall him taking was in the summer of 2000. Mr. Biden traveled to Colombia as part of a delegation with President Bill Clinton, helping unveil an emergency aid program to fight the narcotics trade and prop up the country’s democracy.