The White House said Monday that taxpayers paid for first lady Michelle Obama and President Obama to fly on separate planes to Los Angeles on the same day last week because they were traveling to “different airports” on slightly different schedules.
“They flew into different airports,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest. “It’s also my understanding that the first lady actually left to get back to Washington, D.C., before the president even arrived in California.”
Mr. Obama flew to Los Angeles International airport last Thursday on Air Force One, arriving around 4 p.m. local time for an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”
Mrs. Obama, meanwhile, flew across country on a different plane earlier in the day to Burbank, California, to tape an appearance on Ellen DeGeneres’ show.
The two airports are about 28 miles apart.
Mr. Earnest said the president’s and first lady’s “itineraries didn’t link up.” He added that Mr. Obama stayed overnight in Los Angeles and flew the next day to Phoenix to visit a Veterans Affairs hospital before returning to Washington.
Asked if the first couple could have arranged their schedules better to save taxpayers’ money, Mr. Earnest replied, “I do feel confident in saying that if it’d been possible for them to travel together, I’m sure that’s what they would have preferred to do.”