U.S. Secret Service protection, motorcades and helicopter transports were extra for the estimated 2 1/2 hours Obama was expected to be in the Windy City, the Chicago Tribune reported.
A 2000 Government Accounting Office report showed Air Force One cost $54,100 to operate each flight hour, or roughly $67,000 in today's dollars, the Tribune reported, adding that a true cost is tough to estimate because of so many variable and costs that could either be included or excluded.
Security and communications requirements make the huge tab largely unavoidable, White House aides said. The government picks up the cost because he is always the commander in chief and might be pulled into a crisis. Some limited cost-sharing is done if the president travels to a political event, such as a fundraiser.
"The White House is committed to following all of the relevant rules and regulations regarding the reimbursement for travel expenses," spokesman Tommy Vietor told the Tribune.
The media pool traveling with Obama on Air Force One for government and political trips reimburses the government for the cost of seats.
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