Joe Biden using smaller stairs to board Air Force One after string of stumbles


Joe Biden has started using shorter steps to board Air Force One after a string of embarrassing stumbles while boarding the presidential plane.

The US president has traditionally used the 26 steps at the front of the presidential plane to board Air Force One, however, he is increasingly using a shorter set that retracts into the belly of the aircraft.

Mr Biden used the smaller stairs to board the aircraft for every flight on his recent trip to Europe which included journeys to London, Vilnius, Helsinki and back to Washington.

Nevertheless, Mr Biden still stumbled halfway up the shorter steps ahead of a flight from Helsinki last week after meeting Nordic leaders.

Although it is not unheard of for presidents to use the shorter 14 steps, they are usually reserved for adverse weather.

Two of Mr Biden’s advisers told Politico the longer steps were being avoided in order to limit the possibility of stumbles and make travel easier for the octogenarian president.

On a 2021 trip to Atlanta, Mr Biden repeatedly fell over as he attempted to run up the stairs, to his plane. Earlier this year, he also tripped as he boarded Air Force One in Warsaw.

Mr Biden has widely used the smaller steps on domestic trips to and from Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Rocky Mount.

A White House official told Politico: “There are a series of factors that go into the logistical decision-making on this.

This includes “weather, what kind of airport we’re landing at and whether there is a formal greeting planned for the tarmac where we expect that press will want an official photo at the bottom of the tall stairs.”

The official added: “There’s not one hard and fast rule – it is a decision made on a variety of factors in a wide range of settings and circumstances.”

In 1975, 61-year-old Gerald Ford was repeatedly mocked as “Klutz in Chief” when he fell down the final few Air Force One steps on a visit to Austria.