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ClassicLover
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Flying British Airways Club Europe with Hillary Clinton randomly sitting behind me was interesting!

Sat Jul 06, 2019 5:33 pm

For all the pictures that go with this report, please click here.

After finishing my Masters Degree in Air Transport Management, it was time to head over for graduation. I booked flights from Dublin to London City, as it is the easiest airport when it comes to getting the train off to Cranfield University. A week or so before the flight, I took the upgrade offer for €85 which had been looking at me for weeks, so I was to fly in Club Europe.

Nothing seemed unusual at the airport and I had no idea where Hillary Clinton was. I mean, I don't exactly follow her movements around the world. It turns out she was in Dublin (who knows why) and needed to go to London (again, no idea why). This is the story of the interesting goings on when it comes to transporting a VIP, her entourage and some secret service types.

Since security is a big deal for former leaders of the USA, there is a thing called the Former Presidents Act, giving benefits such as secret service details to former Presidents and their families. This means that Hillary Clinton, as a former First Lady, also has this kind of thing. So, what happens when these people travel on a normal scheduled flight?

In Dublin, we commenced boarding and were held at the top of the stairs leading to ground level. As I was first in line, I observed lots of people in high visibility vests milling around near the stairs to our aircraft. Eventually a car arrived and four men with suitcases boarded. “Oh, VIPs today,” I thought to myself. After a little while, we were permitted to board. I headed up the front stairs and sat down and soon enough everyone was on board. I asked the lady beside me to let me out as I planned to move to one of the free seats. For once, I mentioned it to cabin crew and she said that boarding wasn’t complete yet. It sure looked complete to me!

More time passed with nothing going on, and then two of the Dublin Airport Platinum Services cars arrive. A bunch of people get out and start fussing about with carry-on bags and what not and I note a lady in black, with THOSE sunglasses on, looked a lot like Hillary Clinton.

Image

Turns out it was the former First Lady, travelling with quite a decent entourage. Why she was in Dublin, I have no idea, nor do I know why she was off to London. Either way, she was going to be on my flight.

BA4465 – Dublin to London City (DUB-LCY)
27 June 2019
Embraer 170 – G-LCYE
Seat: Club Europe 3A
Departure: 10:55 Arrival: 12:30


There was much fussing once on board because they had arrived last which meant there was little space in the overhead lockers. Hillary Clinton’s bag ended up in the hold. So much for the VIP service! Eventually they sat down, with the lady of the moment sitting right behind me in 4A. Beside her was her PA, across the aisle two other people, and across the aisle from me was a secret service dude, complete with ear piece. Plus they had another one or two people scattered around the Club Europe cabin. The four people who boarded first were down the back.

With the VIPs loaded, the doors closed and we headed off to the runway, running something like 45 minutes behind schedule. The safety demonstration was given and we were in the air in short order. First item of business once flying was the hot towel service.

Image

I noted that the lead crew member asked the secret service guy something and Hillary Clinton was not offered a hot towel. Anyway, next up we were offered lunch, which was a choice between a chicken dish and a prawn dish. I selected the latter.

Image

Happily I was also offered a scone to go with the jam and cream on the tray, which I far prefer to being given bread. The main was definitely delicious with the tart lime working well with the flavours of the prawns and noodles. Dessert was excellent and the scone… mmmm! I am a sucker for those!

What about Hillary? Considering she was directly behind me, I couldn’t see what was going on. However, I got the impression she was asleep, because her PA person next to her refused the meal tray initially, but eventually took it after much hushed chit chat. Once the trays were cleared, I headed to the bathroom.

Image

On the way back, I wryly remarked to the lead crew member, “I see why I couldn’t move seats now!” to which she laughed and agreed. Friends advised taking a selfie in my seat with Mrs Clinton, but honestly, that would have been some mission! We landed in London City and the secret service guy made sure we all got off the plane first.

All of that said, it was a total fail of mine to not get pictures. It didn’t really occur to me, and I wasn’t sure it was Hillary Clinton until she was actually on board. I’m not sure how pleased I would have been to have used the VIP services, then boarded last and had my carry on put into the hold. But, that’s a problem for someone else to worry about!

British Airways Club Europe is a good product, with pretty decent food, charred lime notwithstanding. The fact scones were provided is a big plus as far as I am concerned, plus they don’t skimp with the Champagne either.

Have you ever flown with a VIP that had a secret service detail before? Who was it and what was it like? What do you think of Club Europe on British Airways? Thanks for reading, remember for all the pictures please click here, and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
I do enjoy a spot of flying, especially when it's not in economy!
 
outbackair
Posts: 155
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2005 6:01 pm

Re: Flying British Airways Club Europe with Hillary Clinton randomly sitting behind me was interesting!

Sun Jul 07, 2019 1:34 am

Not fly, but my family sailed by ship in 1969 from Nigeria to England. At Monrovia, President Tubman of Liberia joined the ship and as my parents were in First Class, they got to meet him.

I did fly Bulawayo to Harare in an Air Zimbabwe 737-200 with then Vice-President Joshua Nkomo. He was so big he had to have the belt extension normally reserved for pregnant women. He made a huge joke about it with all the pax nearby.
 
cwa2toa
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Re: Flying British Airways Club Europe with Hillary Clinton randomly sitting behind me was interesting!

Tue Jul 09, 2019 9:53 pm

In the early 70's my mom and I were flying from LAX to JFK to London for a long girls weekend. We were flying 1st Class ex JFK on a TWA 707 and Richard Helms, who was the former head of the CIA and then ambassador to Iran, was seated behind us. The FA's were making sure he had the top flight service, and apologized to him for the caviar, which they assured him wasn't nearly as good as the Iranian caviar he was used to. Once landed, he was whisked off with a security detail and off to who knows where.
I've flown with a lot of celebrities in my younger days, but he was the only politician.
We’ll pick a star
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and search the world
for the sights you long to see.
Your heart is young,
you’re alive, so come with me.

TWA, up, up, and away!
:airplane:
 
brucetiki
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Re: Flying British Airways Club Europe with Hillary Clinton randomly sitting behind me was interesting!

Wed Jul 10, 2019 1:21 am

Closest I've seen was a mate who happened to be on the same flight as former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

I was picking up my mate from the airport, and safe to say it was quite the opposite to the Hilary Clinton experience you had when she disembarked. Being at the pointy end, she was one of the first off, but there was no entourage, no special VIP exit. It was just her PA and herself, and she disembarked and went through the terminal just like any other passenger. This was roughly 12 months after she got knifed as PM, and her subsequent retirement from politics.
The early bird catches the worm, the late bird will be featured on a You Tube video
 
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ClassicLover
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Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2004 12:27 pm

Re: Flying British Airways Club Europe with Hillary Clinton randomly sitting behind me was interesting!

Thu Jul 11, 2019 4:41 pm

cwa2toa wrote:
In the early 70's my mom and I were flying from LAX to JFK to London for a long girls weekend. We were flying 1st Class ex JFK on a TWA 707 and Richard Helms, who was the former head of the CIA and then ambassador to Iran, was seated behind us. The FA's were making sure he had the top flight service, and apologized to him for the caviar, which they assured him wasn't nearly as good as the Iranian caviar he was used to. Once landed, he was whisked off with a security detail and off to who knows where.
I've flown with a lot of celebrities in my younger days, but he was the only politician.


Wow, I wonder if that's one of the few occasions that the crew have apologised for the caviar! It's something you almost never get these days unless flying first class and then only on certain airlines. Sounds like some experience! Also, you got to fly first class on a TWA Boeing 707 which must have really been something. I'm not jealous at all ;)

brucetiki wrote:
Closest I've seen was a mate who happened to be on the same flight as former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

I was picking up my mate from the airport, and safe to say it was quite the opposite to the Hilary Clinton experience you had when she disembarked. Being at the pointy end, she was one of the first off, but there was no entourage, no special VIP exit. It was just her PA and herself, and she disembarked and went through the terminal just like any other passenger. This was roughly 12 months after she got knifed as PM, and her subsequent retirement from politics.


Sounds like an altogether calmer experience than Hillary Clinton. Australian politics has been interesting to watch from afar over the past number of years. Interesting you got to see Julia. Thanks for that! Always good to hear another story.
I do enjoy a spot of flying, especially when it's not in economy!
 
EI121
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Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2015 9:14 pm

Re: Flying British Airways Club Europe with Hillary Clinton randomly sitting behind me was interesting!

Sun Jul 21, 2019 3:31 pm

Thanks Classic Lover! Always enjoy your trip reports.

Quick question. I was under the impression Luton was the closest airport to Cranfield, especially since you were coming from DUB. LCY seems very out of the way.

Cheers,
EI121
 
Ryanair01
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Joined: Fri Dec 27, 2013 9:27 pm

Re: Flying British Airways Club Europe with Hillary Clinton randomly sitting behind me was interesting!

Sun Jul 21, 2019 8:29 pm

I did create an interesting blend of secret service personnel on the ramp 'back in the day'. I wasn't paying much attention and accidentally allocated Saudia Royal Flight (the king's wives) and El Al neighboring gates. The Saudis didn't care, but the Israeli officials were somewhat threatening.

I should have been paying more attention. Luckily Saudia insisted on a jetway (the wives were somewhat elderly and not able to handle stairs) and I allocated the only spare 747 capable gate. So I couldn't have done anything different without 'insulting' El Al by moving them for the Saudi Royals, an argument El Al had no answer to. Fun and games. No wonder I changed my career direction!
 
opticalilyushin
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Re: Flying British Airways Club Europe with Hillary Clinton randomly sitting behind me was interesting!

Tue Jul 23, 2019 11:08 am

Personally no, but a few years my friend (an avgeek, of course) was on a flight, seated with most passengers down the back. During the flight he walked up front to get some pics out of the windows. There was one person up front who my friend sat next to in order to get the perfect view. It turned out to either be the PM or President of Iceland, who was happy to oblige :)
 
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Domthepax
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Re: Flying British Airways Club Europe with Hillary Clinton randomly sitting behind me was interesting!

Wed Jul 24, 2019 12:49 pm

Ryanair01 wrote:
I did create an interesting blend of secret service personnel on the ramp 'back in the day'. I wasn't paying much attention and accidentally allocated Saudia Royal Flight (the king's wives) and El Al neighboring gates. The Saudis didn't care, but the Israeli officials were somewhat threatening.

I should have been paying more attention. Luckily Saudia insisted on a jetway (the wives were somewhat elderly and not able to handle stairs) and I allocated the only spare 747 capable gate. So I couldn't have done anything different without 'insulting' El Al by moving them for the Saudi Royals, an argument El Al had no answer to. Fun and games. No wonder I changed my career direction!


I love this story, this all sounds like a scene from a movie :D
 
CairnterriAIR
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Re: Flying British Airways Club Europe with Hillary Clinton randomly sitting behind me was interesting!

Sun Aug 18, 2019 3:20 pm

I was a passenger once on a flight with President Jimmy Carter aboard....many years after he left office. At the end of the flight he disembarked first (he was seated in 1A) and stayed in the jetway greeting and shaking hands with everybody else as they left the aircraft. Very gracious and respectful man.
 
cedarjet
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Re: Flying British Airways Club Europe with Hillary Clinton randomly sitting behind me was interesting!

Fri Feb 07, 2020 5:26 pm

I was on a BA 747 from JFK to LHR in Club World with the president of Georgia. I know it sounds odd and I’ve thought about it since and wondered if I misunderstood but when I went to the cockpit to say hello and thanks to the pilots after landing, I said to the captain about the president being onboard and he said he’d just found out, and seemed very surprised by the whole thing. There’d been a few earpiece-and-sleeve guys at the gate, and a couple of bodyguards onboard, so how the captain didn’t know until airborne or even after landing seems impossible. All I can think is that there was no paper trail for security reasons.

CairnterriAIR wrote:
I was a passenger once on a flight with President Jimmy Carter aboard....many years after he left office. At the end of the flight he disembarked first (he was seated in 1A) and stayed in the jetway greeting and shaking hands with everybody else as they left the aircraft. Very gracious and respectful man.

I’ve heard a few stories of Carter flying commercial and going through the whole aeroplane to shake everyone’s hand. Agreed one of America’s greatest statesmen.
fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
 
DC10LAXJFK
Posts: 27
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Re: Flying British Airways Club Europe with Hillary Clinton randomly sitting behind me was interesting!

Sun Feb 09, 2020 2:52 am

cedarjet wrote:
I was on a BA 747 from JFK to LHR in Club World with the president of Georgia. I know it sounds odd and I’ve thought about it since and wondered if I misunderstood but when I went to the cockpit to say hello and thanks to the pilots after landing, I said to the captain about the president being onboard and he said he’d just found out, and seemed very surprised by the whole thing. There’d been a few earpiece-and-sleeve guys at the gate, and a couple of bodyguards onboard, so how the captain didn’t know until airborne or even after landing seems impossible. All I can think is that there was no paper trail for security reasons.

CairnterriAIR wrote:
I was a passenger once on a flight with President Jimmy Carter aboard....many years after he left office. At the end of the flight he disembarked first (he was seated in 1A) and stayed in the jetway greeting and shaking hands with everybody else as they left the aircraft. Very gracious and respectful man.

I’ve heard a few stories of Carter flying commercial and going through the whole aeroplane to shake everyone’s hand. Agreed one of America’s greatest statesmen.


I was on one of those Jimmy Carter walking the plane flights back in late 1980's or early 1990's. JFK-LAX. I was in F in center left seat on AA DC10 (of course), probably row 2 or 3. He was in last row of F on right side window seat, with Secret Service next to him (earpiece and pin gave it away). We had a delayed boarding while there was a lot of scurrying in and around the departure doors. Finally when we boarded, he was already seated.

He was heading to speak at a Conference in Santa Barbara if I recall. As he was leaving the restroom at the front of the plane and heading back down the aisle, I was reading the Wall Street Journal, and right as he passed me, I turned the page and there was a full page picture of him. I yelled out as he walked by "Hey, it's you!" We chatted a bit, and then he signed his picture on the page in the Journal. Later on in the flight, he walked the plane shaking hands and giving autographs.
 
IAHWorldflyer
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Re: Flying British Airways Club Europe with Hillary Clinton randomly sitting behind me was interesting!

Wed Feb 19, 2020 5:23 pm

Back sometime around 2000 I flew on a CO flight SEA-IAH with the Dalai Lama. I was in the bulkhead row of coach, and he was in the last row of F. I wouldn't have known it was him, except I went up to use the F lav, as the Y aisle was blocked in drink service, and the flight attendant up there actually asked me "do you know who the Dalai Lama is?" I explained to her he was the head of Tibetan Buddhism. Then I said, why do you ask? She said, well, according to my manifest he's sitting in 4A. He had a couple other guys in his entourage. It was kinda cool after the flight, he was down in the baggage claim waiting on checked luggage like the rest of us.

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