The Obama daughters are currently 13 and 9 years old. When First Lady Michelle Obama took the two off to South Africa and Botswana back in June, they not only got to go entirely on the taxpayer’s dime. They got listed in the official flight manifest as “senior staff.” The flight itself seems to have cost close to half a million dollars.
- According to U.S. Department of Defense’s published hourly rates for the C-32A aircraft used for the trip, we calculated the total cost to American taxpayers was $424,142 for the flight and crew. (The C-32 is a specially configured military version of the Boeing 757.) Other expenses ─ meals (off the plane), transportation, security, various services, etc. ─ have yet to be reported.
- The expense records also indicate $928.44 were spent for “bulk food” purchases on flight. Overall, during the trip, 192 meals were served for the 21 passengers on board.
- The passenger manifests confirm the presence of Obama’s daughter’s, Malia and Sasha on the trip. The two girls are listed as “Senior Staff.” The manifests also list Mrs. Obama’s mother, Marian Robinson, and niece and nephew, Leslie and Avery Robinson, as well Mrs. Obama’s makeup and hairstylist (Carl Ray and Johnny Wright).
There were likely other staff and security expenses related to the trip, but those numbers haven’t come out yet. This was, essentially, a family vacation. The First Lady delivered a couple of speeches, but she and the kids also hit some tourist spots, museums, went on safari and so forth. And it occurred while Washington was embroiled in the intense budget showdown.