Last updated: 10:56 AM ET, Thu September 24 2015

Pope Francis Flies American Airlines

Airlines & Airports | American Airlines | Rich Thomaselli | September 24, 2015

Pope Francis Flies American Airlines

Pope Francis flew into the United States this week on the familiar Alitalia Airlines jet from Rome, naturally, but while he is in America he will fly American Airlines.

When the Pope leaves Washington D.C. later today, he will fly to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport in a special American Airlines charter. He will use that same plane to fly to Philadelphia on Saturday to conclude his visit to the U.S. before flying back to Rome on Sunday.

The special charter is a Boeing 777 and will also carry the Pope back to Italy. It is the first time since 1993 that American Airlines has flown the Pope. That trip ferried Pope John Paul II from Denver back to Rome.

According to the Dallas Morning News, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops chartered the American jet for Pope Francis. There were no special modifications made, and American Airlines spokesperson Casey Norton told the paper “We’re limited with the details we can provide because of security.”

Other interesting tidbits about the Pope’s air travel, according to

• The Vatican does not own its own plane. It typically charters a jet that has already been in use on long-haul flights, and the plane goes back into regular commercial service when the Pope’s trip is concluded.

• The Pope typically sits in the front row of business class, but that is about the only perk he typically accepts.

• The Pope travels with an entourage of about 30 – the remaining 70+ people on the flight are journalists.

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