President Joe Biden, 80, now almost exclusively uses Air Force One’s small, retractable stairs to board the presidential plane, after he tripped several times on the plane’s steps and questions about his health have been raised during his run for re-election.
Politico reported Wednesday that two Biden advisers privately acknowledged that the president’s now-frequent use of small stairs was intentional to ensure easier travel and reduce the chance of another trip.
Presidents have the option of using a staircase on wheels – with 26 steps to climb – or a shorter, 14-step staircase that folds flat.
Although Biden continues to use the tall staircase, thus making a grand entrance, upon his arrival at the venue, he has chosen the short staircase to board the plane on almost every occasion since falling on top of a sandbag last month.
The president first lost his battle over the exterior stairs of Air Force One just two months into his term, in March 2021, when he visited Atlanta, Georgia.
President Joe Biden now climbs Air Force One almost exclusively using the short, retractable ladder (left, pictured Thursday), after climbing the ladder three times. Here (right) he stumbled upon it in March 2021
Another angle of President Joe Biden’s March 2021 fall as he climbs into Air Force One using the tall, grand staircase at Joint Base Andrews
Then in February, while leaving Warsaw, Poland — after his secret 10-hour-each train trip to Ukraine — he briefly tripped over the steps again.
It happened a third time in early March, when the president briefly tripped as he boarded his plane en route to Selma, Alabama.
He has other knocks too.
There was the time last June in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, when the president got his shoe caught in the foot clip of his bike, falling sideways in front of a crowd of onlookers and reporters.
His biggest stumble came when he tripped over a sandbag at a US Air Force Academy graduation ceremony in Colorado last month.
The White House will not officially acknowledge that accommodations are being made.
Late last month, Bloomberg’s Justin Sink asked Karin Jean-Pierre about Biden using the short stairs during an in-flight gaggle aboard Air Force One.
President Joe Biden briefly falls down the stairs aboard Air Force One as he leaves Warsaw in February 2023 after a three-day visit to Kiev and the Polish capital.
President Joe Biden once again had trouble navigating the stairs of Air Force One — he briefly stumbled as he boarded the presidential plane as it departed Selma, Alabama, in March 2023.
President Joe Biden also famously fell off his bike near his Delaware beach home last June after having trouble dislodging his foot from the toe clip.
Sink noted that Biden began using the retractable ladder shortly after tripping over the sandbag and asked the press secretary if the president was experiencing ‘mobility issues.’
‘If it’s addressed – you know, he’s had a few incidents after climbing the stairs and you’ve decided it’ll be better for him,’ Sink thought.
Jean-Pierre responded that he had ‘no decision process to go through.’
‘I’m sure there’s a protocol that’s used – for Air Force One. I don’t have it,’ she said.
‘I mean, you see the president every day, when it’s — to speak — when you — when we’re talking dynamics. The president always says look at him,’ he continued. ‘You know, he was a – he was a president – let’s not forget, he went into a war zone country in Ukraine and did it in a way that was incredibly effective. The world saw him there and met President Zelensky. And I think that’s incredibly important.’
The trip ended with Biden walking up the stairs of Air Force One.
Sink also pointed to the White House’s revelation that days earlier the president had begun using a CPAP machine to treat his sleep apnea.
We’ve seen changes in the medical technology he’s using, we’ve seen behavioral changes here. Is there anything that you’re seeing that represents any kind of medical change with the president?’ pressure sink
Jean-Pierre then pointed to the medical report the White House released about the president — which came out in February, before Biden tripped twice on Air Force One and the sandbag incident.