Jonathan Wackrow is a former US Secret Service agent who served on presidential protective detail. He recently took part in Vanity Fair’s video series featuring people with real-life expertise giving their takes on scenes from movies and television shows. (Not everything Hollywood shoves out there is completely realistic — can you believe that?! 🙂 )
Comments he made while discussing Wolfgang Petersen’s hit film Air Force One rustled a few feathers.
(Warning: the scene from Veep contains some NSFW language.)
The video shows Mr. Wackrow recounting the first time he boarded the iconic aircraft. He said:
My very first time aboard Air Force One, the moment that I got on board, you just knew that it was a different aircraft. The flight crew was different. You knew that this wasn’t just a flight crew from Delta. These were trained professionals…that were there to serve the president of the United States.
Commenters on the video’s YouTube page were quick to start criticizing the remark as though it were a gripe against Delta flight attendants.
A Delta flight attendant to whom I sent the clip told me, “I don’t get offended by anyone making negative comments about the flight attendant job or anything like that. I think that I’m trained for the unexpected and treat my customers at my best, considering they are flying commercial.”
I figured that maybe Delta was the first airline that popped into Mr. Wackrow’s head. And by “trained professionals,” he likely didn’t mean to hurt any feelings. Operation Military Kids explains that Air Force One flight attendants “are existing Air Force airmen normally at the 5-Skill level that must retrain into the 1A6X1 career field.”
For example, the Air Force One flight attendants are trained in combat and other military skills.
I contacted Mr. Wackrow to see if he’d be kind enough to give us a comment.
There’s a Good Reason He Had Delta on the Brain!
Mr. Wackrow is currently a CNN Law Enforcement Analyst and the COO of Teneo Risk. He also serves as Teneo’s Global Head of Security. He served on President Barack Obama’s protective detail and has worked with every living US president in some form or another. (You can learn more about him here.)
I spoke with Mr. Wackrow for several minutes. It turns out he’s a loyal Delta flyer. In fact, he’s been a Diamond Medallion for the past several years!
The video statement was “definitely not a slight to Delta,” he said.
He explained the actual line he spoke during filming was something like, “These were trained professionals by the military to have a combat mindset to take the President from Iowa to Iraq at a moment’s notice.”
If you watch the clip again, you’ll notice a cut between “These were trained professionals” and “that were there to serve the president of the United States.” And therein lies the confusion. Two different sentences were fused together.
Mr. Wackrow had nothing but glowing things to say about Delta during our conversation.
“If I cannot fly on Air Force One then Delta is my only airline of choice,” he said. “As a multi-year Diamond Medallion member, I value the dedication to service and professionalism put forth by every Delta employee. From the flight deck to the cabin crew to the ground-based personnel, Delta has no equal in my opinion.”
Like many of us, he enjoys “the long way” when flying from Point A to Point B, choosing connections on Delta over non-stops on other airlines. He’ll fly from the New York area to a hub like Salt Lake City or Minneapolis — only to fly back east. After all, he needs his MQM!
And, believe it or not, Delta has a leg up on Air Force Once in one aspect.
“One benefit that Delta has over Air Force One is [earning] SkyMiles!” he added with a laugh.
Statements sometimes get lost in translation (or editing). That’s what happened here. Most of us feel Delta has a fantastic product. And if a security expert — who’s also former Secret Service agent — trusts Delta with his life, that’s certainly a glowing endorsement.
Featured image: Photo ©iStock.com/Delta logo property of Delta Air Lines/Rene’s Points composite
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