Angela Merkel Flies Commercial on Iberia to Get to the G-20 Summit

Nov 30, 2018

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

World leaders are just like us: They fly commercial!

Well, not exactly. They fly commercial, like German Chancellor Angela Merkel did Friday, when their ultra-secure government airplanes have a bizarre technical failure on the way to a major summit; have to make an emergency landing; there is no backup government plane available; and said leader positively, absolutely has to be there on time, because it’s a G-20 summit of the world’s top 20 industrialized nations and it would look very bad if number four on the list did not show up.

Merkel and her entourage were on the way from Berlin to Buenos Aires, Argentina, Thursday evening on one of the German Air Force’s two Airbus A340-300 long-haul jets, former Lufthansa planes turned into VIP transports for the chancellor and president — with satellite communications, anti-missile gear, and all the other systems needed to safely ferry the leaders of a big, important nation and keep them securely in touch with the armed forces.

Things went awry when the plane had to make an emergency landing Thursday because of a technical issue, which according to German media later turned out to be a failure of the radios. According to German news site Spiegel Online, the only way that the crew could communicate with air traffic control was thanks to that onboard satellite phone. The Airbus was met by fire trucks and, while the landing was perfectly safe,  it had to be taken out of service.

Initially, German media reported that Merkel would reach Argentina on the air force’s other Airbus A340. But that’s not what happened.

The leader of the most populous country in the European Union and fourth-biggest economy in the world ended up flying just like we do. She took a commercial airliner from Madrid, which she reached on a smaller German air force plane that didn’t have the range to get to Argentina. Specifically, she took Iberia flight IB6849 nonstop to Buenos Aires (EZE) — and of course passengers with phone cameras documented it.

 

By the look of it, Merkel was in business class, at least. (According to our review of Iberia biz class, she had room to stretch but probably not the best inflight catering.) No word on whether her entourage was in coach class or up front with the boss.

At the time of this writing, the Airbus A330-200 is still in the air. Flight tracking site Flightaware has Merkel at 34,000 feet above Brazil, still a few hours from landing in Buenos Aires.   

According to the Financial Times, Merkel said the problem on her A340 was “a serious malfunction” — however, the air force said there was no sign of wrongdoing. German journalists on board the original air force flight said that Merkel was told by an aide that there was an urgent problem that required her attention. The chancellor thought that there was a crisis she had to deal with, but then was told about the problem with the plane.

Featured image of the A340-300 aircraft with Merkel on board stranded in Cologne by Jörg Blank/picture alliance via Getty Images

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.