I attended Obama’s inauguration.
I opted to skip Trump’s inauguration
I’d planned to attend Biden’s inauguration.
The three inaugurations could not have been more different, and my personal experience with each of them was dramatically different as well (my wife and I have lived in Washington, DC for a good chunk of the last 20 years).
OBAMA: The message delivered by the newly minted President Obama was one of hope, unity and promise. It was frigid in DC on the day of his inauguration, but that did not quell the joy emanating from the massive crowd spilled across the National Mall. Hotels in the city were booked solid and the inaugural balls were boisterous (We attended three of them).
Of course, this also meant that flights in and out of DC surrounding the inauguration were booked solid too and I played a unique role in this department.
At the time, I worked for Delta Air Lines and I managed the inventory (aka seats) of all the airline’s flights in and out of the DC region. The moment Obama was declared victorious in the 2008 election, seats on all of Delta’s DC bound flights started selling like hotcakes. No matter what I did to jiggle the prices, I couldn’t stop people from snapping up tickets. It was insane. So insane that we ended up swapping A319s and B757s, the planes that usually flew into National Airport (DCA), with 767s. Yes, 767s, planes that are typically used on international routes, fly across oceans, and have two aisles. And even most of them filled up, inbound before inauguration and outbound after it.
Side note for airline geeks: DCA is slot controlled. In simple terms, this means Delta (as well as other airlines) could not ADD flights. The only way to increase the inventory (the # of seats) flying in and out of DCA for inauguration was to bring in bigger planes. Hence, the 767s
TRUMP: I’ll skip the nitty gritty details of Trump’s inauguration. I was not there to witness it in person. But I think it’s fair to say it’s overlying message was not of hope. The fact that it initiated a presidency that began with lies about its crowd size and ended with an insurrection probably says enough.
BIDEN: My wife and I planned to attend Biden’s inauguration and we couldn’t wait to see Kamala Harris be sworn in as the first woman Vice President. At first, it appeared as though Biden’s inauguration might draw crowds that, while dampened by Covid, would also be massive. The news reported a surge in hotel and airline bookings after Biden was officially declared the winner and we had friends asking to crash at our house in DC. But then January 6th happened. An insurrection happened.
Tall black metal fences and concrete barriers went up around the Capitol and then around the Mall. Streets were closed off and the National Guard descended upon DC. My wife and I walked around the White House and Capitol the weekend before Biden’s inauguration and it was eerie, to say the least. The only good thing I can say about it is, it was a biker’s paradise. No cars anywhere. Needless to say, we didn’t attend inauguration. We couldn’t have even if we’d wanted to. It was closed to the public for security reasons. How sad.
Biden did, however, deliver a message of hope and unity. Both things we could use a lot more of right now.