More than 2,000 years ago, St. Peter, the first Pope, traveled on a boat. Now, the mode of transportation is much quicker. The first Pope to take a flight as Pontiff, was Paul VI back in 1964, as he made his way to the Holy Land.
Years later, John Paul II would break records, by making 104 international trips. Benedict XVI traveled outside of Italy on 24 occasions. His first trip was to Cologne, Germany and his last was to Lebanon.
Pope Francis once said he wasn't big on traveling, but he now seems quite accustomed to it, even carrying his personal luggage on board.
The so called papal plane is not owned by the Pope. The Vatican rents it from a local airline, usually Alitalia. When the Pope is on his way back, he usually boards a plane owned by a major airline of the visited country.
It's a plane just like any other. The only noticeable difference is that the head covers are embroided with the Papal shield. For most of the passengers, the flight isn't for sleeping, but to get ahead on work.
In route to his destination, the Pope usually meets with reporters to highlight the main points of his trip. Every now and then, there are some lighthearted jokes that follow.
On his way back to Rome, there's a press conference that can last anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. It's a time to reflect on the trip and other pressing issues of the Universal Church.
Moments after the press conference ends, journalists don't waste any time. They sometimes use satellite phones to pass on the headline or even to go live on radio or television on flight.
If time permits, one can also enjoy some lunch or dinner prepared specifically for the flight. For those who just want to shut off, there's the usual option of reading a book or simply watching a movie.
If possible, some journalists choose to use their free time to recuperate from the jet lag since once they get off the plane, they have to be ready to give the big story.
AA / MG