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If you don't live in Washington, D.C., or New York City, you probably are unfamiliar with "the shuttle" — the every half hour flights between the two cities operated by Delta and US Air. Last night I was on the 6:30 p.m. Delta shuttle from NYC to D.C. Frankly, I usually fly US Air (but because we were late getting out of the city and I needed to get back to D.C. ASAP for our show, we took Delta.)
We boarded the Delta shuttle at right before 6:30 p.m. and, after it was too late to get off and go to US Air or to go back into the city to catch the train to D.C., we got an announcement that there was a delay (apparently some weather between the two cities caused delay.)
The pilot said that he was calling Delta or someone to get a different route — or something like that — so that he could take the plane to DC. No one wants to fly in dangerous conditions, but it is a bit annoying that we were not told before we boarded the plane so that we could explore options to get home. The pilot and flight attendant were very nice and kept us informed as best they could, but I can't help but wonder why the airline did not give us a heads up before we boarded. Were they worried we would all run to a competitor? In other words, was this a revenue decision to keep us on their flight rather than run to US Air or a legitimate surprise to them? I don't know. If you know the answer to this, please e-mail me as I would like to know. There may be a good reason.
At 7:20 p.m. — almost an hour after we were to leave and about the time we should be landing in Washington, D.C. — the pilot got on the loudspeaker and said Delta was going to reroute us to "lower altitudes" so that we could escape the weather. We were greatly excited… it sounded like we would be headed home soon. As an aside, rerouting to lower altitudes made only part sense to me since I am neither a pilot nor a meteorologist. I sort of thought you flew "over" bad weather, but obviously I don't know. I assume this makes sense to those who are trained pilots.
As you might imagine, the entire time we were on the ground after pulling away from the terminal, I had my eye on my watch. As time passed, I wondered if I should ask to get off and take a cab back into NYC to do our show there or wait and hope to get to D.C. before 9:00 (so that I could make it to the bureau in time to prepare for the show and be live on the set at 10 p.m. when the show starts.) At 7:29, the pilot got back on the loudspeaker and said computers give the new routes (not humans) and now there was a bit of a backup to get that route from the computer. So we waited... and waited.
At 7:38 p.m., we heard from the pilot that we were getting closer to an active taxiway. This was great news! We finally took off — not sure what time — but I walked into the D.C. bureau a little after 9:15 p.m. with much work to do before the show. But, if you saw the show, you know we managed to pull it off.
And, under the heading "never dull," while we were waiting on the tarmac for that lower altitude flight pattern from the computer, I got an e-mail from my senior producer asking to call her ASAP... important. I called her only to learn that the parents of missing 4-year-old Madeleine McCann would give us an interview but with one "catch": it had to be at 8:30 Friday morning. But, the 8:30 a.m. time created a new glitch. I was due on a plane at 8:30 a.m. to fly to Florida to be there for a business commitment. Now more travel issues — but we knew we had to figure out a solution.
So while on the tarmac, I e-mailed my assistant and she scrambled and re-arranged the Florida flight so that I could leave about 10 a.m. and still just barely get to Florida in time for my commitment and before that be in the D.C. bureau at 7:30 a.m. to prepare for the 8:30 a.m. trans-Atlantic interview with her parents (which you will see tonight.)
The McCann interview has been done, so now I am headed to the airport to catch my flight to Florida. Let's hope all goes according to schedule.
So now that you have read the above, you know that TV journalism is a bit more than simply what you see on TV. You have to know how to scramble and work the transportation issues. Perhaps journalism schools — if they really want you to understand the job — should teach Transportation 101.
And, just when we thought our travel plans were all set — at 8:15 a.m., just as I was in the D.C. bureau and just about to start our interview with the McCann parents, I was told our scheduled 10 a.m. flight to Florida had been cancelled (a crew problem). I didn't "need" this... so now we are headed to Baltimore (an hour away) to try and get the 10:21 a.m. flight to Florida, so that I can get there in time for my commitment there. If we miss this flight, I am cooked. If I make this flight, my nerves will be raw, but at least it worked out. How will you know if I made the Baltimore flight? Easy: watch tonight. Is our show originating out of Florida or D.C.? At this point, who knows? Yes, Travel 101 should be a pre-requisite for journalism degree (or for me, law.)
Today are posted pictures from two road trips — the Wednesday trip to Arizona to interview Mrs. McCain and yesterday's trip to interview Donald Trump.
• Click here to check out my photo essay
In the McCain pictures you will see Daisy the ferret, Sam the Springer Spaniel and the ultra-modern lobby to the McCain condominium. In the Trump pictures you will see Trump Towers on 5th Avenue — inside and out. Many of you may never have seen the Trump Tower, so it is sort of fun to see for the first time. Everything in the building says Trump — from the walls to the bar to the items sold in the gift shop.
Finally, some of your e-mails:
E-mail No. 1
A really stupid and well, an unimportant question, but I will ask anyway:
After reading your blog today, you said you were taking the train to NY and flying back...why take a 4 hour train ride when you can take a 45 minute flight? Is the train the only way for you to get some sleep?
You're the best!
E-mail No. 2
Your interview with Mrs. McCain was wonderful. I really enjoyed seeing the human and "normal" side of one of the candidates' wives. John McCain and his wife seem to be truly nice people…
E-mail No. 3
Ms. Van Susteren: You conveniently and purposely left out Cindy McCain's huge drug problem. When you asked her what made her want to do her medic work, I was waiting for her to say so she could steal all the vicodin she wanted, like she did do. That's fine — continue your one-sided unfair and unbalanced show — the truth is already out there. You are not fooling anyone!
ANSWER: I did leave that out and did so deliberately… from what I understand, everyone knows about it (you obviously did so I not need ask it for you) and more importantly: she has beaten the drug problem and the problem is many years old. Frankly, I don't want to penalize someone who is not running for office with very old news when the person has conquered the problem. If she wanted to be president and were running, I think it an important question. We can't have someone with drug problem running the country. As an aside, not everyone who faces these tough problems beats them and I admire people who do beat the problem. If she brought up the problem, I would have been happy to discuss it. If the problem were recent (in last year? two years?), I would have asked about it. So, now you have my explanation.
One other thing: I do understand why another journalist might not agree with me on this. This is one of those gray areas. After I thought about it: This was my judgment, my decision. There was nothing sinister about it.
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