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May 20, 201309:05 AM
The Editor's Room

Weekly Commentary with New Orleans Magazine’s Errol Laborde

Getting Bumped by Obama

On Sunday I was in a plane at the gate waiting to take off from South Bend, Ind., (where I had attended a Notre Dame graduation) to fly to Atlanta where I would be attending a city magazine convention. Then came the pilot's announcement: "I have some bad news,” he said. Now no one likes bad news at any time, especially from a pilot about to take off.


We were told we would have to gather our luggage and head back to the waiting area. The reason: President Barack Obama was in Atlanta so the airport was temporarily closed. Oh, and there were thunderstorms, too. Thus was my first glimpse at what was a harrowing day for air travelers. My flight would leave an hour later, but the flight for someone else I knew was canceled and she was told she would have to wait until the next evening. (Ultimately she got a ride to Chicago the next morning from where she took a flight from Midway to Atlanta.) Here at the conference there were many stories of flight delays. The Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the nation and any blip in the schedule can have global travel implications. A delayed European flight could cause missed connections on the other side.


I am not blaming Obama. (Remember the time when the New Orleans airport remained closed while Bill Clinton got a haircut inside Air Force One? Clinton, who was new to the presidency at the time, later apologized and said he didn't know what type of disruption he created.) What I experienced made me realize just how severe the disruption can be. It not only affects the discomfort of the little guy crammed into the economy section, but also impacts the world's commerce, which depends on reliable flight service.


So I wonder if the presidential visit procedures could be reexamined. Maybe it is not necessary to close airports for so long when Air Force One is in town, or maybe the president should land at military bases when possible. They are probably more secure anyway.


By now, the president's quick visit to Atlanta to make a graduation speech is old news. Meanwhile there is some American tourist in Europe trying to catch up with the tour that his late arrival caused him to miss. He might not ever know whose fault it was. He might be surprised to find out.



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The Editor's Room

Weekly Commentary with New Orleans Magazine’s Errol Laborde


Errol LabordeErrol Laborde holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of New Orleans and is the editor-in-chief of Renaissance Publishing. In that capacity he serves as editor/associate publisher of New Orleans Magazine and editor/publisher of Louisiana Life magazine.

Errol is also a producer and a regular panelist on Informed Sources, a weekly news discussion program broadcast on public television station WYES-TV, Channel 12. Errol is a three-time winner of the Alex Waller Award, the highest award given in print journalism by the Press Club of New Orleans. He also received the National and City Regional Magazine Association Award for Best Column for his New Orleans Magazine column, beating out 76 city magazines across the country. In 2013, Errol received the award for the "Best News Affiliated Blog," awarded by the Press Club of New Orleans.

Errol’s most recent books are Krewe: The Early Carnival from Comus to Zulu and Marched the Day God: A History of the Rex Organization. In his free time he enjoys playing tennis and traveling with his wife, Peggy, to anywhere they can get away to, but some of his favorite spots are the Caribbean and historic locations around Louisiana. You can reach Errol at (504) 830-7235 or errol@myneworleans.com.




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