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Delays lead to 10-hour flight to LA for Cubs

Family member's non-life-threatening medical issue forces diverted landing
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

LOS ANGELES -- The Cubs' cross-country flight from Washington to Los Angeles was interrupted by a layover in Albuquerque, N.M., because a family member became ill on the plane. Manager Joe Maddon said the way the players reacted was another example of the strong bond on the team.

The Cubs clinched a berth in the National League Championship Series presented by Camping World with a Game 5 win Thursday night over the Nationals in Washington in the NL Division Series presented by T-Mobile. They celebrated at Nationals Park, and then boarded a charter flight for Los Angeles.

LOS ANGELES -- The Cubs' cross-country flight from Washington to Los Angeles was interrupted by a layover in Albuquerque, N.M., because a family member became ill on the plane. Manager Joe Maddon said the way the players reacted was another example of the strong bond on the team.

The Cubs clinched a berth in the National League Championship Series presented by Camping World with a Game 5 win Thursday night over the Nationals in Washington in the NL Division Series presented by T-Mobile. They celebrated at Nationals Park, and then boarded a charter flight for Los Angeles.

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The Cubs' plane departed Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia shortly after 4 a.m. ET on Friday, but it was diverted to Albuquerque because of a non-life-threatening medical situation.

"Everybody was fine," Maddon said Friday at Dodger Stadium. "Everybody understood the reasoning behind [the layover]. I thought our guys handled it extremely well. Biggest concern was that there might not be enough food for everybody. But big 767 [plane], plenty of room. We all settled in. We knew there was a reason."

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Once the plane touched down in Albuquerque, the pilot had to be replaced because of duty-hour restrictions. The plane remained on the ground in Albuquerque for five hours before departing just before 10:30 a.m. MT.

"The pilots had to go off-duty at that point, otherwise we could have landed and taken off right after that, but we were unable to based on their regulations," Maddon said. "We understood all that. I was really, really proud of the guys. They rallied around the person that was ill. There was a lot of support going on. From that perspective, I was looking at it from the camaraderie, the family kind of component to the entire evening.

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"In spite of the inconvenience, and it was, and in today's world, with all the events that are thundering down upon us, I thought it was kind of a bunt, so I thought we handled it well."

The Cubs eventually landed in Los Angeles shortly after 11 a.m. PT, representing a 10-hour takeoff-to-touchdown journey from Dulles.

"It was unusual," Maddon said of the long day. "You saw what happened last night [in Game 5 of the NLDS], and then of course, we had that medical emergency on the airplane and that caused us to be in Albuquerque for a long period of time."

Thursday night wasn't exactly relaxing for the Cubs. Their victory over the Nationals lasted 4 hours, 37 minutes, and it did not conclude until 12:45 a.m. ET on Friday. It was the longest nine-inning game in postseason history, breaking the record of 4 hours, 32 minutes in Game 5 of last year's NLDS, when the Dodgers eliminated the Nats.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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