Saturday, December 26, 2009

See you next year jacka*s

The Holiday season brings out the worst in people. This can be seen at any airport around Christmas. On Christmas day it can be down right ugly.

Last night I was assigned a simple turn. The flight (let's call it flight 5001) out left 5 minutes early. Nice ride. We arrived 5 minutes early and figured we would leave on time or early. It wasn't too be.

The outstation understaffed for the Holiday. After they parked us, they all left to handle an outbound flight thus no bags were being pulled off. The flight prior to ours (lets call if flight 5000) back to the hub was more than two hours late and would actually be leaving an hour after we left. This meant upset passengers who might miss their connections.

After my post flight I headed up to the terminal. At the gate desk was a gate agent being lectured by a male passenger. The gate agent was all of 26 years old, 5'5 and full of cheer. Nice lady. The male passenger was upset because he was going to miss his connection as he was booked on flight 5000. His connecting flight was to leave at 8:30PM but was currently showing a 20 minute delay. My flight back to base, call it flight 5002, was scheduled to arrive at 8:50PM...the same time as the his connecting flight. Got it so far?

Well the passenger wanted his checked bag checked THRU to his final destination (hoping it would arrive the next morning). This isn't allowed as passengers must PLAN to fly with their bags. Airline's aren't allowed to intentionally fly bags without the passenger aboard. It's an old...but required...rule. He complained that bags fly all the time without passengers due to fault of the airline screwing up. True, but again airlines can't intentionally separate a passenger and their bag.

The passenger then said why can't the airline just rush the bag over to the connecting flight that night. Well since there was ZERO minutes between our scheduled arrival and the delayed departure....not possible. He went back and forth with the agent while I quietly stood next to her checking my schedule and other bits. I looked up and saw a growing line of passengers who also needed help. I looked at the passenger and stated, "Sir she has explained the rules to you at least twice. She has given you the choice of getting on my plane and you will have to collect your bag and attempt to make the connection OR you can stay here and get a flight out in the morning. The ball is in your court." He then attempted to play the game with me about his bag and such. I cut him off quickly. "Sir the agent has clearly stated the rules. If you have a problem with the rules feel free to contact the FAA." Under his breath he said the infamous, "We will never be flying this airline again." In my head I replied, "See you next year jackass." With that I asked passengers behind them if they had an easy question not dealing with seating or tickets I could help them. While the agent helped the male passenger I worked the line. Everyone behind him had been patiently waiting and all had simple questions.

The male passenger decided to ride on my flight. The agent stated twice that he would have to collect his bag in baggage claim and either carry it on to his destination or get a hotel and catch a flight in the morning. The airline would not give him a hotel and would not deliver his bag to him if he failed to collect it. This was all noted in his file.

Once I was on board I warned the flight attendants about him.

Boarding started and the second passenger on was one I had helped at the gate. They had a service dog and wanted to pre-board. No problem. They were sitting in row 12. Problem. They have to sit in a bulkhead row with a service animal. The flight attendant advised them of this and offered them 1A and 1B. I then offered to take their boarding passes and go up to the gate to get them rebooked. It's not in my job description, but I have not and will do my best to never forget that the passenger pays my paycheck.

On my way up was a family of four I had helped and told their bags would NOT fit on board. The wife said "my bag always fits" earlier and she walked right by me again. By the time I got back to the plane she was walking back off the plane. Her bag didn't fit. Cause of all of this she cost us a good 5 minutes as boarding STOPPED while she walked from the back of the plane to the front to drop off her bag. It takes a while on a single isle plane.

We left 15 minutes late in the end. My leg. I decided to make up as much time as possible. I climbed at 305 knots and cruised at Mach .81. Approach helped out a bit by giving us the runway closest to our gate. There was a catch though.

The arrival brings us in at 12,000 feet. Field elevation is 700 feet. Altitude at the FAF is 3200 feet for a 5 mile final. We were given a descent to 11,000 feet. The told to expedite descent to 4000. With 4000 set in the altitude preselect I used the VS wheel to spin it down to an initial 1800 feet per minute. Once descending I deployed the flight spoilers fully....then called for flaps 1....then flaps 8....slowing to 200 knots I called for flaps 20. I then spun the wheel over to 3300 feet per minute. Yeee haw!

While descending approach turned us on a base and called out "traffic, 12 o'clock, 757 at 3000". I saw him. Wanting to avoid a TCAS advisory I reduced the descent rate to 1200 feet per minute.

Once clear we turned final. The ILS was turned and the PAPI was in sight. We were still very high. "Gear down, Flaps 30" I called as I turned the autopilot off and nosed the plane over.

Passing thru 2000 feet I called flaps 45. I was on glide slope as I reached 1100 feet. What a ride. For the first time since 12,000 feet I added power.

Calm winds. Landing weight of 63,000 pounds. I adjusted the trim to 7.5...just below the 7.7 I used for takeoff. I had it trimmed so  I had to apply very slight pressure forward to go down. The touchdown was perfect. We cleared the runway with 2 minutes until our scheduled arrival. Not too shabby.

The male passenger made the connection. It ended up leaving at 9:30PM. No idea if he picked up his own bag.

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