Friday, January 8, 2010

First Officer Food Pyramid

Yesterday was a long day. I woke up in my own bed around 5AM as that's when my sugar momma (aka my wife who thankfully agreed to support a regional First Officer) gets up. I was assigned reserve at home from 10AM until 2AM. At 9:59AM my phone rang. Three day trip assigned.

It wasn't horrible. It started and ended with deadheads. Another domicile had run out of First Officers. I was being sent to cover a trip. I've become quite comfy with my own domicile and don't care to fly out of other domiciles. Eh.

The first deadhead flight was delayed.  I was really hoping I would mis-connect to the turn I was assigned. Since I wasn't based in the other domicile the airline has to pay for a hotel. It wasn't too be. Every flight was delayed. I made it in an hour late. The outbound was delayed by 90 minutes. I grabbed dinner. I wasn't hungry, but I knew that the delays would mount so I grabbed food for later.

The flight was supposed to leave at 4:15PM. We blocked out for the first time at 5:55PM. Full load plus a jump seater. After waiting a bit we were in the process of being de-iced when a caution light came on. Time 6:15PM. The APU door wouldn't close. Deicing stopped. Mechanics called. By the time they arrived we tried opening and closing the door a few times and got it to close. Of course by this time we were reattached to the jet bridge. A few minutes later we blocked out again and once again waited to deice. We were finally deiced again at 7:10PM. The passengers had been on board for almost two hours. The flight was blocked for 90 minutes. Flight attendants were running low on water/snacks/booze. Because we had deiced, catering was not allowed to open the service door. They would have to make do.

At 7:48PM I advanced the thrust levers and focused my eyes on the bright lights shining up from the center line of the runway. Visibility was down due to blowing snow. We didn't clear the snow/clouds until more than 10,000 feet AGL.

The outstation also had snow and wind. The Captain had never deiced at this outstation. I have only flown to this outstation once before.

Just about every airport I go to deices planes differently. Some deice at the gate. Others on the ramp. Others on a taxiway and others at the runway. All different.

We blocked in and recorded 3 hours of time. Wow. Being so late (more than 2 hours late) most of the passengers were gone. Only 11 stuck around. The crew was tired. The Captain went in to get Burger King for himself and the Flight Attendants. I had Salmon Panini's (they sounded good 4 hours ago!) and a cranberry muffin. Burger King had long since closed. We blocked out 25 minutes after blocking in. This outstation is a hub for another airline. It took us a bit to figure out where we were headed to deice. ATIS reported light snow although none was visible out the window.

We eventually found the deice line. Ground instructed each plane to follow the "follow me" truck to a deice pad. It was kinda of funny to readback, "Flight 9021 roger left on Echo then follow the follow me truck." Eh. Just had to be there. "Follow the Follow Me truck."

To our surprise the "Follow Me" truck was an airport operations Ford Explorer with strobe lights all over it. There was no "Follow Me" anywhere on it. Scam.

Once we were de-iced a new ATIS came out. No snow. Nice.

The Captain tried to fly fast back to base but 180 knot headwinds thought otherwise. I munched on my long since cold Panini's. They were actually quite tasty.

Whenever we are delayed I joke that we strive for "same day service". Well last night we didn't even make that. We blocked in a few minutes after midnight. I had been awake for 19 hours. I had been on duty for 14 hours 15 minutes. Scary thing is I was "legal" to fly until 2 AM. No way I could have.

Thankfully scheduling already set up a hotel for me. The rest of the crew is based here. All commuters. Since they are based here they have to pay for their own hotel. Part of "the lifestyle". I printed out my hotel voucher and made my way through and empty airport to the hotel van.

Today I have one deadhead to an outstation. I fly the same plane back to this base then deadhead to my base afterwards. I should land in my base at 10PM. I am betting I will be delayed though. Wouldn't mind another night. Nice hotel. Comfy bed. Great gym.

I learned long ago to always travel with food. Reason being the nice hotels I stay in (like right now) have high priced restaurants. I have ZERO desire to trudge through snow to find food. Thus I have the following food pyramid to pick from.

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