Saturday, January 9, 2010

To those about to commute....I salute you

Here I sit in seat 24A at 34,000 feet headed home from a long two day trip. “Zzyzx Rd” is being played on my Zune HD. The song's lyrics almost fit the life of a low seniority pilot.

I get to go home in one week.

But I'm leaving home in three weeks.

They throw me a bone just to pick me dry.

I'm following suit and directions.

I crawl up inside for protection.

I'm told what to do and I don't know why.

Today was pretty boring work wise. I headed up to the airport at 2PM. Grabbed lunch and off to my flight. Due to all the craziness yesterday there were several crews out of place. I was deadheading along with my Captain and two flight attendants.

As is I was scheduled to deadhead to the outstation and somehow do a crew swap and block out in 30 minutes. I saw somehow as a normal turn can take 30 minutes. Throw in a crew swap and it gets interesting.

Somehow it was done. Even tough we left 35 minutes late, we blocked in only 15 minutes late. And left 15 minutes late.

I have deiced more on this two day trip that I have all winter. I've had to deice every leg.

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The ATIS was reporting light snow. We got Type I and Type IV. For a reason not known to us, another CRJ only got Type I. The Captain and discussed how little sense it makes to save 1 minute by not getting Type IV and the ramifications that could arise if something happens. After a short wait due to flow control we were up, up and away.

I had never flown with this Captain before. Makes sense as I was flying out of another base. Nice flight. I discussed a few of my geeky money saving ideas such as Ooma.

My original deadhead flight was supposed to leave at 7:10PM. We were lined up for a 20 mile final at 6:35PM. Not looking good.

After touching down at 6:42PM things got busy. The ground controller was rattling off taxi instructions faster than an auctioneer at an auto auction (I worked at an auto auction two summers back in high job!). He was speaking so fast that there were no room for a reply. I heard my flight number....and then “double back on M, M10, left A, A4 to Delta, D9 to Lima, L9 divided by the square root of Pi”. Well okay maybe not that exactly. It rushed by. Thankfully the Captain got it. The instructions were common for where we were to where we needed to go.

On the way we passed by the gate for my deadhead. I wasn't going to make it. From the gate we parked at to the deadhead was at least a 12 minute walk. We blocked in at 6:55PM and I still had to do my post flight. Oh well.

After running all the checklist I headed inside and called scheduling so they could book me on the next and last flight to base. I wasn't too thrilled to see I would be arriving in base at 10:20PM. I asked if I could stay overnight and do more flying out of this base. Denied. It got worse when I saw I was assigned airport reserve tomorrow. It just keeps getting better.

When my airline deadheads me I have the option of riding in First Class if it exist and if there is space. I checked the box for First Class and hoped for the best. If I got First Class I could save a few bucks by not having to buy dinner. As luck would have it I missed First Class by one seat. Oh well.

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Great view of the de-icing boom from my seat on my deadhead

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I don't know how commuters do it. The last two days have been “legal” duty days meaning all of my deadheads and flights fit into a normal duty day. The FAA states I can work a 14 hour duty day that can be extended to 16 hours for weather or mechanical delays.

Commuters have the same rules, but they can have much longer days. It's not uncommon for a commuter to be awake and on the move for 20+ hours. All legal.

Tomorrow is my day 5. If things pan out the way I think they will I will have reserve at home on Sunday.

Looking forward in the month I can't wait until the 20th comes along as I will be headed to the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. I went last year and plan to go again this year. After that I head out for a 5 day cruise with my wife.

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