Wednesday, July 14, 2010

4 days, 3 nights and 19 hours

I haven't had many  4 day trips this year. This is mostly due to me being assigned monthly airport reserve.

Four day trips can be grueling. The one I was assigned was built nicely. Nineteen hours of flying, little sitting around and long overnights.

The trip started with a deadhead to another domicile. At my airline I have the option of riding in First Class if there is space. I always ask. On this trip I got First Class and an airline paid for First Class breakfast.

After landing I had 2 hours to kill. I had not been to the crew room at that domicile in a while. I wandered around for a bit before calling a buddy who was based there. I didn't want to end up looking suspicious walking around aimlessly. He helped me out.

Once there I remembered why I had not been there in a while. Depressing. Thankfully it wasn't long before I was in the cockpit. One leg to the overnight.

The crew was very nice. Trip was normal until landing.

Once we touched down the 'call' button lit up associated by a ding. The forward flight attendant is very senior. I have flown with him several times and knew that if he was calling right after landing it was important.

Seems a passenger went into the lave about 5 minutes before landing. And never came out. Repeated knocks on the door went unanswered as did calling for his attention. The flight attendant knew we were landing and returned to his seat, he then heard "500" from the GPWS and knew it was too late to call us.

I asked if he thought the passenger needed assistance. He had no idea. I discussed the situation with the Captain and we decided it was best to call Police and Fire in case the passenger had a heart attack or was simply being a security risk. Just as I switched over to ground the flight attendant called back. The passenger opened the door as if nothing had happened and tried to walk back to his seat. The rear flight attendant instructed him to take an empty seat in the back. He wasn't drunk, disabled or in need of medical attention...he was just stupid. Spoke perfect english. Just stupid.

After arriving we all went to dinner together. I love crew dinners. Always something to talk about. I had only flown with one of the flight attendants prior. The Captain and other flight attendant were new to me. Awesome seafood, beer and conversation. The Captain paid for well more than his share of the bill. I plan on picking up the tab for a few meals when I finally get seat on the left.

Day 2 was rough. Five AM van. Four legs and 6 1/2 hours of flying later we were at the next overnight. The Captain deadheaded back. Our next Captain was already there.

It was July 3rd and we were overnight in our nations Capital. The Captain flew his family in as we had a double overnight.

Being a little tired I hung around the hotel the first night. Tired.

Day 3 started with a 5AM van. Easy day. Just two legs and we were back in the hotel at Noon.

I decided to head to the National Mall area to the Air and Space Museum. Mistake. Being the 4th the area was swamped. Lines for all the museums were over an hour. I found a tree and read a book for a while. After wandering around the National Mall I headed to the Pentagon City Mall for dinner and window shopping.

Keeping busy on overnights can be a challenge. Some cities have tons to do (Washington, D.C, New York, Miami, Las Vegas). Others have very little to do (Savannah, GA, Rogers, Arkansas, Eugene, Oregon). I tend to explore each city as long as it's not a reduced rest overnight.

The night of July 4th I headed up to the roof of the hotel to watch the fireworks. The view was awesome. The fireworks were going off by the National Monument. To my amazement flights were still landing at DCA on the river visual to runway 19! I can't imagine trying to find the runway at night with huge firework displays going off directly in front of the cockpit. I tried to get a few shots of the planes, but they ended up being streaks in the sky.

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The last day was 3 legs to home. Everything went perfectly. When I was finally in base I was beat...Seeing as I fly an average of 25 hours a MONTH flying 19 in 4 days was new to me. I did enjoy the flying though.

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