Friday, May 27, 2011

A broken record...commuting sucks

Today is Friday. I have a report time of 2:10PM for a 3PM departure.

Yesterday I looked at all the morning flights I could commute on for Friday morning. All were already overbooked. If I took a chance it would be jumpseat on Mainline at best. Of course a mainline pilot could bump me off the jumpseat.

This would also mean getting up at 4:30AM to make it to the gate by 5:15AM for the first departure at 5:40AM. If I did that I would be awake for 20 hours. Not the best.

I decided to look at flights leaving Thursday night. Due to weather there was just ONE mainline direct option....overbooked and three pilots (mix of mainline and one of my company pilots) already listed for the jumpseat. Ugh.

I then looked at flying anywhere, buying a hotel and commuting Friday morning. Expensive, but cheaper than losing 22 hours of pay if I had to use the commuter policy. Nothing looked good.

Meanwhile my wife had just come home from work and my daughter wasn't in the best of moods. Stressing.

The mainline flight left at 7PM. Since there were mainline jumpseaters I didn't even try. I looked at going offline.

There was another flight on the same plane I fly by another carrier leaving at 7:50PM. The time was currently 6:20PM. I can't see loads for offline flights so I posted a request on Facebook for my friends who fly for the other airline to check for me. Time to go.

I grabbed my bags (which I thankfully packed hours prior) and kissed my family goodbye. Just like last week I had to commute up a night early.

By the time I got to the offline gate it was 7:20PM. Thankfully the flight was delayed. I noticed a Flight Attendant from my mainline partner also looking to jumpseat.

I got a response from a friend who stated there were no other pilots listed, but the flight was full. The wait began.

I listed with the gate agent who was very nice. This was my first time ever commuting on this carrier. I wasn't sure of the procedure. Apparently listing at the gate is normal. The flight was delayed by 90 minutes.

The mainline Flight Attendant couldn't jumpseat as there is no agreement between her airline and the express airline. It would later not matter as the flight was full and the two flight attendant jumpseats were occupied by the crew.

Plane arrived. I stood back. The Captain walked off, saw me waiting, and asked if I had a seat. I stated I did not and might be riding up front with him. No problem was his response.

Boarding started. I made my way down the jet bridge and formally asked for a ride. Once approved I took my seat. Since it was the same plane I fly I knew my way around and how to operate the jumpseat.

Three hour flight. Really uncomfortable jumpseat....the back is totally vertical. Ugh.

I did notice several procedural differences between how they fly the plane and how my company flies the plane. I also noticed my airline equips the plane with more equipment.

Landed. I thanked them for the ride and then was a bit lost as I wasn't used to their terminal. Finally found my way. Hopped on the hotel van and off I went.

It might get boring hearing me complain about commuting, but hopefully it's eye opening. It's not easy. There are very few "easy" commutes I know of.


  1. Do pilots at your base have "crash pads"?  Have you tried looking to that as a way to save money versus hotels?  Maybe it doesn't happen often enough to be worth getting a crash pad?

  2. No, the reports about the commuting are NOT boring.  They are relevant for you, your family and even your PAX.  For one, I want to hear about how it goes, or does not, each cycle.  At some point, perhaps the next bid point, you might have to make some tough choices.  I hear you!!
    On the bright side, I finally figured out (most) of your blog's software.  While clunky and not up to your professional standards, it sort of works.  The + comments thing is ME, not the responses to this post - that I cannot find.  Ouch.  I did look for details and guess what.  Despite so many questions, I'm not leading this thing, so I'll curb my questions and comments.  As one with a *cute* daughter under one, there is little room for discussion about priorities.  I got it and thank you.  -C.

  3. There are crash pads....but I don't want to use one. As a line holder I'm betting on being able to commute to and from on a working day. Reserve pilots need crash pads as they never know when they will fly. A "cheap" crash pad runs $200-$300 a month. My hotel stays are under $45 per night out the door...and I can expect a reasonably clean room + breakfast.

  4. It's definitely not boring to hear you complain about it.  I am currently working on my certificates and ratings, with aspirations of one day making it to the airlines.  I too am married, though we don't have kids yet, and reading these posts have proven invaluable.  Thanks!


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