Friday, June 17, 2011

Commuted home in daylight....for the first time

Day 4 started early. Four AM alarm clock for a 5 AM van. I normally don't get up that early, but I wanted to make myself breakfast (instant oatmeal with the coffee maker!) as it was a long day.

Clearing US customs THEN Canadian security seemed backwards. Seems like I should clear Canadian security first. Bleh.

Blocked out on time. Half full.  Captains leg.

Huge line of weather between us and the hub. Rather than go around we climbed over. If we had been full we would not have been able to go over and would have been forced to go around the weather.

Rain and low clouds at the hub had the potential to slow operations down. Thankfully it was early and the weather was already on it's way out.

Blocked in almost 20 minutes early leaving an hour till the next flight.

I called my wife as I knew she was in the car driving to work. I then spent a few minutes reading up on news stories and sipping an extra large Dunkin Donuts coffee.

For whatever reason this Captain was tired from when he joined us on Day 2. The short overnight on Day 2 was a valid reason for being tired but the long (17 hour) overnight on the last night should have been plenty. I myself went to bed at 8:40PM to make sure I was well rested. He was dragging for the entire trip.

I had the middle leg. Beautiful day once clear of the weather. While on downwind at 11,000 feet approach advised we would be vectored for a short approach. I slowed to 210 and began dirtying up the plane. Given a descent to 3000 feet. At 210 knots, flaps 20 and flight spoilers sticking out the plane descended at 2600 feet per minute.

After being vectored for a base turn I called the airport in sight. I noticed the runway was extremely bowed. The approach end was reported at 990 feet while the departure end was 1015 feet. Huge U shape. I took that into account during the flare as it could end up in a sooner than expected touchdown using the runway as guide.

Worked out fine. Taxi'd in 15 minutes early. Lunch time!

Grabbed lunch and ate in the cabin. One of the rampers had taken a seat in the cabin too cool down. It was 98 degrees outside. The ground air was really kicking as the cabin was a chilled 68 degrees. We chatted about work, life and kids. Thirty minutes prior to push I was back up front loading the last flight.

I used to cringe flying out of this particular airport. Just too damn confusing, mostly because it was foregin to me. On this day it was fine.

Our efforts to get back super early were thwarted by traffic due to weather. Originally we would have been 30 minutes early arriving at 12:00PM. This would have been great as I hoped to catch a 12:55PM flight home.

Landed at 12:21PM. Gate at 12:25PM. The Captain had a 1:05PM flight. He told me I could head out and he would get the post flight as my flight was earlier. I didn't give it a second thought.

We parked RIGHT infront of the crew room. I stashed my kit bag and headed for the next gate. Arrived at 12:40PM. There was another pilot listed. I knew him...a very senior Captain.

Sure enough he walked up. "I thought you retired or had died," was my greeting. He laughed. He was in a hurry himself as he blocked in a few minutes after me. Boarding was already in full swing. His name was called for the flight deck jump seat. I would be rolled over to the next flight at 1:40PM.

On my way to the gate, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a pilot I thought I recognized from my time at ATP. Big crowd, I didn't stop.

A few minutes later that same pilot was at my gate. Sure enough it was him. I introduced myself. He flew for a different regional and was hoping to get a ride home. Once he saw me he knew I would get the jump before him (I'm an online jump seater since I fly for the mainline carrier flying the flight and thus have priority over him). We chatted a bit then I began looking for a way for him to get home.

Since I fly for the mainline carrier I can see some passenger load data and nonrevs on flights. I gave him a few ideas and then my name was called for the flight deck jump seat.

Boarding was going very slowly as the gate agent was being strict on carry on bag sizes. The majority of passengers overpack. They stuff their carry on bags to the brim and then stuff them into the overhead bins. The problem is behind the bins are the overhead light bulbs that shatter when the pressure on the bins reaches a certain point.

Several passengers were upset as ,"their bag always fits". TSA and airport security were called to supervise.

First stop was the flight deck where I formally asked for a ride home. No problem. I then stashed my roller board (which fit without stuffing....I know how to pack) and headed back out to the jet bridge to stay out of the way.

Also on the jet bridge was a jump seating flight attendant.

Boarding finished. There was an open seat in first. The gate agent said there were 50+ standbys, but the boarding process took too long and she didn't want to delay the flight. The jump seating flight attendant took the seat in first. I was fine with it was it was her airline and the flight attendant jump seats are much more uncomfortable than the flight deck jump seat.

The jet bridge pulled away and the crew got the final passenger count. The Captain was upset to hear there was an open seat with so many standby's. If he had known there was an open seat he would not have allowed the jet bridge to be pulled. Eh.

I walked off the plane at 4:50PM. My wife and daughter picked me up at 5:00PM. It was my first time commuting home with the sun shining and with them awake!

She drove me home to change clothes and then we all headed back to the airport as my mother in law was passing through on her way back home.

Two more trips this month. I'm done with Canada....for now. Bidding closes in a few days for July. I think I am going to preference working Saturdays OR Sundays and being able to commute to and from on working days. This will almost certainly mean the crappy 4-5 leg days eastern seaboard flying. Eh.

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