Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Crazy day....and lucky I'm not qualified to fly every plane in the fleet

Today is day 4. One leg to base then I commute home. That's what was planned....really it was on paper. Eh.

Departure was scheduled for 3:30PM with a 6:45PM arrival in base. My commute flights home were all full due to weather. It wasn't looking good.

Around 10AM I checked my schedule. My flight cancelled. I (along with my Captain) were deadheading on a 12:20PM flight. I called him and we agreed on a 11:45AM van (short drive).

We arrived at the airport at noon. Plane running late. Then a totally unforseen problem. Due to the hot and high airport AND having two alternates...the plane was restricted by 14 seats. In my 3 years I have only been weight restricted once....and that was just one passenger.

The flight wasn't full, but with the 14 seat restriction they were asking for volunteers. It's complicated, but as dead headers...on this day we were standby.

My Captain called the dispatcher to see what's up with the weight restriction. The Captain flying the flight was a guy I knew well. They both worked on the weight restrictions. The flying Captain was able to get 800 pounds of relief by using different alternates. That allowed all the passengers...but us on. It left without us.

The worst part was that was (due to cancellations) the last direct flight to base.

The gate agent then became a miracle worker. He booked us on a connecting flight....THROUGH WHERE I LIVE! First class (for the first flight) no less on mainline.

Once in base the connecting flight to my base was full. No worries, I wouldn't be going.

On taxi out we saw the flight on our airline still on the hour later. Something was up.

The Captain and I both had First Class seats. Short flight. Once on the ground the Captain checked his schedule. He was Junior Manned to fly the next morning. As was I...from where we just left. Scheduling THOUGHT we were on our own airline flight and not on the mainline flight. That flight had cancelled due to a mechanical.

Now we were in quandry. I won't get into all the contractual details, but we were both holding the upper hand. He headed off to commute to his home. I got on the phone with scheduling.

Forty five minutes later (I had time to take the employee bus to my car and drive 90% of the way home on hold!) they picked up. I was then assigned to deadhead back on a flight leaving in 20 minutes. No joy. I stated I needed dinner. Given a flight leaving 3 hours later.

Once home I assessed the situation. They wanted me to dead head back for an 8 hour overnight. Then fly to a different base in the morning and deadhead to my base and then I would commute home. All for junior man pay, which while nice, isn't worth it too me.

After feeding my daughter and eating dinner I called back. During the hold time I noticed there was no Captain on the trip. My Captain got out of it.

Around minute 30 on hold I saw there was a Captain who had been reassigned. He was flying in late tonight was would be given 8 hours of rest. The flight would go out 3 hours late. This meant if everything worked perfectly I would get home around 11PM tomorrow night. Ugh. Getting tired.

An hour after I first called they picked up.  I asked why they couldn't reassigned the Captain and First Officer who were flying in tonight. While he found an answer I was on hold again. Then I noticed the tail number and equipment type of the flight. Ding! It was a different fleet type, one that I am not currently qualified on. I got out of it and was able to "surface" my way home. Scheduling is supposed to return me to base (and get pay me for it). I can opt to find my own way...but no pay. Since I was already at home...done deal.

If I had done my original flight I would still be in base as the flights have been full and mainline jump pilots have taken the jump seat. I got very lucky today.

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