Saturday, June 11, 2011

Successul commute.....for the most part

So this episode left off with me sitting in an airport.

This was a hub for another airline. Most of my passengers were flying on my flight then connecting to go somewhere else. With the delay many would miss their connections. I've stopped feeling bad about passengers missing their connections. Don't get me wrong, I will fly as quickly and safely as possible to help, but they could have likely bought a direct flight from where we were.

The plane landed at 5:20PM. My Captain informed me of an issue.

Our tail anti collision strobe was inop. An MEL had been issued which required to flight to be done by civil twilight. We had to be on the ground in 3 hours thirty minutes. The flight was blocked for 2 hours 50 minutes. About 40 minutes to spare.

My leg. Two alternates and a full plane meant a max weight takeoff.

I climb at a very shallow, but fast rate to make up time. Ten minutes after takeoff our dispatcher advised if we had still been on the ground we would have cancelled as our hub was in a ground stop.

Cruising at Mach .80 (it wouldn't go any faster!) at FL370. Life was good. There was weather ahead, but it looked like we were on top. Then it happened.

"Due to airspace saturation descend and maintain FL290". We were more than an hour out. Thankfully we had a lot of fuel and the dispatcher changed our flight plan so we had just one alternate.

No we were heading INTO the weather. We had a choice to fly 200 miles out of the way or pick our way through the line. There was a hole showing on the RADAR. Not a big hole....but a hole.

I navigated around the storm clouds using the RADAR and my eyes. Here is the hole I flew through.

Once clear it was just light chop.

On descent into the airport I hit another 5 second wake turbulence from an invisible aircraft. At least I'm consistent.

Full ILS approach. Runway came into view at 400 feet.

We landed with 30 minutes to spare before sunset.

Plane put away. I had to find a way home.

I had three flights...really just two as one was leaving as I walked up the jetbridge.

My Captain missed his flight that literally passed as as we taxied into the gate area. He was headed to a hotel.

With my kit bag stashed away I called my travel wife. She filled me in on the gates and delays. Two hours till the next flight.

Dinner, sitting and more sitting. I saw a pilot I knew who is senior to me at the gate. We talked about the normal stuff (rumors, commuting, crazy Flight Attendants) and then the inevitable....he would get the jump before me. The good news was he was upgrading to Captain at the end of the month, so there would be one less pilot in front on me on my plane.

Turns out we both were denied the jump as a mainline pilot snagged it. Rush to the next gate.

Thankfully the flight was so delayed (90 minutes late) that most of the original passengers had given up. Every non-rev (over 30!) got real seats.

I had been awake for 19 hours at that point. Two and a half hours 1:30AM...the plane pulled into the gate. Home at 2:10AM.

Looking back, next time I think it would have been easier to head to a hotel and fly home in the morning. I slept until 10 AM today. If I would have gone to a hotel and slept, then commuted this morning I would have walked in the door around 9:30AM. Eh.

Time to head out with my family. Commute back down tomorrow night.

1 comment:

  1. Ouch!  A great post and one that connects well with the realities of the commuting life.  It is awful and you know it.  Perhaps September will change that in your favor.  I have to say, there are huge parts of this routine that I would not put up with. Hey! I'm also way older (over 60) informally retired and (now) board an airplane only reluctantly for pleasure-based travel.  Of course, I've got it: You have to fly!  Even at the (temporary) expense of family and sanity, you have to fly. The too often missed partner is the 'wife part' who tracks the available flights and loads necessary to get you home.  One might ask WHY do you put uip with this crap?  I know and I understand. It is in the bones and you just have to do it.  It is not pretty, but it will get better in time.  The wife and the two youngsters have a stable home and know who Daddy is. (Trust me: They value your time at home!) As you senority increases, yo can fly bigger machines or you can spend more (scheduled)  time with them.  The choices are often a challenge, but the decisions are pretty easy.  In my house, retiring as soon as was possible was a brilliant choice. I don't miss the otherwise stimulating work and a value the near full t ime experience with my family and freinds.  Best wishes, Geek.  -C.


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