Sunday, July 17, 2011

Four for Three

My last trip was a 4 day. Double Canada overnights. Not my favorite, but I traded into it so I could be home Saturday night to attend a get together with friends.

My original line was a Thursday thru Sunday. This new trip was Wednesday thru Saturday finishing at noon. I would commute home on a 1:15PM flight, walk in my front door at 5PM and head out around 5:45PM.

On day 2 things got screwy. After coming in from Canada our operations advised our next flight cancelled as the plane we were to fly was broken at an outstation.

I checked my schedule. My crew now had a 5 hour 5 minute sit in this airport....which was bad. We were assigned a 9 hour 15 minute overnight (original was 15 hours in the same city)....which is bad. The next day we were assigned 3 legs and would be done on day 3....but paid for the full original trip....which is good.

Overall it was good considering I was getting off a day early.

Our contract states any sits over 5 hours we get a hotel room. My crew discussed it and decided to not get a hotel as it would take 30 minutes to get from the airport to the room and 30 minutes back leaving 4 hours. Of course we had to be back 30 minutes prior to departure so that left 3 1/2 hours. Add 20 minutes to arrange the hotel. Eh. Not worth it.

My Captain bought us all lunch. One of many meals he would end up buying.

Time went fast. Before the flight the Captain bought us all coffee.

Quick flight. We arrived 17 minutes late giving us an 8 hour 58 minute overnight.

Short night. The next morning I met my crew downstairs. The Captain was called the night before advising our show time was adjusted by 2 minutes...later. Reason? Our flight attendant was a reserve and needed 9 hours of rest in order for scheduling to assign him additional flying.

This is pencil whipping at it's finest. The flight attendant contract states they can't be disturbed while on an overnight or their clock starts all over. Ours doesn't have that clause. The Captain chose to answer his phone and thus was notified that we were to arrive INSIDE the airport 2 minutes later than scheduled. Of course the hotel van runs on a schedule and thus left on time. Once we arrived at the airport my Captain and Flight Attendant enjoyed a cigarette before heading in....two minutes later than scheduled.

My Captain bought us bagels and cream cheese.

Blocked out early. My leg. Very light load....a whole 5 passengers. I apologized for my landing before we took off. Light weight landings are much tricker than heavy landings.

Beautiful day...calm winds...and a light airplane. Sure enough at 10 feet it all looked well. I idled the engines and flared....whap. Not horrible...but not great.

Plane swap and an hour break.

My Captain bought us all coffee.

The next flight was to DCA. Due to traffic volume we flew at a whole 16,000 feet.

Initially assigned runway 19 via the river visual. While following the river we were switched over to the tower. Tower re-cleared us to land runway 15.

Captains leg. In his entire career he's landed on 15 only once before. I was offered 33 once....and chose to stick with runway 1 as runway 5 is very short.

The Pentagon sits right infront of runway 15. It was beautiful day and the Captain felt a little odd about flying at low altitude right over the Pentagon. He decided to stay fly left of the Pentagon and then swing it over. Done.

Minimum landing distance for the weight of the plane and the weather conditions was 3500 feet if we used maximum braking and maximum thrust reversers. Runway 15 is 5200 feet long. Of course we don't land at the end of the runway. Landing on the 1000 foot markers left 4200 feet....a 700 foot cushion before rolling into the water. Not a lot of wiggle room.

My Captain was right on the PAPI. Minimal flare, very....very firm landing. Heavy braking and maximum reverse. Slowed to taxi speed right after crossing runway 22.

Ninety minute break. Captain bought us all lunch.

My leg next. Scheduled arrival 4:45PM. I listed on the 5:10PM flight for my commute home. Tight.

Blocked out on time. Runway 19. Assigned to track the 185 radial from DCA outbound. Easy.

Quick over blocked flight. I did fly a bit fast. Assigned runway 27. Winds were 040@06...slight tailwind.

With the tailwind minimum landing distance was 4100 feet. Runway was 9000 feet long. Not an issue.

Decent landing. Long taxi. Blocked in at 4:15PM. I thanked the Captain for all the meals (I think he bought me 4 in 3 days!) and headed out.

I made my way to the crew room and stashed my kit bag.

Arriving at the gate I saw a mainline jump seater. Ugh. Checked the non-rev list. Flight was full. No luck for me.

The mainline pilot got the jump seat. I headed to the gate for the next flight at 6:05PM. On my way I saw a Captain from my airline. He's a great guy and I enjoy flying with him. I wasn't happy too see him though as he was commuting to my home city as well.

Full flight. He got the jump seat.

Frustrated. There was  4:30PM flight (call it flight 800) that was delayed till 7:15PM. There was also another flight scheduled to leave at 7:15PM (call it flight 801).

Most passengers aren't travel savvy. The passengers on flight 800 have been going gate to gate hoping for a seat on another flight since theirs was delayed.

Sure enough most were waiting for flight 801. I made my way to flight 800 since I was betting on getting a real seat and not a jump seat.

Things worked out like I thought. I got a real seat on flight 800. Flight 801 went out full. Passengers who were originally on flight 800 missed flight 800 and flight 801. If I would have tried for flight 801 I would have had the jump seat. Score for me.

Long flight. I arrived home in time to see the 10PM news.

I have 5 days off before I go back.

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