Friday, July 29, 2011

Nick of Time

I've said it before, I'm a bad commuter. I don't take chances by taking the last flight that will get me too work. I go early.

There are 14 flights a day on my mainline partner between where I live and where I'm based. Add in flights from other carriers and I have at least 20 options a day.

I had a report time of 4:05PM Thursday for my 4 day trip. I decided to take the 10AM flight that would get me in at 1PM leaving 3 hours and 5 minutes of cushion. I've taken this same flight the last few weeks.

Before I left home I noticed my flight was delayed till 11AM. There was a 10:50AM flight that was still on time. Hmmm.

I didn't think much of it. Instead I spent a few more minutes with my daughter before dropping her off at day care.

Arrived at the gate and was happy to get a real seat at 10:45AM. The 10:50AM flight went out full with a jump seater. At 11AM the flight was delayed further until 11:45AM. A Captain I know from my airline arrived and was hoping for the jump seat. He wasn't happy to see the delay as he had to be in base by 1:40PM.

At 11:45AM the flight was delayed until 12:30PM. The Captain split to find another way. I called Crew Scheduling to let them know I might not make it by show time. The scheduler took a look and said to keep her advised.

The 12:05PM flight was full with a jump seater. Ugh.

At 12:30PM the flight was delayed again until 1:15PM. All the delays were for a mechanical issue.

Finally boarded at 1:20PM. Estimated arrival 4:05PM. Right at report time.

I took my seat and closed my eyes, everything was out of my hands.

The mains touched the runway at 3:53PM. Gate at 3:57PM. I was in row 11. I patiently waited as the passengers got off the plane. I grabbed my suitcase and quickly walked up the jet bridge in search of an open computer.

At 4:03PM I signed in...2 minutes to spare. I'm sure there is some leeway of a few minutes, but I haven't been that close in a long time.

I've heard of pilots giving scheduling the heads up that they will miss sign in time, but will get the flight out on time. The pilot signed in late, flights goes out on time and the pilot STILL gets a "late sign in" mark on his permanent record. Crap.

After I signed in I quickly walked through the terminal to the crew room to find my kit bag. My previous Captain did me a HUGE favor by bringing my bag to the crew storage room so I could make my flight. The bag was right where he said it would be.

I grabbed my bag and walked onto the plane at 4:19PM to see a Captain I have a good time flying with.

He has a really good sense of humor.

Preflight done.

I took my seat and began setting up the plane. The Captain stated he only landed once in the last three weeks.

His regular FO is a new hire on probation and was happy to fly every leg but one for the experience. I told my Captain no thanks, we can switch off. Ha!

First leg was mine. Assigned runway 27R. Landing to the west into the sun. Assigned a visual.

On downwind I had the airport in sight. Turning

The sun was in my eyes. The approach was loaded in the FMS and I had the ILS tuned in as a back up. Glad I did.

Initially I rolled out visually and was lined up with a highway that paralleled the runway. I was still 7 miles out. I cross checked and turned left a smidge...done. I simply flew the localizer and glide slope to the runway, flight director turned off.

Captain flew back to base and the leg to the overnight. Climbing through FL240 we got a Master Caution, "PAX OUTER DOOR HNDL". Hmmm.

I checked the appropriate checklist. Stated if pressurization is fine and the door shows closed, no action required. I called my flight attendant and had him verify that his handle and indicators were showing closed. They were.

The light went out. I advised my FA. The Master Caution came on two more times. For the last hour of the flight it was out. Good.

Pulled into the gate one minute early. My FA called the hotel to make sure the van was coming. We aren't required to do this. In theory if we are on time the hotel van is supposed to be waiting. They rarely are.

The hotel said the van driver was still at the hotel and to take a cab. Fine with us as the hotel pays for it.

We found a taxi. The cab driver was the normal scary driver who had no idea where he was going even though there was a GPS on the dash. I used my phone (I love Android) to give him directions.

I've said it a hundred times....ok maybe 15 times. Commuting sucks.

Out and back today to the same hotel I'm at now. I fly both legs, Captain flies both legs tomorrow.

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