Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dated, but interesting video on a commuting pilot

This looks like it was part of a CNBC report on American Airlines but it didn't make the final cut. This guy has a MUCH longer commute than I had.



Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Almost done for a bit

I'm on day 2 off my last month holding a line for a while.

I spent the weekend in San Francisco with family and to attend a wedding. The wedding was in a small town near San Jose on Sunday. I had to be in base Monday at 12:30PM. My wife and daughter were planning on going home on Monday afternoon.

After the wedding I headed to San Francisco and jump seated to my base. I had lots of options as SFO is a hub for a few carriers. I got a seat in the back and slept. Arrived late and headed to a hotel.

I'm currently on a two day trip. Day one was long....7.5 hours of flying, but just 3 legs.

The first turn alone was 6 hours 20 minutes. After getting back to base I had a 2 hour sit.

While walking through the terminal I saw a friend who recently upgraded to Captain. He was a fairly senior First Officer but is now the bottom Captain. Quite a change in quality of life. The quality of his paycheck went way up as it's almost double what I make as a First Officer.

We talked about work and I answered a few questions about being on reserve. He's been here about 6 years but never did much time on reserve. I've been on reserve more than not. He was being junior manned into a reserve day. I let him know the contractual pay he would get. After all said and done he will get paid for 10 hours for flying just 1 hour 10 minutes if he takes the option of not getting another day back in return and elects to be paid extra. Not too shabby.

Today is one leg into base and I deadhead home. I start training September 8th. Tomorrow starts a partial reserve month for me. Not looking forward to it...but I'm only on the hook for 5 days.

It's been a crazy 5 months commuting. This whole experience has really put me off commuting in the future. I'm sure it's mostly due to living in base for the first 2 1/2 years of my career. If I commuted from day one I would not know any different. I have friends that have been commuting from day one.

I expect to be in training from September 8th until mid October. I will then hit the Simulator and then off to the line for IOE. Training has been a little backed up, so it could be longer. I'm looking forward to being home for a bit. Not looking forward to sitting in a classroom, learning systems and such though.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Is it September yet?

I am a horrible commuter. I know this.

My sign in time for my trip was 9:45AM Friday morning. In theory I had two flights to get me there on time. My problem was the duty way was already estimated at 13 hours 15 minutes. If I commuted up early on the first flight (required to give myself two flights to get there), I would be awake for at least 20 hours. No thanks.

Instead I commuted up Thursday evening and got a hotel. I had to spend some money, but it was a safer option.

I met my crew at 10AM at the plane. I flew with the Captain a few years ago. Average guy.

The first flight was to JFK. Here is the schedule I had...of course only JFK is a "real" airport.

Flight 1: 4303 LEX 1030 JFK 1354

Flight 2 4599 JFK 1634 LEX 1818

Flight 3 5591 LEX 2130 MSY 0010

We left on time for JFK. My leg. The flight was heavily over blocked as JFK is known for delays and long taxi times.

Normal flight. Slowed enroute.

Assigned ILS 22L.Weather was just below VFR mins about 10 minutes out. While being vectored to intercept the final approach course (4 minutes from landing) the controller came back, "Regional 4303 sorry about this, fly present heading expect VOR/DME 22L"

No big deal. It's not a straight in approach. By giving us this approach they have more room and less spacing requirements for arriving aircraft.

My Captain loaded the approach into the FMS. I briefed the differences. Easy approach. Blocked in 2 minutes early.

Then it happened. Weather. Thunderstorm.

Initially I had a 2 hour 2 minute sit. My next flight cancelled.

My crew was reassigned to fly a later flight back to LEX leaving at 9PM. Our overnight was being given to another crew. Scheduled 14 hour duty day to the minute. Fine.

Ate lunch. Sat around. Chatted up with other crews who where stuck due to cancellations.

Around 5PM the gate manager asked if my Captain and I would move a plane off a gate and onto a hard stand. Reason being they needed more gates due to flights returning to the gate due to the new Passenger Bill of Rights. Fine.

We prepared the plane then called to push. Ramp said they would only let us push if ground would let us taxi. Hmmm. I called ground. Nope. Taxiway Alpa was blocked ALL THE WAY AROUND THE AIRPORT. Delays.

Shut the plane down. Back inside.

Back in the same plane at 8:45PM. Boarded up. Taxiway Alpha was still blocked all the way around the airport. Huge conga line.

To make matters worse another RJ was parked behind our plane as they ran out of gate space. Here came the waiting game.

We couldn't push until the another flight pushed and the ramp was able to move the plane from behind us to that gate.

While waiting a mainline pilot came down looking for a jump seat. No problem. We warned him about the delays. He was happy to just be going home.

Finally pushed at 10:15PM. The clock started ticking for the Passenger Bill of Rights.

We slowly edged toward taxiway Alpha. I called ground on 121.9. He said now monitor 121.65 and wait. And wait we did.

Planes slowly inched forward. Departures were ONLY using 22R. Arrivals 22L.

We had to be off the ground by 12:35AM local to make it back within 16 hours of duty.

Ground controllers changed shifts. Waiting.

At 10:50PM the jump seater said, "I bet they forgot about you guys."

In the back of my head I knew they had. I was hoping to just time out. Long day ahead and I knew I would get just 10 hours rest tonight. I called ground.

Ground: "Regional 4599 have you called 121.9 yet?"

Me: "Yes sir, I called at 10:18PM"

Ground: "Roger standby."

A few minutes later he made a hole for us...we lined up on taxiway Alpha.

While lined up there was a funny exchange between Ground and British Airways (call sign Speed Bird).

Ground: "Speed Bird 114 taxi to the ramp when able."

Speed Bird: "We'd rather go to London Heathrow if that's okay with you."

Ground: "Roger, taxi onto Alpha when able."

The British Airways pilot replied in the most calm, English accent which made the exchange so funny.

Back to my misery. We taxied via Alpa, to Echo, back down Bravo to Victor, across 13L then down Charlie.

There was a line of planes on 13L waiting for 22R. While on Charlie we were told to "Shut'em down if you're close to min fuel, it's going to be a while."


We had 2500 pounds of taxi fuel. We left the engine running. Before we hit min fuel we would time out.

Finally at 12:20 AM we were cleared for takeoff....15 minutes to spare.

Captains leg. He flew at MMO since it was smooth air.

We landed 3 hours 40 minutes after blocking out.....all for a normal 1 hour 30 minute air time flight.

The adrenaline from the approach left me. Tired. Fatigued. I read back the taxi instructions then asked the Captain what I just said. I had no idea. Thankfully we were the only plane on the airport. Captain understood the instructions.

Blocked in with 15 hours 30 minutes of duty. I had been awake 19 hours. If I had commuted in I would have been awake 23 hours.

We were all given a hotel since the reassignment caused us to miss our overnight. We were to deadhead at 11:05AM to catch up with our sequence.

Due to van issues we didn't get to the hotel until 3 AM. Captain called scheduling to advise we would not be at the airport for 10 hours. Reassigned a 1:50PM deadhead.

I was tired. My whole body just hurt. Pretty sure I was dehydrated .

Slept decently.

More weather. The 1:50PM deadhead flight didn't end up leaving until 4:20PM.

We missed our next turn but would make the overnight flight.

Snagged a first class seat. Napped.

Late. Still a little tired from the previous night.

Next plane was a POS. No APU... and one of the EICAS screens in the cockpit was MEL'd. Ugh.

Left on time. Short hop to Canada.

New York is very congested. Many of the departures involve heading and altitude restrictions based on DME.

Our climb out was a heading of 180 till 4.5 DME then a right turn heading 340 and cross the next radial at 5,000 feet.

Far different than the normal RNAV departures which simply requires hitting a button.


Decent landing, cleared customs and off to the hotel.

Last time I was in Canada I got $5 Canadian back in change.

For breakfast Sunday I was ready to rid myself of this maple money.

I went to a donut shop and played the old fashioned "Wheel of Fortune."

I told the employee I had $5 to spend. I asked for a muffin and coffee and she rang it $2.24. Hmmm then I asked for a maple donut, total $3.59. Then a maple donut with creme filling, total $4.97. Done!

One leg to base and done. Left on time. Uneventful. Now the commute home.

We arrived at 12:54PM. I planned on a 1:40PM flight on mainline. Twenty minutes prior to boarding a mainline pilot got the jump seat. Every flight was oversold.


Wanting to avoid more bumps I just did a two leg commute on my own airline. Longer...but less stressful.

Home. Flew 4 legs for 9 hours. Got paid for 16. I am ahead...but it was painful.

Off for a week. Looking forward to next month and going to long term training.



Sunday, August 21, 2011

Trip from hell

Supposed to be a 8 leg 16 hour 3 day trip.

I'm home and flew 4 legs, 9 hours and 3 days.

The worst was day one....a fifteen 30 minute duty day...for one turn....I got JFK'd. More tomorrow.

Happy to be home.

Monday, August 15, 2011


This has been a crazy sequence. Tiring...and I didn't fly that much.

Day 3 was a deadhead BACK to the base I deadheaded from on day 2. I thought the deadhead flight was a 1:35PM departure.

I left the hotel at 12:30PM. Arrived at the airport at 12:45PM and took my time walking to the gate. I checked the departure boards twice for the right gate and never noticed the departure time.

Approaching the boarding area I thought , "this flight is full, where are all the passengers?!?!?" Then I looked at the board....the flight departed at 1:05PM. Doh!

I was literally the last person to board. Lucky for me there was room for my bags. I've never been wrong about a departure time before.

Four long hours later I was back in the other base. My entire crew was on board as they misconnected the night prior.

Three legs. The first two were very short. He took the first leg out.

Lavatory was inop. Not a big deal on a short flight.

Low clouds and landing into the sun meant a difficult approach environment. Localizer only approach due to terrain. Caught the runway right at minimums about 2 miles out.

Quick turn and it was my leg. Short flight and we had a two hour break.

It had already been a long day. Then it looked like it would get worse.

The plane with the inop lav was the culprit. All remaining flights were well over an hour. Too long to go without a lav. Limited airplanes meant someone had to be delayed...and it would be our flight....two hour possible delay.

I state it was possible as it was still showing "on time" even though the plane we were to have used would not arrive until two hours after departure time. The mechanics were working hard on fixing the lav. I was dreading that long of a delay...another 15 hour duty day...arriving at the overnight well into the morning (way after midnight).

Thankfully the mechanics fixed the lav. Out on time Away we went.

Due to weather we had a much longer route than I was used to (I've flown this route 15+ times in the last 5 months). My leg. We were over fueled by 700 pounds over planned release. Well within takeoff and landing requirements. I climbed at 310 knots (instead of 290) and cruised at Mach.83...instead of .78 taking advantage of the extra fuel.

Landed 10 minutes early. Tired.

Got to the hotel at 12:20AM.

Today I was scheduled to deadhead back to my base at 2:20PM. This sequence was modified as I was displaced by a pilot needing IOE. Scheduling had to get me back to my base within 3 hours of my original time to comply with the pilot contract.

The commute flights from my base to my home looked horrible. Once I got in from the deadhead I would have just 3 flights to get home.

Instead I decided to try and get home from the overnight city.

The overnight was a major hub for two other airlines. I had a plan.

My first attempt would be on my own airline at 9:10AM. There was another pilot listed.....and he was senior to me. I could at least try.

Looking at the getting to the hotel at 12:20 and wanting to leave at 9:10AM was self imposed reduced rest. I wanted to have as much time at home as possible.

I woke up on my own at 6:45AM. Took at 7:40AM van. I was at the gate by 8:15AM.

The gate agent let me know about the other pilot. Twenty minutes prior to departure the other pilot was a no show. An offline pilot approached...he asked about the jump and the agent let him know I would get it.

Fifteen minutes to departure the pilot senior to me arrived.....and got the jump.

Me and the offline pilot looked at the departure board. The next flight was 10:25AM on an airline neither of us flew for.

I'm still new to commuting. I've only flown offline on 5 times in almost 4 years....but never on the airline flying the 10:25AM departure.

He quickly walked to the gate which was at the far end of the terminal. I whipped out my phone and looked up the number I stored (4 years ago but never used) to list for the jump. It seemed it was to the main reservations automated line. Hmmm.

I walked toward the gate. On the way I saw a gate agent and politely asked if she could look at the loads on the flight. She said it was overbooked by 3 but had no jump seaters listed. I then asked the proper way to list. She said she wasn't busy and listed me on the spot. This would become crucial later.

She was very nice and I noticed her name board on her jacket said she was a customer service trainer. Lucky me.

I headed toward the gate. When I arrived the previous offline pilot was there with another offline pilot. I stood back while they listed. I then handed my jump seat forms to the gate agent and took a seat in the waiting area.

The two pilots talked until about 15 minutes prior to boarding. The gate agent approached them and one pilot walked away. I grabbed my things and went close to the desk thinking an online pilot was taking the jump. Nope.

Because I listed 6 minutes prior to the other two and there was only one jump seat....I got it. If the gate agent had not listed me I would have had to find another way home.

Offline jump seats at my airline work the same way, whomever checks in first.

Off for 3 days. I do a crappy 3 day starting on Friday then I'm off for 7 days and come back for a 2 day.

It's all about timing.




Sunday, August 14, 2011

I got what I wanted...just not when I wanted it

Day 2 was a cluster F.

Supposed to fly one leg, DH to base and fly another leg.

I was hoping to misconnect to my deadhead as they gave me just 35 minutes between block in and the departure of the deadhead.

The Captain I flew with does IOE. He's a really nice guy and I enjoy flying with him.

During the first leg he said how out of place he felt as I was the first pilot he's flown with in over 2 months that hasn't needed IOE. He didn't know what to do with himself.

One day 2 it looked like we would block out early. Nope. Late bags. Things were looking good for a misconnect!

We left the gate 10 minutes late. Took off 20 minutes after scheduled departure.

I climbed out on profile. I flew 250 knots to 10,000 feet, 290 knots to around FL270 and transitioned to .74 Mach. Once at FL360 I cruised at Mach .785.

No luck. Computer showed arriving 10 minutes early. Damn over blocking!

We talked about pilots at my airline who make the job harder than it should be. Since my Captain has been around for a while (he's in the top 1% seniority) he knows a lot of pilots.

I'd tell a story about a Captain that I have problems with and he guessed the name first try. He'd then tell a story about a Captain he gave IOE to that was a problem, and I guessed the name first try. Only a small handful of guys...but they make names for themselves.

The arrival involves a bunch of step-down fixes. I've done it many times.

Finally on the approach. A thick layer of clouds was over the city..1000 overcast.

The runways are all parallel. During the approach the approach controller called out traffic for a parallel runway. We didn't see the traffic. The controller then cancelled our approach clearance. I chuckled. My Captain knew why....I was hoping to be delayed.

No such luck. We finally saw the other traffic and were recleared for the approach.

Nice landing and then we were delayed 8 minutes crossing the inboard runway due to traffic.

Blocked in 6 minutes early. Booo. I took my time packing my kit bag, doing the post flight and making my way to the deadhead. No matter how much I drug my feet I arrived at the gate 20 minutes prior to departure.


Four hours later I was back in my base. I had an hour and ten minutes before I was to depart. As is I was scheduled to be on airplanes for 8 hours 40 minutes but only flying in the cockpit 4 hours 40 minutes.

I grabbed dinner and headed to my gate. No airplane. Hmmmm. There was a lot of convective weather in the area.

I checked the computer. My flight was to leave at 5:20PM. The plane was still on the ground at an outstation and wasn't scheduled to arrive until 6:20PM....yet the gate display was still showing on time. Quite optimistic my airline is eh?

Headed to the crew room. I saw a pilot who is 1 junior to me. I haven't seen her in almost 4 years since we got hired though I do talk to her on Facebook.

She had her overnight cancelled and was looking at getting a hotel. In the back of my head I knew it could happen to me as well.

I ate dinner and kept an eye on the inbound plane and my schedule. Flight was delayed till 7:20PM giving me a 14 hour duty day.

At 6:50PM I checked and the plane was STILL on the ground at the outstation. It was estimated to arrive at 8:00PM meaning at best we would leave at 8:40PM. I had to be off the ground by 9:15PM in order to legally complete the flight inside of 16 hours (max duty day limit).

Flight now delayed until 8:20PM. Quite optimistic my airline is....a 20 minute turn with a crew swap.

I called scheduling at 7:40PM when the plane finally left the ground at the outstation. My new departure time was me just 5 minutes to push off the gate and get off the ground for a 16 hour duty day.

Scheduling saw the issue and was realistic. I was pulled from the flight. Because it wasn't my fault I was given a hotel room.

I now deadhead back to the same base I was deadheaded from yesterday. Kind of bummed as I will miss out on 6 hours of flight time. I get paid for it, but my Captain upgrade is coming soon....and I need to meet company mins on flight time. Every hour helps.

So today I deadhead out at 1:30PM. Four hours later I have an hour break and then start the first of 3 legs. The first two are really short....under 100 NM.

Tomorrow I am supposed to deadhead back to base and then commute home. I am pondering just commuting home from the out station.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Not going to rush

On an overnight.

Started a four day trip today. I had to be in base by 11:50AM. Easy enough seeing as I had 5 flights to get me there on time.

I packed last night and had only my tech to pack this morning.

My wife woke up at 5AM. I planned on getting up at 5:50AM, getting my daughter up at 6:20AM and leaving at 6:45AM to catch a 8:10AM flight. Planned.

I got up at 5:30AM. My wife left at 6AM. I turned the living room TV on to watch the news when the power in the living room went out. My house is only 7 years old. I knew what the reason was...I wired up a dimmer in the living room and apparently there was a short. I began troubleshooting. Tick, tock, tick, tock.

Yadda, yadda, yadda I decided to turn off the main breaker as there was still current running through the light switch wires even with what I thought was the right breaker turned off. When I turned the main breaker back on the cacophony of tech in my house (various security cameras and devices...remember I am a geek) woke my daughter up in a bad way. She was cranky.

Before I knew it the time was 6:35AM and I had not yet fed her.

At this point I was ready to throw in the towel and call in sick. I couldn't figure out what was up with the dimmer and had to take it out and wrap up the wires individually with electrical tape. My wife gets to spend the weekend having the living room lit up by lights from the dining room.

I took a breath and took my time. I promised myself a long time ago that I would never rush when it comes to my daughter.

I fed her, dressed her and began heading out the door. My normal tie was MIA. Ugh. Grabbed my backup tie I haven't worn in over a year.

I left the house at 6:55AM. Dropped her off at 7:10AM and headed to the airport. Frustrated.

The employee lot is a good distance from the terminal. I walked on the employee shuttle at 7:35AM. It took me 4 tries to get the back up tie on correctly as it is longer than my normal tie. I cleared security at 7:45AM and took the train to my terminal. Thankfully the flight wasn't full and I got a real seat in the back. I was the last person to board.

Landed in base at 11:20AM.

Signed in and made my way to my plane, dropped off my bags, preflighted and then grabbed my first meal of the day as I didn't have time to eat with all the electrical crap.

Departed on time. I'm flying with a very senior Captain that does IOE. I had to shed my bad habits and fly right.

He took the first leg....only leg of the day. Arrived early.

Lucky for me I'm overnighting in the city I grew up in. My dad met me at my hotel and we enjoyed a nice steak dinner at 50% off (crew discount!).

Tomorrow is a crappy day in my opinion.

Depart at 8:15AM and arrive 3 hours 30 minutes later at a different base at 9:45AM. I then have 35 minutes to make it from one side of an airport to the other to deadhead on mainline 4 hours to sit for an hour and then fly 2 hours to my next overnight. I have serious doubts about making the deadhead flight with just 35 minutes between when I arrive and that flight leaves. I'm betting I will miss it. When I contact scheduling about the tight connect time they didn't seem to think it was a problem. Bleh.

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Next month I am scheduled to go to training to fly a different aircraft. I'll be put in class with new hires and be pretty much like a new hire pilot during training. Could make for interesting...or really boring post.

My estimate is I won't fly again till late October. The good news is I will be based at home again. More later.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Commuting hasn't been easy....not even once

Back from vacation. Had a great week with my in laws in New York. My daughter (who turns one this week!) has been on 24 flights....amazing.

I had a two day trip that started on Sunday. Because of vacation/scheduling it was chopped up into a one day trip.

The original trip was:

Day 1:

Flight 9313 depart LEX 0845 arrive OMA 1115

Day 2

Flight 9401 depart OMA 0630 arrive TUS 0810

Flight 9444 depart TUS 1220 arrive ELP 1450

Flight 8551 depart ELP 1535 arrive LEX 1650

What I was assigned was just day 2 flying.

Deadhead on mainline flight 311 depart EUG 0700 arrive TUS 1110

Flight 9444 depart TUS 1220 arrive ELP 1450

Flight 8551 depart ELP 1535 arrive LEX 1650

Total of 8 hours 15 minutes in an airplane. Only 4 hours 45 minutes of me actually flying. The initial deadhead was 3 hours 30 minutes.

My dead head was fine. I debated calling in sick for the day to avoid wasting a day. Bleh...too honest to call in sick.

Ironically the next two flights from EUG to TUS cancelled. If mine had cancelled I could have gone home. Bleh. No luck!

Arrived in TUS. Grabbed a quick lunch and headed to the plane. My crew was already in the plane having had a 4 hour sit.

Captain was new. He already did the preflight as he thought I might be running late (I had to go from the mainline terminal to mine reclearing TSA).

I took the initial leg. Blocked out on time. Taxied into a 12 plane line for takeoff which is normal for this airport. Thirty minutes after blocking out I rotated the nose into the air. Somewhat tricky departure that must be hand flown. Done.

Planned for Mach .75 at FL280. Slow.

Weather was moving into ELP. Vectored around a bit. Assigned runway 27R. This runway is really bowed. The middle sinks noticably downward to make a U shape. This has thrown off many a pilot in the flare as they flare too high and bounce it on. Been there, done that.

Gusty headwind. Floated a bit but landed nicely.

Plane swaps at outstations are silly, but we do them.

Forty five minutes after blocking in we were blocking out on the next flight...on time.

Complicated ramp and airport. We were initially assigned a runway on the south side of the airport. Rain started. Taxiways clogged with arrivals and departures. We sat at the edge of the ramp for 20 minutes before ground got to us.

We were put into a line of aircraft to taxi east, then north through another ramp to a north side runway.

We blocked out with 11,900 pounds of fuel. Min takeoff was 10,900 pounds of fuel.

After 20 minutes of one engine and APU we were down to 11,500 pounds of fuel.

Forty minutes after blocking out we had 11,200 pounds of fuel. APU went down as it draws about 135 pounds per hour while the engine at idle burns 520 pounds per hour. Due to slow taxi movements we couldn't shut the engine down and just use the APU.

The computers fuel readout is like a 1976 Lincoln Towncar fuel gauge. It varies based on the incline, temperature and magic.

When we were on a decline the fuel read high, climbing an incline it read lower.

The taxiway to the runway was initially an incline. The fuel showed 11,050 pounds. On the decline it read 11,290 pounds. Eh.

An hour after block out we were cleared for takeoff.

Instead of going in a straight line (straight east) between ELP to LEX we had to go WEST, then north and finally east to avoid weather.

ETA was much for my 1750 flight home.

Three hours after blocking in the Captain made a nice 9 knot tailwind on a wet runway landing. Gate open. The flight was blocked for 2 hours 15 minutes. We blocked in at 3 hours 10 minutes.

My wife was monitoring my commute flights. We parked at C3. The next commute flight was leaving from 10 minutes. No way to make it.

I stashed my kit bag and made my way to B15 for a 7:10PM flight. Overbooked. The 5:50PM flight had an aborted takeoff and returned to gate. Several of those passengers were now waiting on the 7:10PM flight. I called my wife.

I started with, "It's not looking good. Heavy rain at the airport, overbooked flight and lines for takeoff were 20 planes deep. I'm not sure if I want to sit on a jumpseat for 4 hours."

She replied, "I hate you commuting. Every week it's the same thing, it's never easy. Not one single time!"

I understood her frustration. She understood mine.

After finding an empty gate I started looking at flights home the next morning. I found a two legger that was wide open that would get me in my car by 11AM. Back up done.

I was the only pilot listed for the jump. Then a thunderstorm moved in. Ramp closed. Flight delayed. Finally at 7:30PM boarding began.

A Captain from my airline arrived at the gate. He was deadheading.

He COULD take the jumpseat or a real seat. Since boarding had started the agents would have to pull a paying passenger to get him on. They persuaded him to go to a gate 5 down with a delayed flight that had not started boarding. He took the bait. 

If he had taken the jump I had already decided I would head to a hotel.

I got the jump.


Stopped by the flight deck and asked for a ride. Approved. Stashed my bag.

Over the last 5 months I have at least 70 hours in the jump seat. I've memorized the flap speeds and 1/2 of the First Officer flows.

At 10:06PM I was in my car driving home. I had left my house at 5:30AM. Long day. Over 11 hours in airplanes.

I'm off till Friday.

My next trip is interesting. I purposely traded into a trip with an IOE Captain betting I would be displaced. I was....but only for part of the trip. More later.

Oh and I'm betting you figured it out, all the city code and flight numbers in this post are for ease of reading only. The flight times are correct though.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Coast to Coast

Currently sitting a 7E on my way to visit my in laws. My wife is in 7D and my daughter is enjoying her 23rd flight in 7F. My daughter turns one in two weeks and must have set a record for number of flights in one year of life.

My trip was very smooth.

Day 2 was an out and back. I took both legs. Total of 7 hours flying with all of the weather delays.

Day 3 started well. I did however leave my toothpaste and toothbrush at the hotel. I didn't realize this until I arrived at the next overnight.

After the first leg we had a 2 1/2 hour sit. I checked in for my deadhead on day 4. I was on standby but when I checked in I got a real seat. This is important as once I have a seat it can't be taken away.

We left and arrived early to the overnight.

This hotel is kind of isolated. There is a very nice cultural center nearby I found a few months ago. A bit of a walk but they have awesome food.

Food, beer and dessert in hand I headed back to my hotel room. I checked on my deadhead and was surprised to see it severely overbooked. The flight after mine cancelled and most of the passengers were moved to my flight. If I had not checked in I might not have had a seat.

Food, beer and dessert in my stomach I went to bed early…got a great 10 hours of sleep!

The next morning came early with a 5:40AM van. The Captain lives in the overnight city and thus did not stay at the hotel.

I wheeled my bags off a curb to head to the van when it happened. My made in China all metal kit bag handle snapped off. Ugh. Glad it was on day 4. With no handle it was VERY awkward to carry.

We climbed in the van and headed for the airport.

Departure was set for 6:50AM.

I checked to see what reserve was being used to cover the rest of the trip (I was pulled off early due to my vacation). Some poor reserve was being deadheaded out of my base to sit two hours, to fly with my crew to another city, sit two hours and fly back to base. Total of a 13 hour and 55 minute duty day. Yowzers. The pilot was fresh off IOE. Welcome to the real world buddy.

We only had 15 passengers. All were on board at 6:25AM. We blocked out at 6:30AM….twenty minutes early.

My leg. With such a light load (we were 14,000 pounds under max takeoff weight) I put in the lowest possible takeoff thrust power setting to save fuel, wear and tear, and from me having to work so hard on takeoff with all the extra power.

Smooth takeoff. We got "stuck" behind another RJ from a different airline on our route of flight. They were doing 270 in the climb. Our normal is 290. We were assigned 270. With such a light load we climbed at 2000 feet a minute all the way to FL280.

If we had not been slowed we would have been very early.

I briefed my arrival and stated which high speed I planned on. Well during my flare the super light plane floated a bit more than planned. I greased it on and decided not to jam on the brakes and just catch the next high speed. Done.

Blocked in 10 minutes early. I began thinking of someway to fashion a handle for my kit bag……then it hit me.

I said adios to my crew and dug through my suitcase. I found a fabric belt from a pair of shorts and used it to make a handle for my kit bag. Didn't look great but it attached to my J hook and I was able to move around easier.

My dead head flight was delayed a bit. Scheduled for 9:20AM, we left at 9:50AM.

Arrived at my home airport (not where I'm based…..yet) at 3:00PM. Long flight

I had just enough time to head home, swap suitcases, load up my Zune with videos, eat dinner and load up my family to head back to the airport.

On the way I asked my wife to check the gate of our planned flight. Glad I did….the flight suddenly filled up! No seats for us. Thankfully my brother in law lives in driving distance of 4 airports we can fly into. I whipped out my laptop and rebooked us on a flight to a different airport. Done.

I'm off until August 8th. Time to enjoy some time away from airplanes.