Wednesday, March 14, 2012

It never got better

Finally recovered from my last 3 day trip...of course I start the same trip again today. I hope it goes better than last week.

The trip is a 3-4-3. Three legs on day one, four on day two and three legs on the last day.

The trip started well enough. Pushed out 5 minutes early. I took the first leg and landed at the outstation 15 minutes early.

The next two legs were the Captain's legs. We were doing the normal , "trade at the outstation" flying.

Day one ended one minute early to the overnight. Not a long duty day at just 7 hours 30 minutes. Of course I spent the morning with my daughter, so I had been up for 17 hours.

Day two looked long before I left the hotel. Weather....lots of it.

Sure enough when I called to get our clearance I was told to, "Call back 10 minutes to push as there are flow delays." Nice.

I called back 10 minutes delays for us. Nice!

Gusty, crosswind takeoff. My leg.

I hand flew the plane through 15,000 feet as there were quite a few build ups I was navigating around. Cleared up to FL220...normally we are given FL230. Hmmm.

Once level we were told to expect a hold at the next VOR. Ugh.

"Hold as published," was what we were told. EFC time was 40 minutes away.

The Captain looked for the hold on his low en-route chart. Not there. I transferred control of the plane to him and looked at my high en-route chart. Also not there. He queried ATC...."Ah....just hold on your inbound course." Fine.

Around and round we went. Thankfully the dispatcher loaded us up with fuel.

This was my first time holding in my "new" plane. Took my time programming the FMS. Done.

After 20 minutes we were released from the hold....but were speed restricted heading to the hub.

Weather. Bumps. Turbulence. Heavy rain. Ugh.

Blocked in 45 minutes late. Instead of a 70 minute sit we had 28 minutes. We had wheelchair passengers leaving the plane and coming back on to the plane for the next flight. This meant my flight attendants could not get off the plane for food or anything else. I asked if they wanted anything...they were ok.

Pushed back 10 minutes late. The wheelchair passengers + weather just added on to make things go slowly. My leg again.

Back through the same weather. Rain, turbulence and more turbulence. Blocked into the outstation 29 minutes late.

Originally we were told our return flight was delayed by 45 minutes. Fine with us. We all wanted a break.

I did my post flight and walked over to the base of the terminal and called my wife. I wanted some peace and quiet. No hurry as I thought I had 45 minutes. Then I saw bags being loaded.

Call done. Back up to the plane....they were boarding. Hmmm.

Headed up to the terminal for a restroom...I hate using the one on the plane.

Back on the flight deck I called clearance. No delays. Hmmm k.

Pushed back 28 minutes after we blocked in.

Captains leg. We were given 3 reroutes for weather.

The first was 300 miles LONGER. Not enough fuel. Thankfully the second reroute was only 90 miles longer. The dispatcher reworked our alternates to make it work.

This was the leg where I recorded the video for "The Light Show" post.

Blocked in 41 minutes late. Next flight was to leave in 4 minutes. Delayed for weather...and gum removal.

During the previous flight a passenger got air sick. They put their gum on the outside of the air sickness bag, then used the bag, then set the bag down on the seat next to them. The gum stuck to the seat. Nice eh?

Pushed out 43 minutes late. No amount of short cuts and flying fast would help. Blocked into the outstation 47 minutes late. Total of 8 hours and 52 minutes of flying on day 2 thanks to the delays. All of that in an 11 hour 42 minute duty day.

Same overnight as the previous night. Same hotel room even.

I slept halfway decently.

The next morning I checked on the status of the inbound. Delayed. Big time.

My Captain commutes from the out station so he was at home. I called the flight attendants and let them know about the delay and that we should take a 1PM van instead of a noon van. Done.

Pushed out of the outstation 80 minutes late. We only had an hour connect to the next flight...and it was on a different plane. We all hoped they would pull us from the flight and use reserves.

Rainy approach. Around 30 feet the wind picked up and pushed the plane up and over. I had to quickly add power and add more wind correction to avoid a nasty touchdown. Every now and then the squirrel gets the nut....I recovered perfectly and greased it on.

Blocked in 90 minutes late. We were all still working the last turn. There were zero reserves available. Fine.

Swapped gates. We all walked quickly to the next plane. The waiting area was full of upset passengers. If they only knew what we'd been through!

Thirty five minutes after blocking in...we were blocking out. That is very efficient if you consider we had to deplane, shutdown the first plane, gather our bags, walk to the next gate, stow our bags, preflight, board passengers and luggage,  setup the plane , run checklist and then block out...all in 35 minutes.


I bounced it onto the runway 2 hours later...blocked in exactly one hour late. We were all ready to be done. Twenty nine minute turn and we were out.

Captain's leg. He flew fast and also bounced it on. We both blamed the plane for our landings. Still arrived 50 minutes late.

The 3 day trip is supposed to have 19 hours 30 minutes of flying. I ended up with 21 hours 5 minutes worth of flying.

Not much weather this week. I hope for a much smoother trip.


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