Friday, August 31, 2012

Games people play

I start recurrent ground on Saturday. Had a 2 day trip Thursday and Friday. This will be a short post.

My wife works in an office. All her co-workers are...well co-workers. She doesn't understand why I am so adversarial with scheduling.

I'm not rude, but I'm not friendly either. I am very matter of fact. All contact between me and them is by the book. If I have to contact them I will, otherwise I play the game.

My training for recurrent starts Saturday and is 10 days long. I have one day off in the middle.

Our crew scheduling software has issues recognizing training days and training days off.

When I arrived to start my 2 day trip the computer stated I had a 7 day conflict as the software showed me working 12 days in a row. There was a message to call crew scheduling.

I didn't feel like waiting on hold for 15+ minutes. Instead I went into the Chief Pilots office and advised them of my issue. They have a direct line to scheduling. They called for me. Scheduling knew I was there. Done.

Due to Hurricane/Depression/Storm Issac my overnight was canceled the day BEFORE I started my trip. I simply had 2 day trips (glad I don't commute!).

First turn was long....a bit of weather. Sixty knot winds at 1500 feel AGL.....40 knot winds at the surface. Bumpy approach and later a bumpy takeoff and climbout. Done.

Next turn was short. Low clouds at 300 feet AGL...full ILS approach. I still love the adrenaline rush during a full ILS...will the approach lights be visible? Will the runway be visible? Both were. Done.

Heading back to the hub I requested our gate assignment using ACARS. Along with the gate came crew assignments. I was expecting nothing as my overnight cancelled. However I was assigned a different overnight theory.

My contract has lengthy sections covering reassignments. Since I was the bottom guy for 2+ years I have become very knowledgable in my contract. This was an attempt to reassign me. It wasn't a legal reassignment per the contract. Two way communication is required. A representative of management or scheduling would have to meet me at the gate and talk to me in person to reassign me. If that occured I would ask them what section they are using to reassign me and I would need time to prepare as I was not expecting an overnight. I needed to eat and make sure I had supplies for the overnight (contact lenses, appropriate clothes and such).

Arrived on time. Pulled into the one there. I did my post flight and headed out the door. My phone began ringing, but I chose not to answer. I pay my cell phone bill, not my company. I could just as easily not have a cell phone. It rang several times. Google Voice handles all my phone calls. I saw I had a few voicemails from scheduling. Headed home.

Staffing the airline isn't my issue. I am bound by my contract. I follow it. If management and schedulers fail to comply...that's their issue. I slept in my bed last night just fine.

This morning I read my voicemails (again Google Voice is awesome, free transcription). Scheduling vaguely threatened me with a "missed assignment" for not calling them back as they stated I was contractually bound. A "missed assignment" goes on my permanent record. I wasn't worried. I checked my record. Still clean. They made that statement hoping I would get "scared" and call them back....many have made that mistake before.

Burn me once...shame on you.....never going to burn me again.

Back to studying my profiles, limitations and memory items.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Back in 10

Studying up for my recurrent checkride and First Officer ATP....been studying for about a month. More later.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

11.5 hours one day

It was supposed to be a pretty easy 2 day trip worth 9 hours 20 minutes.

Day one was 5 legs worth a total of 7 hours 55 minutes. Quite a bit of flying.

The Captain was a guy I had flown with before. He's nice, funny...but has two odd quirks. He doesn't like flying anywhere near weather other than blue clear skies. He also likes to hot dog it and fly fast towards the runway and slow down at the last second.

The last time I flew with him his apprehensiveness about the weather affected my mood and flying. He would become very concerned about the slightest RADAR return. It was worse if he couldn't see the weather due to IMC or night time.

I reported for duty at 6:10AM. Blocked out 9 minutes early at 6:46AM. I let him take the first leg. Weather.

Rerouted around the north side. He was overly cautious in our diversions. I am a safe guy, but there's safe and then there is paranoid. I'm just safe.

[singlepic id=528 w=320 h=240 float=]

Leg was was blocked for 1 hour 15 minutes. We blocked in 10 minutes late. Total flight time 1 hour 34 minutes, 19 minutes over block.

Weather re-route. Thunderstorms 10 miles south of the field. My leg.

I briefed the departure and that I'd make a shallow climb and work my way around the weather.

Blocked out at 9:04AM....19 minutes late.

A few bumps. The headings I chose looked safe to me...even the center controller watching over us....but not good enough for my Captain. Fine.

Left and right...nothing too bad.

I don't like to hot dog it. I don't own the plane, I just fly it.

Our manuals state that for a VFR approach I have to be "on speed" and "stabilized" by 500 feet above field level. For IMC...1000 feet.  This means small speed corrections for wind/bumps and normal maneuvers to land. By being stabilized it's very easy to "grease" it on in the touchdown zone without any crazy flying.

I strive to be stabilized and on speed by 500's not hard.

Normal approach and landing. Blocked in at 10:46. That's 46 minutes late....and 27 minutes over block.

Plane swap. Inbound aircraft was  late. Blocked out at 11:27AM.....Once again 27 minutes late. Still my leg.

Worked around weather. Lots of turns. Captain Paranoid sitting to my left. Landed at an airport that's also a military base.

The runways have arresting cables used for carrier practice. We can land on them, but it's not very comfortable...a big thud. Instead we land past the cables. No big deal...once again a VFR approach.

The cables are about 2000 feet down the runway. The runway was 13000 feet long. I simply briefed and flew an approach to land beyond them. Runway was so long I didn't use much braking and coasted a good 6000 feet before even thinking about slowing down. Done.

Blocked in at 1:23PM. Twenty eight minutes late...and 1 minute over block.

Rerouted. Original reroute would have taken 2 hours 45 minutes.....or 35 minutes over block. My Captain had a different idea. He called the dispatcher. Refiled.

Blocked out at 1:51PM.....26 minutes late. Clearance didn't have our new flight plan. Waited a minute then simply asked them to put it in for us. Done.

Worked our way around the weather again.

[singlepic id=529 w=320 h=240 float=]

VFR approach. He hot dogged it and floated....a lot. Bleh.

Blocked in at 4:14PM......39 minutes late and 13 minutes over block. Weather really moving in.

Plane AND terminal swap. Also a cabin crew swap.

Thankfully it wasn't far.

The passengers were already boarded up as the cabin was crewed by reserves already at the airport. Pre flight duties done. Blocked out at 4:37PM. Just 7 minutes late.

Long line for departure.

We had two destination alternates.

Min takeoff fuel was 7100 pounds. We left the gate with just 7400 pounds.

The 7100 min take off was broken down as follows:

4200 was for getting to the destination plus the 45 minute reserve

1800 was to get to the first alternate

850 was to get to the second alternate

250 pounds was for holding

Tower said all departures north, south and west were on an indefinite hold.

I asked, "Okay is it okay if we shut them down?", "Affirmative shut them down." was the response.

"Them" in referring to the engines. APU already on, the engines went silent.

Our APU burns about 120 pounds per hour when supplying air and power. At the time we shut the engines down there was about 7250 pounds in the tanks.

Heavy rain and wind. Only a handful of arriving flights landing in front of us.

I used the FMS to message our dispatcher and ask if we still needed both alternates as we didn't have much wait fuel.

Thankfully the weather at our destination changed to VFR, no alternates needed. Now we had 2000+ pounds of fuel to wait it out. And wait we did.

There were about 11 other aircraft waiting with us. Lightening in the area closed the entire ramp. No bags, no fuel, no boarding. Over the next 2 hours 6 flights returned to the gate for fuel, fatigue of the crew or due to the passengers bill of rights.

Around 6:50PM the weather was lifting. Tower called and asked how long we needed to get ready, "Five minutes" was my response. "Start them up and let us know when you're ready," was the response from the tower.

"To all flights waiting to go we have permission for just 4 westbound departures." tower stated.

My flight was number 4.

One, two, three flights left. Our turn.

I ran my final flow and we lined up on the runway.

Then it happened.

"Sorry center just closed the west gate, taxi across the runway and do a one eighty and hold short."


My Captain was getting tired. He has two day back to backs. He let me know if we had to wait much longer he'd have to fatigue out.

At 7:10PM tower stated we were next. At 7:18PM I called our "VR" and my Captain rotated the nose into the air.

Moderate rain and chop.

[singlepic id=530 w=320 h=240 float=]

An hour and nine minutes later we were back on the ground.

We blocked in 2 hours and 42 minutes late and flew 2 hours and 35 minutes over block.

Total block time for the day? Eleven hours and thirty minutes on the nose.

A rule in 121 flying is "legal to start, legal to finish". This means if I was legal to start the trip I am legal to finish the trip, even if I fly over 8 hours. I can't be scheduled to fly more than 8 hours and I have to fly my original trip and flight numbers. The only barrier is a 16 hour duty day.

We had to be off the ground by 8:30PM local time in base to remain within 16 hours. Fourteen hours is a normal duty which can be extended to 16 hours for weather or schedule irregularities. We took off at 7:18PM so we had just over an hour to spare.

Total duty day was 14 hours 37 minutes. The Captain and I were exhausted.

Normal rest would have been 11 hours. We could be reduced to 9 but then had to have 12 the next night. We had 10 hours 40 minutes of rest.

I slept decently.

One leg into base. Mine. VFR. Captain was relaxed. Calm winds. Stabilized approach. Smooth landing. We blocked out 9 minutes early and blocked in 18 minutes early.

Total block for the 2 day trip? Twelve hours Fifty One minutes.


Due to all the extra flying my next trip was affected.

I was due to start at 4 day trip on Tuesday worth 19 hours. I can only fly 30 hours in 7 days. As is I was estimated to fly 32 hours in 7 days. The fix? Scheduling removed the last 2 flights off my next trip. Problem. My next trip goes through another base. The fix ? I deadhead home.

There is a bit of good news....due to training and vacation for September I'm off September 11th thru the 27th. Not too shabby. I only fly one 4 day trip.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Wow a PDC!

It's been almost a year since I changed aircraft. What happens to pilots at least once a year? Required training. For me though...this's a bit more involved.

All pilots at US airlines must have an ATP by August 2013. My airline is doing this during the month pilots normally get annual training.

My "base" month was originally November....back in 2007. Then it was January as I took time off to spend time with my daughter back in 2011. Now it's September as that's when I changed aircraft.

I am scheduled to go to training starting September 1st. I will get a few days in ground school, a few sim sessions and then my ATP ride. Nervous ? Not really. Stressed? You bet!

I am scheduled to finish everything September 10th. I hit vacation September 15th.

My plan is to bid so I won't actually fly a flight until late September. This will be done by maximizing my vacation time.

My last 4 day was long. Twenty one hours. I did get to spend an extra night at home due to the overnight flight canceling.

Most of the airports I visit are small. I have to get ATIS and the clearance over the radio...the old fashioned way. One turn on this trip was to a "bigger" airport. I was pleasantly surprised by getting digital ATIS and a PDC! A PDC is a digital version of a flight clearance. It's all done through ACARS and the onboard FMS. Rather than call and scribble down the clearance, it's all printed on a piece of paper. Saves time and reduces the chance of making an error.

I finished the trip at 6PM Thursday. I'm off today (Friday), go back tomorrow morning for 6:55AM departure. Five legs later I finish the day. Sunday it's one leg into base and done at 11:40AM.

Off Monday...and another 4 day Tuesday....though I might trade for a trip leaving on Wednesday.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Approach plates don't always mean you're safe

Interesting....and eye opening post about how, just because you fly the approach plate to the inch, doesn't mean you're safe.

It's long so I will just post the link:

13 days off....ugh

I just finished a 20 hour 4 day trip Friday night. I thought I was off until Tuesday as I start another very similar 4 day next week. Nope I go back Monday evening.

My 4 day starts late Monday and finished at 6PM Thursday. I'm off Friday. I then come back for a 2 day Saturday morning. Off Monday. Then another 4 day the following Tuesday.

Next month will be better....I have vacation.


Friday, August 10, 2012

Thank George I'll take it from here!

Remember what those Monty Python boys said, "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition"

Day 3 started ok...except for a bunch of rain and storm clouds all around. Inbound was on time. Departure was set for 1:25PM.  I was able to do my preflight without the rain. Mother nature was kind enough to wait until I was done to start the downpour.

The rain was so heavy we could barely see 1000 feet. Didn't last long. We had a good look at the RADAR on our phones before pushing back. Plan was to get a right turn out, hug the coast (stay within 50 NM as we have no life rafts!) and then work our way around the weather.

Thankfully the rain lifted. My leg. Only had to fly about 30 miles off the coast before taking a turn to go around the weather.

The rest of leg 1 was fine. We did pass over the airport for leg was surrounded by weather.

Normal landing in base. Arrived 20 minutes early. Grabbed some food as legs 2 and 3 were long. By the time we got back to base most food options would be closed.

About 30 minutes prior to departure both myself and my Captain were studying the RADAR on our phones. Nothing looked good. There was a hole...a gap...but it looked like it would close up before we arrived.

We had an alternate that was 150 miles on this side of the destination.

My leg. I briefed the departure and discussed the idea of flying far around the south side of the weather. The fuel load was in our favor.

We had enough fuel to get to our destination, alternate, 45 minutes, 30 minutes hold and another 40 minutes "contingency" fuel. Contingency meaning working around the weather.

Normal takeoff. I ate my snack and enjoyed the first hour of great VFR weather.

About 30 minutes out the RADAR...and my windshield...started filling up. Time to get to work.

The weather was a solid wall. My idea of going south around the weather was closed. Other aircraft headed the same direction who wanted to go south were now going north.

ATC advised they would have to go 200+ miles north to get around the weather. On that news everyone I heard was going to work their way through it.

We discussed our options. The RADAR was a wall...but there were sections of green (meaning light returns) between all the red.

One problem is we can only see a small cross section of the weather. Aircraft based RADAR only shows a small section...a slice. I can tilt the RADAR to show weather above or below the aircraft, but eventually I would be painting the ground or the sky....meaning it's a learned skill on using the RADAR and often I rarely get the full picture.

Weather at the airport was VFR. The wall of weather was stationary.

"Cleared to deviate left and right, when able proceed direct to the airport" came through my ears.

I began a descent and briefed my plan. My Captain agreed. We each had a different tilt to show different weather.

It would have been nice to video what was going on...but the FAA would have issue with it.

First 30 degrees left around one cell. There was a good sized hole around the back side...or so it appeared.

On the new heading we were headed toward a thick wall.

As soon as I passed the cell on the right I began I right turn, autopilot on.

On that new heading the RADAR painted an ugly picture. Nothing but red. What was green at FL 280 was nothing but red at FL190.

"Crap, there's no way around it." I said.

"Yeah that stuff came out of no where," replied my Captain.

I had one hand on the yoke and one of the thrust levers.

Heavy rain. Lightening strikes at 11 o'clock and close. Bouncing around a lot.

Working my way around the worst of it.

While in a turn we hit a big bump descending through FL180. Then the sound of the autopilot disconnecting came over the loud speaker.

"You got it?" asked my Captain.

"Yeah I got it." I replied.

My Captain cancelled the master warning flashing on the glare shield. It originated from the autopilot failing. It was all in my hands.

Left, then right while keeping an eye on my speed and rate of descent. Thumb down on the trim to reduce the descent, thumb up on the trim to increase it.

Broke out of the clouds and storm around 13,000 feet. Calm and clear. I looked to my right. Nothing but a wall of ugly, grey clouds. My Captain saw the same on his side.

Airport ahead 21  miles. Cleared for a visual. I was a bit high.

Flaps out, engines idled I was happy to be in smooth air.

Easy approach and landing. Done. Well kinda...there was the whole issue of the autopilot, AKA "George".

Arrived 20 minutes early. Lucky for us there was company maintenance onsite.

The autopilot failed in flight. The mechanic did a full reboot of the avionics and tested the system. All back online within 25 minutes.

While he was fixing the autopilot my Captain and I discussed a way back. We were NOT going back through that wall.

Our dispatcher simply filed us the standard routing....meaning back through the weather. My Captain and the dispatcher discussed the way back. We could go south and go offshore 40 miles and get around MOST of the weather, but would have to pick our way around some. He liked the way the RADAR looked on his phone. Looked good to me as well.

Pushed back 10 minutes early. Had to wait about 5 minutes for the new clearance to get to the tower. Done.

Next two legs were being flown by my Captain.

Departed and headed south. A few bumps, but no where near as bad as the inbound flight.  Long way around. Only flew 35ish miles off shore.

ATC was very busy as just about every aircraft was deviating for weather.

Given a slight reroute. Arrived 2 minutes late and 12 minutes over block time.

Plane swap. The inbound was late. When it arrived there were no ramp personnel to marshal it in. Waited more.

Blocked out 23 minutes late at 8:58PM.

Being late we were cleared direct to the overnight 5 minutes after takeoff.

Hotel leg. Maximum speed. Smooth air.

ETA was 9:45 PM. Scheduled arrival was 9:35PM. The shortcut and higher cruise speed helped. Then it happened.

"Reduce to slowest practical speed, you're number 2 for the airport." ATC commanded.

The issue? Tower was closed, only one IFR arrival at a time.

"Seminole 4AT cleared for a visual approach, cancel IFR on this frequency or on the ground. Frequency change approved." came through my ears.

Seminole 4AT?

"Seminole 4AT can you cancel IFR as soon as practical there is another aircraft inbound for the airport." inquired ATC.

"We can cancel IFR now, 4AT"


We were now able to proceed as normal.

Cleared for a visual.

I used com 2 to make the standard position reports. We were landing on runway 18. The Seminole was landing on runway 3.

I thanked the Seminole for the cancellation.

Dark, clear night.

We saw the Seminole inbound for runway 3. We were still on a 10 mile left base for 18.

The Seminole landed and announced holding short of runway 18. I cancelled IFR on a 8 mile final.

The Seminole was from ATP (my flight school). Not only from ATP but departed from the airport where I did all of my training. I had flown the same flight they flew countless times.

I had a short chat with the Seminole after landing. It brought back memories for me as a student and a CFI.

Blocked in at 9:44PM. Just 9 minutes late.

Today is day 4. Three legs, with the first leg leaving at 2:30PM. I don't finish until 8:55PM.

Tomorrow my daughter turns 2 (2!!!). I'm lucky to be able to be off for her birthday. I haven't missed one yet....of course there's only been one. Ha.

Finally a few photos...and even a video of some of the weather yesterday. They were taken on leg 1 and leg 3.

Photos take a while to load. I'm on my netbook and can't crunch and watermark like I do on my Macbook. I'll fix them this weekend.

[nggallery id=57]


Thursday, August 9, 2012

No...that's a military airport

Morning 3 of a 4 day trip.

Trip had a late sign in and has a late finish.

Day one started with a 5:30PM departure. Nice crew. One of the flight attendants is a "senior mama" who is funny and knows how to do her job...great combo.

I took the first leg of three for the day. Blocked out 12 minutes late due to the inbound plane being late. Tried to make up time in flight. I made up exactly zero minutes.

The out station is very good. They turned us in 17 minutes. That's 17 minutes from the time we set the parking brake to them time we  released the parking brake to head back out. Not too shabby!

My Captain was able to make up more time and we blocked in 5 minutes early.

Leg 3 was just a 78 NM file. Seventy Eight miles....back in the day people would DRIVE to the airport for 78 miles. Bleh.

Off to on was just 18 minutes.

My Captain said they used to climb us to 78 NM! It was a lot of work to get down. This time we went to just 14,000 feet and it was still spoilers/flaps out to get down in time.

Long overnight.

Day 2 started with delays. Weather.

Blocked out 38 minutes late and arrived 35 minutes late. We would have been just 30 minutes late but we waited 5 minutes for rampers.

Comedy of errors. The boarding gate listed the wrong flight. The agent knew the correct flight, but ASSUMED we were not at the airport...much less on the airplane.

While waiting a First Officer who was on an aircraft next door came up and asked if we could help him out.

He had one turn left and was hoping to commute home on our overnight flight. He was supposed to block in at 19:40. We were to leave at 19:50. We were already delayed as was he.

My Captain let him know we would try, but were not going to fly super slow. You can only do so much.

After about 10 minutes of no one  boarding I went up to the gate. Lots of upset passengers. I informed the agent that we were all ready to board. Blocked out 35 minutes late.

Straight in approach to runway 31. There was only a GPS approach so I loaded it up as a backup to make sure I lined up with the correct runway. I always load an approach...even to an airport I've been to 100X times. More on why later.

The runway was 7200 feet long. Floated more than I wanted due to a little wind gust and about 4 knots fast on the approach speed. Had to use a little thrust reverse to slow down.

My Captain is nice, but a little antsy sometimes.

Most Captains let the First Officer decide when to transfer control after landing. This normally happens around 80 knots. Sometimes I can taxi off the runway via a high speed without transferring controls using the rudder pedals.

This Captain is quick to take over...around 110 knots he announces "My aircraft". Bleh.

Twenty four minute turn and we were out...27 minutes late.

Quick flight. blocked in just 19 minutes late.

Thirty minute turn. Hungry. Grabbed dinner for myself and my Captain while he set up the plane. My cabin crew had their own food.

Blocked out 14 minutes late. The commuting First Officer made it on board.

At cruise we broke out our dinners. Simple BBQ sandwhiches. Still kinda warm. I got used to eating warm/cold food years ago. Just part of the job.

A little weather to work around.

Small outstation, but its close to three other smaller airports.

The Approach controllers here can't seem to handle more than two airline flights at a time.

Another RJ was closer in from the opposite direction.

"Flight 939 turn left heading 080, slow to 250 knots for spacing."

"Heading 080? Confirm for 939?" I asked.

"Affirmative heading 080" he replied.

"Unable that will put us right into the weather." I replied. There was a pretty good build up with lots of lightening that direction.

"Ok, turn left heading 010."

"010?" I asked again.

"Well sir if you can't head 080 I need you to fly 010."

"Ok, heading 010."

Tight turn. Once on the heading we were cleared back RIGHT to a VOR.

"Unable, we will take a LEFT turn back around and make a 360 to head to the VOR." I replied.

"Approved as requested."


The issue was another RJ landing at our destination. The separation looked good to us before the vectors.

We were then given a heading toward the airport.

My Captain called it in sight.

I looked and saw a beacon...two white flashes and one green flash.

"That's a military airport." I replied.

"Yep that's the overnight." He replied.

I have been here 10+ times in the last three months....but only in the daytime. I forgot it's a shared military airport.

In and done. The previous RJ was so far ahead they were parked, deplaned and the crew was walking through the airport while we parked.

Today is 4 legs. Should be easy.

Now back to finding the right airport.

A Silver Airways Saab landed at the wrong airport recently. Way wrong. The runway they landed on was round 3200 feet long. The correct airport has a 7000 foot runway.

The runway they landed on can only support 12,500 pounds...a Saab 340 weight considerably more.

The plan is to unload seats to lighten up the plane to get it out of there.

Hope they have a good's a link.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Pilot Porn

Back home. Spent a weekend with my in laws.

My daughter has 12,600 airline miles....really. I signed her up for an account when she was born. There is no minimum age! Of course she only gets miles for trips with "real" tickets.

Her "logbook" isn't updated but I'm fairly certain she's flown on more than 54 flights. Only a handful have been on "real" tickets.

Getting back home for me was interesting. Flights on my mainline partner were all full. I pondered another two leg.

I listed myself as early as possible and was the top person on the standby list. Below me was a friend of mine and her family of 4 (including another pilot at my airline). I felt kinda bad for them being below me as the flight only had a handful of seats.

This morning I went to the airport by myself for the 6:05AM flight. I travel in uniform to make everything easy (and so I don't have to wait in line with the regular folks :-) ). I got a seat....a real First Class. Very nice flight.

My friend and her family all flew offline. Her and her husband jump seated while her kids were on ZED passes.

My wife and daughter were on the next flight. I had time to get the car from the employee lot, drop my bags off at home and then meet them at their baggage claim.

I start a 4 day tomorrow. Time to dump out my suitcase, wash the clothes, update my Jepps and repack.

Back to work.

But before I go....I stopped by Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum and spent a lot of time admiring airplanes and space craft. My family was all next door at a water park. Now I present you with a few photos...I call pilot porn.

The photos are big and high quality....they will take a while to load.

[nggallery id=56]

Friday, August 3, 2012

Jump seating...a great privilege

Spending the weekend with family. Long day getting here.

My wife and daughter had "real" tickets that were purchased a while ago. Flights on my mainline partner are notoriously full so non-reving is not a good idea. I couldn't buy a real ticket as my schedule varies so much month to month.

Direct flights were out of the question. Flights were predictably full and I had ZERO desire to sit on a jump seat for 4+ hours. Instead I used to find a way to make a one stop trip.

It took a little work but I found a way. Both offline flights.  One of the legs was on Virgin America, an airline I've never flown on.

Aviation is a close knit community. I know a guy via an online forum that works for Virgin America. He let me know the loads were heavily in my favor for getting a real seat.

My first flight left at 7AM. I woke up early at 4 AM...couldn't sleep. I left the house at 5AM. I filled out the jump seat form and was able to get a seat in the back.

Same for the connecting flight on Virgin America. While waiting for the flight I saw a Flight Attendant I know from twitter. I didn't have time to say hi in person though.

While on board the Virgin America flight I spotted another Flight Attendant I knew. She used to work at my airline. Small world.

I arrived on time at noon. My wife and daughter were supposed to arrive at 7PM. Supposed to arrive.....yeah.

My family lives 2 hours south of the airport. Rather than drive up and back for 4 hours I just hung out in town. That would end up being a mistake.

Delayed. Big time.

They didn't end up arriving until 12:15 AM. So much for same day service.

By the time we got to the house I'd been up for 24 hours straight. I was so tired I had to pull over and let my wife drive the last 15 miles.

The benefit of unlimited travel is truly priceless. Being able to go to any airport...and board any flight....for free. Crazy eh?

Time to do a whole lot of nothing. Back to work on Tuesday.