Wednesday, July 31, 2013

To the guy in 9A...thanks

Last two day trip for a while.

Day one is a 3 leg day worth just 2.5 hours. I debated dropping it as it's not much flying, but I think about the $100 I would be I kept the flying.

Same cabin crew as the last two times, different Captain.

Right away this guy struck me as odd.

The first flight was a quick  50 minutes and is way over blocked.

"Hey let's make an extra 20 minutes on this first turn." My captain said to me while finishing up preflight duties.

"It's over blocked, not really possible." I replied.

"Ah I flew around yesterday at Mach .62 and no one said anything to me." he said.

Most of my flights are planned by the dispatcher at Mach.72-Mach .76. I fly planned or better depending on fuel load, weather, schedule integrity and if it's the go home/hotel leg. Flying slower to make a few bucks is of no interest to me.

His leg. Sure enough he climbed at a slower than normal 200 knots to 10,000 feet then 250 knots to 17,000 feet which was our final. Normal is to climb at 250 knots to 10,000 feet and a planned 300 knots at 17,000 feet.

The slow flying added a whole 8 minutes block to block. Eight minutes at my pay rate is about $5.60. For my Captain it was about $14. I planned on flying planned speed back and if he chose to fly slower on the longer legs I would ask him to fly planned and, if he refused for any reason other than his pocket book, request to meet with myself and the Chief Pilot.

While loading up with passengers for the return flight I heard my Flight Attendant yell, "Please stop! Stop! Stop! Stop or you're going to break it!"

I turned around and saw the overhead bin and passenger ceiling hanging down at row 9, the passenger in 9A broke it while trying to stuff his bag into the bin and close it.

A broken overhead bin is a big deal, but if the bin is empty we can quickly secure it,  write it up, depart and have it repaired later. The problem was his bag was wedged inside with the door halfway closed.

My Captain and I tried to gently...but with the door. Nothing.

My Flight Attendant made the announcement no one wanted to hear, "Ladies and Gentlemen please gather your things and exit the aircraft, we will now need a mechanic to fix the overhead bin."

The bad news was the airport mechanic had gone home. The closest company mechanic was over an hour away.

With the passengers off,  my Captain and I tried again to get the bag out. We finally got the bag out, but the damage was done. The door was off track and pieces had fallen off with the initial force from the passenger.

Two and a half hours later the mechanic arrived. He spent over an hour trying to fix the door in a way that it would be secured. Done.

Four hours after arriving, we left the gate. Of the original 43 passengers, just 13 were left. The rest were all connecting at the hub and had missed all possible flights for the night. My airline paid for hotels for them locally and booked them on the morning flights.

Being so late we missed our overnight flight and thus would all be going home for the night.

I know I'm late when I hear UPS and FEDEX flights on frequency as it seems they mostly fly at night.

Even at 10:30 PM there was a lot of traffic that caused me to be assigned a speed of 280 knots.

Landed at 11PM and blocked in at 11:08PM.

Scheduling WANTED to have me back at the airport at 8:05AM to catch up with my 8:50AM departure. That wasn't good enough for me.

My hub is big....huge. Even if I rushed I wouldn't reach my car until 11:35 PM and would be home at maybe midnight. If I magically fell asleep right away I would still have to get up at 6:30AM to leave at 7AM to drive back to the airport, park, ride the airport train, clear security and be at the gate by 8:05AM. That's maybe  6 hours sleep, more likely 5 hours sleep.

"I need 8 hours of real rest to safely fly tomorrow. Do what you need to do but I can not fly safely without 8 hours of actual rest." I stated to the scheduling rep.

A scheduling supervisor came on the line and said there was nothing in my contract stating more than 8 hours rest in base and that the 8:05AM show time was legal. I stated while it's legal, I don't deem it safe and restated my need for 8 hours of real rest. We went back and forth and finally he took me off the first turn. My new showtime was 11:45AM.

I hate having to fight for rest. After I hung up I searched the contract as I thought I could get 10 hours. Finally I found it and called back but the supervisor was "busy".

I am pay protected for the flying I was removed from.

Today I just have one long turn left. I'm then off till Monday for my last trip before my vacation...headed to Bermuda for a week.

The broken bin is going to cost my airline several thousand dollars as they had to pay for the mechanic to drive 90 miles (his time + mileage), a hotel for him after he was done, hotels for all the passengers, rebooking for all the passengers, a reserve crew to fly my overnight flight, the use of a spare airplane for the overnight flight, and still paying my crew for the overnight flight as it's in the contract.

There is also the toll on all the other passengers as they had vacations booked, hotels arranged, rental car arranged and of course the emotional toll.

It was an accident, but common sense should have taken over when the door wouldn't close with normal pressure.


  1. '“Hey let’s make an extra 20 minutes on this first turn.” My captain said to me while finishing up preflight duties.

    “It’s over blocked, not really possible.” I replied.

    “Ah I flew around yesterday at Mach .62 and no one said anything to me.” he said.'

    That is HILARIOUS! I'm not the type to rat anyone out, but c mon, this is pretty funny stuff. I can understand you getting upset if you were on your way home, and wanted to get there in a hurry, but if you got all day to kill, that 5 to 14 bux is a half decent lunch. Not to mention doesn't it save the airline a bit of money on fuel? I wouldn't tell someone's boss for something like that.. we are on the same team!

    About the rest thing.. Does it say 10 hours on your contract? If so, and that manager TRIED to get you to come in after only 8, that IS something I would bring up to someones boss. That is simple BS. No one should be expected to go to work the morning after a late work night unless they can reasonably expect 8 hours of sleep. Hopefully these new rest requirements are common sensical, and not something that only works in a perfect vacuum (so the airlines can push it to the dead limit). If anything, they should give you a 12 hour minimum (After arriving to your place of rest!), whether it's at a hotel, or at home. Any hard working person deserves a beer and a nice meal after work.

  2. Another consequence of flying slow is it messes with passenger connection times and makes everyone else work faster as we typically have 30 minutes to turn the plane. If we arrive 10 minutes late that gives just 20 minutes. Planes are scheduled all day long so us running intentionally late affects other flights and their crews and passengers.

    The 10 hours is in the contact but I must request it. The manager was playing semantics as he said I wasn't guaranteed it. They play on wording hoping naive pilots will cave and get the flight out thus scheduling can have spare reserves.

  3. Ahhh both points make more sense now... This whole pressure to force people to work tired is just unsafe.. The culture needs to change. The company should have quarterly events or meet and greets or something fun so people can put a face on the voice from the other side.. Perhaps they'd take it more personally and be less prone to trying to take advantage of people and put them in unsafe situations.

    Speaking of pressure, on the other topic of flying slow on purpose, maybe if they actually paid you guys for ALL of the time you are "working", and not just flying, then that would eliminate the incentive to doing passive-aggressive things like flying slow. They are their own worst enemy, and as always the labor gets the crap end of the shaft.

    Either way, company policies should be built around never having to screw ANYONE. A happy workforce is a way more efficient one.. and a safer one. Everybody wins when the employees are happy.. The customer, the employees, even the CEO. They just don't get it.


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