Monday, August 26, 2013

Back in the Saddle

Today was my first day back at work in almost 3 weeks.

One perk of this profession is setting your own schedule and getting extra days off by bidding creatively. For example I used two weeks of vacation but I was able to get 18 days off in a row.  I could have had 19 off in a row, but I was ready to head back.

Today I had a simple day trip. Just a trip down to Cedar Rapid, Iowa and back.

I really didn't want to bring my suitcase as it's somewhat of a hassle. Of course I would risk getting stuck in Cedar Rapids if the plane broke. I risked it. I just brought my headset and required manuals.

Thankfully it was an easy trip. My Captain took the first leg. I wanted a chance to refresh myself on how things operated. I did make a joke that if he could just remind me where I put the keys in to start the engines, I could likely figure out the rest.

Nice trip. As expected my first landing after being gone for almost 2 weeks was a thumper.

Off tomorrow and back for a 4 day trip on Wednesday afternoon.

For September I decided to bid an international schedule meaning every overnight would be out of the country. I wanted something different.

Well I got what I wanted, 3 day trips all international with weekends off. Great.....until I saw my Captain. He's one of two men who I just don't get along with. Thus I traded all of the trips for different trips. Same working days. Due to training conflicting with my schedule I "work" just 8 days next month. I have another 5 days of training. Overall fairly easy.

Glad to be back. More later.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Still on Vacation

Had a great 7 day cruise to Bermuda. Now spending the next week doing as little as possible. Just stopped by to keep the site fresh and drop of a few photos from my trip.

AUG20130000 AUG20130001 AUG20130002Bermuda was nice, but I don't think I will go back. Too expensive. The cruise was nice, but 7 days is my limit for a cruise. I was ready to get off on day 7!

Interesting end to the trip. My wife and daughter used airline miles (yep my daughter has had enough real tickets to earn a free trip!) to get 1st class seats home. I was going to non-rev home.

We walked off the ship at 7:55AM. We arrived at Newark in time to check in our luggage and all go standby (they were much higher as they were paying customers) on the 9:15AM flight home. We all got first class seats! It was my daughters' (can you believe she's 3!) first time in 1st class. She knew no different other than getting food.

Time to relax for a few more days.


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Remember those plastic wings?

Three day trip, last before vacation.

Early 6:20AM report time on Monday. I haven't had an early show time in a long time.

Left home at 5:20AM. Even though I live just 10 miles from the airport it takes time to park in the employee lot, wait for the bus, ride the bus and clear the security portal. I have a 15 minute buffer as I am paranoid of being late.

Day one was just 3 legs. Arrived early on the first flight. Dodged a little weather. For the flight back we were given a route around the weather that would put us in 15 minutes late.

The weather wasn't as bad and the FMS estimated an early arrival. About 40 minutes out the ACARS spit out the connecting gates for passengers and the crew.

Scheduling saw we were estimated to be late and pulled us from our flight to the overnight. Instead of a 35 minute turn we had a 5 hour sit and were dead heading to the overnight.

The early wake up and the thought of a 5 hour sit at the airport made me tired...and annoyed.

While taxiing to our gate we saw the electronic sign above the gate showing the flight we were supposed to take. The gate was empty meaning the plane had not yet arrived.

After blocking in I called scheduling and asked to either be put on our original flight as a dead head or fly it as the plane had not made it in...and we were on time!

The scheduler was new, which is typical as it's high turnover, and was confused.

He eventually agreed to put my whole crew as WORKING the flight.

I made a quick dash to the crew room to pick up an update pack for my manuals and headed to the gate. My Captain was there and shaking his head. He said I was on the flight but the rest of the crew as not.

Just then a First Officer came up from the gate stating she had been pulled from the flight (she was on reserve). I made my way to the flight deck and put my stuff away. I sat next to the Captain (who was on reserve) and let him know what was going on.

He had his stuff set up and signed the flight release preparing to leave.

My Captain came down and the reserve Captain left. My Captain was going to use the original flight release and make a "pen and ink" change to the flight crew. A "pen and ink" change is legal and allowed within certain parameters.

We can "pen and ink" a flight crew change and a MEL change...but not an aircraft change.

While reviewing the paperwork we noticed the MELs on the plane didn't match the flight release. Further investigation showed the aircraft number was wrong....the reserve Captain failed to notice it.

My Captain headed back up to the gate.

Departure time came and went. I made a PA stating we were waiting on a paperwork issue and it would be 10 minutes. Printing a new release normally takes 3-4 minutes.

Ten minutes later the Flight Attendant came up and asked for another PA as the passengers were all giving her the "What the heck" look.

"Ladies and gentlemen my 10 minute estimation has come and gone. Hopefully it won't be much longer, thank you for your patience." I said hoping it would be the last one.

My Captain arrived as I put up the hand mike. The long delay was due to the printer running out of paper AND a new MEL which had to be added.

Left late and arrived late.

I am very habitual. I eat at the same places at each overnight....and eat the same thing.

Long overnight.

Day 2 was long at 7.5 hours of flying starting with a 5:15AM van ride.

The plane, which we had all day, had no APU. This meant having to use an external air start each time. Not hard, but tedious.

Tomorrow is just 3 legs. Should be done at 1:10PM.

Every now and then kids come up to the flight deck. I enjoy it and wish I had something to give them.

When I was a kid I strongly recall getting plastic wings when I flew. With the cost cutting we don't have wings to give out to kids.

I have looked on line for generic plastic wings and have come up empty unless I want to order 1000 units. I might see if I can buy a roll of sticker wings that I can write the flight number and such on. The looks of the kids eyes as they scan the cockpit remind me of how I felt when I would walk buy and gaze at the switches, buttons and lights.

Anyone have a tip on plastic wings?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Everybody likes a little time and half

Normally I don't pick up overtime on off days. Every now and then a trip opens up that says "fly me".

I picked up a 5 hour turn this morning. It left at 8AM and was done at 1:30PM.  My family had no plans this morning so I figured "why not"?

My airline is short on First Officers this weekend and offered up 150% pay for any time flown. That was the icing on the cake.

So my pay rate jumped from $42 an hour to $63 an hour. Easy turn. No surprises. Three hundred and Fifteen dollars (before taxes and union dues!) in the bank.

I have a 3 day 18 hour trip on Monday and then I'm off till the 25th.

In the works is a blog about everything an airline ticket covers. Items such as repairs, training, alternate fuel, ticket agents, dispatchers, baggage loaders and more. Most passengers talk about paying to go from point A to point B and that's it. In reality there are at least 100 people from just the airline involved in getting them from point A to point B....and they all deserve to be paid.