Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Unplanned four hour airport appreciation on day 2 of a 4 day trip.

This morning started with a 5:20 AM van ride. I say was a taxi for a reason I didn't question. It was snowing pretty good on the way to the airport.

My overnight was at a maintenance base. My aircraft just came out of a hangar and wasn't covered with too much snow. The winds were howling at 35 knots. The wind with a 11 degree Fahrenheit outside air temp made for a chilly pre-flight.

Back in the warm flight deck I began my morning routine. My flight was the second to leave. I had the ground frequency playing on the overhead speaker while I went through my morning flow.

A UPS flight landed on runway 32 and reported poor braking. Runway 2 was the preferred runway but was 1000 feet shorter and had a 20 knot crosswind component. Thus we needed 32.

The poor braking report combined with 3 inch snow drifts meant we couldn't use 32 either.

While the snow built up on the aircraft and the ground we heard the flight before ours report they were going to wait at the gate for the runway to be plowed.

Our boarding was already underway.

The Captain and I got busy looking at performance, weather and fuel. We had 7000 pounds on board, but only needed 5800 to takeoff. Good spread.

The aircraft now had snow accumulating on the wipers. So much for a clean plane.

Departure was set for 6:30AM. At 6:25AM the gate agent poked her head into the flight deck and asked if we were ready to go. She was oblivious to the weather and the previous flight still at a gate. We let her know it would be a while.

A while turned into almost 2 hours. Originally I had just 35 minute turn to head to the overnight. That was gone.

The first flight was fueled for an alternate and more taxi fuel than ours. The extra fuel turned into a burden due to the runway conditions. Lucky for us we didn't need an alternate.

We pushed back at 8:30AM. The snow had stopped so we planned on just Type I fluid to deice, we didn't think we needed Type IV for Anti-ice.

Part of the way through Type 1...light snow started. Type I does give limited anti-icing.....but not enough. I radioed that we needed Type IV as well.

Something happened during the Type IV application that required everything to be done again. Ugh.

Finally clean. Up and away we went.

Halfway through the flight the Flight Attendant called asking our ETA and that 18 passengers were connecting to Cabo San Lucas....and if we think the flight would be held as it was leaving 10 minutes after our arrival.

Here's the skinny on holding flights. Flight crews have zero power to call ahead and hold a flight. Gate agents have zero power to hold a flight. Someone in an office, likely far from the airport, has that power.

We did have a little luck as we landed on the runway closest to the terminal. That alone saved 10 minutes of taxi time. After we parked at the gate an airline branded bus stopped in front of us. The bus was for the Cabo passengers . The flight was indeed held for them.

I was reassigned a 4 hour sit to a new overnight.

Not wanting to sit at the airport for 4 hours I left.

I had time to go home and fix my wifes computer, let the dogs out, pick up lunch, drive to meet my wife at her office and eat lunch with her and go back to the airport in just 3 hours. With just an hour to kill I wrote this post in 25 minutes.

Up and away I go.

Oh yeah....I hate snow.

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