When we arrived the check in area was vacant. The door behind the counter was locked. By chance I tried one of the keys I was issued when I was hired. It worked. Of course the next door was protected by a triple layer security system. Stuck. Thankfully I remembered the number to the operations area by the gate (I used to it to call the Captain earlier in the day). I called. They came. Out we went.
While walking across the ramp I saw the flight attendants who were deadheaded walking down the jet bridge stairs. They were confused about their assignment as far as they could tell the flight back was empty. I explained to them why they were needed even though there were no passengers.
Here's a great explanation about how regional airlines are paid taken from Wikipedia:
The notion that regional jet aircraft are less expensive (per seat mile) than traditional jets is a common misconception. On a seat-mile basis the RJ's cost is in fact higher. Regional jets are operated in the USA under a fee-per-departure payment structure. In this payment structure, a traditional airline contracts with a regional airline company on a per departure or per flight basis regardless of the number of passengers or the length of the flight. The traditional airline gets to keep all the revenue from the ticket sale and only pays the regional partner the agreed to amount. These contracts tend to be long term agreements, typically 10 year terms. The regional airline partner can then be relatively sure of the revenue side and only has to control cost in order to earn a modest return. However, these "regional airlines," now really "small jet providers" of contracted aircraft, have been squeezed by U.S. airline bankruptcies, fleet reductions and increasing operating costs. U.S. Legacy carriers have no longer been willing to shoulder burdensome losses from guaranteed-profit contracts with their small jet providers, and accordingly have played carrier against carrier in a low-bid game that has left hundreds of RJs idle and others potentially on their way to being laid up.
The idea that regional jets would provide point-to-point service and bypass the hub-and-spoke system may not be materializing as it was expected. As of January 2003, 90% of all regional jet flights in the United States had a hub or major airport at one end of that flight, and this number has been gradually increasing since 1995.
The APU had been running for hours....but the packs weren't on...just the recirculation fan. The cabin was very warm.
I entered the cockpit, did my safety scan and turn on the packs. After a preflight, flows, and checklist, we blocked out at 9:45PM. Captain flew us back. Takeoff weight was a feather light 50,200 pounds. We did have to look up the minimum takeoff weight....42,000 pounds...as we were concerned about being too light.
He flew fast, but a stiff headwind negated all the extra speed.
Landing weight was 48,000 pounds. Very light. He did his best but we still bounced a bit on landing at 10:41PM. By 10:46PM we were shutting down the plane. The mechanics offered everyone a ride to the employee lot. I however princess parked. Boo for me.
I stashed my bags in the crew room and headed up stairs to a totally vacant terminal. Many of the gates were closed off. I had to walk down 15 gates to find the only open exit...then back down 12 gates to my car. I walked in the door at 11:20PM. My wife woke up for a moment then went back to bed. I haven't really seen much of her since Monday night. If I don't get sent out tonight then I should see her for more than a few minutes tonight. Tomorrow is my day 6. Off Saturday.
While sitting airport standby today I was able to meet my mother in law at the gate when she arrived. My sister in law and niece fly in two hours from now. One perk of airport standby....I can meet relatives when they arrive!