Saturday, September 4, 2010

For Those About To Commute, I Salute You!

My first three days on TDY in the north flying.

On Thursday I was on a call out till 7PM. With a 2 hour call out my "back of the napkin" math showed me being useless after 2PM. I played it safe and listed on a 5PM flight home. I was off Friday and Saturday.

The first flight was weight restricted by 10 seats. Sure enough I didn't get on.

The next flight was also weight restricted. Initially they pulled 18 seats! Ugh. Not good. Already a fairly full flight. I saw an offline flight attendant also trying to get on. I told her about the weight restrictions. She was over course not happy. Thankfully as departure time approached they lifted some of the weight restriction and I got a seat. The Captain came up and told the gate agent that every standby is getting on and that the fuel on board was less than planned, but fine for the trip. Glad he did that as the flight attendant got on as well.

My wife picked me up at 9PM. Home by 10PM.

I spent Friday with my wife and newborn daughter. We ran errands and ate dinner with friends. When I got home I began planning my commute back.

I figured no one would be going to the New York area on Saturday morning. I was wrong. All flights full. Not good. I began looking at connecting in small cities. Most routings were full, but I could connect to a regional flight flown by my airline and get a jump seat. Sunday is a reserve day. No idea what time I would be needed.

Around 10 PM Friday night I gave up. I would just head to the airport and try to catch the 7AM direct flight hoping to get the jump seat. There are three airports I can fly into, EWR, JFK or LGA. All were full!

Since my wife picked me up on Thursday night, she would have to drop me off Saturday morning (my car was still in the employee lot). She wasn't really happy having to get up so early especially with my daughter waking up every 2-3 hours anyway.

She dropped me off and I headed to the gate. I was number 40 on the standby list. Another mainline pilot was already listed. Being a mainline flight he has priority over the jump seat.

At 6:55AM all seats assigned. A few standbys got on. Not me. The mainline pilot was assigned the jump seat. The agent closed the boarding door and headed to the plane. I headed to the next gate. Once I got there I looked back at the list for the 7AM flight.

Apparently there was an unassigned seat in the cabin as the mainline pilot was assigned a real seat. Ugh. I could have had the jump! Too late.

I am not a commuter. I'm not used to the stress.

My next plan was to connect in a smaller city. I listed and was number 11. Ten seats open. I then looked at the next direct to flight to the New York area. No pilots listed. Still oversold. I flipped a coin....ready to try another direct.

Five minutes prior to push I was given the cockpit jump seat. Worst seat in the house, but I was going.

Being full I had to check my carry on. No big deal as it's easier than hunting for overhead bin space.

The mainline crew was nice. I took my seat...took me a second to remember how the jump seat worked.

Once in base I headed back to the hotel. It was only noon. Waste of a day. I was happy to be home with my wife and kid. Commuting sucks. Especially on reserve. I have 11 days off a month. If I were based here I could easily see having to commute on at least 3 days off a month, likely 4 bringing my true days "off" down to 7. Ouch.

Commuters....once again you have my respect.

Tomorrow morning I have airport reserve starting at 5:30AM. First departure isn't until 8AM. Nice!

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