Friday, July 29, 2011

Nick of Time

I've said it before, I'm a bad commuter. I don't take chances by taking the last flight that will get me too work. I go early.

There are 14 flights a day on my mainline partner between where I live and where I'm based. Add in flights from other carriers and I have at least 20 options a day.

I had a report time of 4:05PM Thursday for my 4 day trip. I decided to take the 10AM flight that would get me in at 1PM leaving 3 hours and 5 minutes of cushion. I've taken this same flight the last few weeks.

Before I left home I noticed my flight was delayed till 11AM. There was a 10:50AM flight that was still on time. Hmmm.

I didn't think much of it. Instead I spent a few more minutes with my daughter before dropping her off at day care.

Arrived at the gate and was happy to get a real seat at 10:45AM. The 10:50AM flight went out full with a jump seater. At 11AM the flight was delayed further until 11:45AM. A Captain I know from my airline arrived and was hoping for the jump seat. He wasn't happy to see the delay as he had to be in base by 1:40PM.

At 11:45AM the flight was delayed until 12:30PM. The Captain split to find another way. I called Crew Scheduling to let them know I might not make it by show time. The scheduler took a look and said to keep her advised.

The 12:05PM flight was full with a jump seater. Ugh.

At 12:30PM the flight was delayed again until 1:15PM. All the delays were for a mechanical issue.

Finally boarded at 1:20PM. Estimated arrival 4:05PM. Right at report time.

I took my seat and closed my eyes, everything was out of my hands.

The mains touched the runway at 3:53PM. Gate at 3:57PM. I was in row 11. I patiently waited as the passengers got off the plane. I grabbed my suitcase and quickly walked up the jet bridge in search of an open computer.

At 4:03PM I signed in...2 minutes to spare. I'm sure there is some leeway of a few minutes, but I haven't been that close in a long time.

I've heard of pilots giving scheduling the heads up that they will miss sign in time, but will get the flight out on time. The pilot signed in late, flights goes out on time and the pilot STILL gets a "late sign in" mark on his permanent record. Crap.

After I signed in I quickly walked through the terminal to the crew room to find my kit bag. My previous Captain did me a HUGE favor by bringing my bag to the crew storage room so I could make my flight. The bag was right where he said it would be.

I grabbed my bag and walked onto the plane at 4:19PM to see a Captain I have a good time flying with.

He has a really good sense of humor.

Preflight done.

I took my seat and began setting up the plane. The Captain stated he only landed once in the last three weeks.

His regular FO is a new hire on probation and was happy to fly every leg but one for the experience. I told my Captain no thanks, we can switch off. Ha!

First leg was mine. Assigned runway 27R. Landing to the west into the sun. Assigned a visual.

On downwind I had the airport in sight. Turning

The sun was in my eyes. The approach was loaded in the FMS and I had the ILS tuned in as a back up. Glad I did.

Initially I rolled out visually and was lined up with a highway that paralleled the runway. I was still 7 miles out. I cross checked and turned left a smidge...done. I simply flew the localizer and glide slope to the runway, flight director turned off.

Captain flew back to base and the leg to the overnight. Climbing through FL240 we got a Master Caution, "PAX OUTER DOOR HNDL". Hmmm.

I checked the appropriate checklist. Stated if pressurization is fine and the door shows closed, no action required. I called my flight attendant and had him verify that his handle and indicators were showing closed. They were.

The light went out. I advised my FA. The Master Caution came on two more times. For the last hour of the flight it was out. Good.

Pulled into the gate one minute early. My FA called the hotel to make sure the van was coming. We aren't required to do this. In theory if we are on time the hotel van is supposed to be waiting. They rarely are.

The hotel said the van driver was still at the hotel and to take a cab. Fine with us as the hotel pays for it.

We found a taxi. The cab driver was the normal scary driver who had no idea where he was going even though there was a GPS on the dash. I used my phone (I love Android) to give him directions.

I've said it a hundred times....ok maybe 15 times. Commuting sucks.

Out and back today to the same hotel I'm at now. I fly both legs, Captain flies both legs tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I'd do it for free

I had a great two days teaching the ATP RJ Course. I forgot how much I truly love teaching. My college plans were to originally become a High School teacher. My last semester I was student teaching and realized I never wanted to teach High School.

When I was a CFI I loved teaching. Seeing that spark light off in a student when concepts become clear excites me.

My students were very different.

One pilot had 4000+ hours and used to fly charter. He hasn't flown a jet in over 2 years and had never flown glass. He did the short course, he starts at Pinnacle Monday morning.

The next pilot had 400ish hours. Never flown glass. He is young but I could tell he really studied as he was right up on everything but made the normal mistakes a pilot new to glass/jets does.

The last pilot had 700ish hours including Beech 1900 time. He knew everything but had problems putting it all together in the FTD (like a Simulator but an FTD has no motion). He did very well after I gave him a few pointers. I have no doubt he will do well.

I would honestly teach the course for free as I love teaching. The pay is great though...icing on the cake. I did forget how much talking is involved. I talked my throat dry!

Busy couple of days coming up. I commute down tomorrow. Start my 4 day. Very easy.

Day one 4PM start , 3 legs (6 hours flying) and done by 11PM (same time zone).

Day 2 starts at 1PM, 2 long legs (6 hours flying) and back at the same hotel by 9PM.

Day 3 starts at 8AM two legs (total 5 hours flying) and in the hotel by 1PM (different time zone).

Day 4 one leg in and I deadhead home for vacation.

I arrive at my home airport at 2:30PM. I am going to rush home, grab my wife, daughter and vacation suitcase and head back to the airport for a 4:30PM flight.

Tonight I am packing my work suitcase AND a separate vacation suitcase.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Need an APU and a little luck

My last trip went from hard to easy.

Getting to the overnight on day 3 took was 5 1/2 hours of flying over 2 legs. Felt like more.

On the way to the overnight I heard about Amy Winehouse being found dead while listening to an ADF channel.

Got to the hotel at 2:45PM. Napped till 5PM then hit Hooters for dinner.

I truly love Hooters 3 Mile Island (hottest in most locations) sauce. I've rarely met a meal that was too hot.

Wings and beer in my stomach I made my way back to the hotel for a great nights rest. This being the longest overnight (18 hours with a 8:30am van!) was great.

Up around 7:30AM I started my day. Before leaving the hotel I checked the MELs on the outbound APU LCV. This meant the APU worked for electricity, but could not supply bleed air.

I then checked on my commute flights home. All overbooked. The two leg commute that I took two weeks ago was the best option.

We got to the airport 40 minutes early. To my surprise and delight the ground crew (all contract workers as opposed to my airline employees) had connected preconditioned air (cool air!) and had the air cart ready to start the engines. I was truly impressed as most of my airline ramp personnel would have done neither.

The preconditioned air made the cabin just tolerable as the outside temperature was already 91 degrees.

Boarded up and then it happened. We had a 9:30AM departure but ATC imposed a 10:20AM wheels up time.

The Captain and I discussed it.

Dispatch gave us 1100 pounds of taxi fuel as opposed to a more normal 200-300 pounds. Reason being we had no APU and thus any ground delay would require running the engine which consumes around 500 pounds per hour versus the APU that consumes just 135 pounds per hour.

With the extra fuel we were willing to risk leaving the gate on time and waiting it out. I call it the "go sit next to the runway and put on your best sad puppy face" tactic.

The airport wasn't very busy. We taxied out and then got the good news, our new wheels up time was 9:45AM. It was working!

When we got to the runway it was pushed back to 9:50AM. If we had waited at the gate until 10:00AM we would have missed the earlier time.

Right at 9:50AM we were cleared for takeoff. My leg

Due to weather near the hub we had to take a scenic route. We got a short cut, but we were still estimated to land 10 minutes later than scheduled.

An hour into the flight the ATC center controller offered us a new course that would bring us in through another gate and we would be number 1. We advised we would look at it. Before we could answer she came back that it was no longer an option. To make it worse all arrivals were shut off. Prepare to hold.

We were cruising at FL370. We have no hold charts for that altitude. Additionally the plane is programmed to make 1/2 banked turns above 31,600.

The Captain advised we would need 20 mile legs and would take up a larger than standard holding pattern. ATC understood. This is what it looked like.

After one REALLY long pattern we were cleared to the previous gate. ATC requested "max forward speed you're leading the pack." followed by, "and what would max forward speed be?" I told the Captain, "Mach .83." When ATC heard that she replied, "oh I thought you were one of the slower RJs....okay that will work."

We indeed were leading the pack. Except during turbulence I flew right under red line.

Brought in at 11,000 and assigned a 7000 foot downwind. Once we were assigned a speed of 170 I began to plan for a short approach.

Sure enough assigned a base turn for a 6 mile final, but I was still 6000 feet AGL.

I'd been here before.

I idled the engines and leveled off. I made a shallow descent and called for the gear down and remaining flaps. Once done I nosed it over and extended the flight spoilers.

The VASI was showing all white lights....the glide slope was hiding somewhere down on the PFD. Steep approach.

Descending through 1400 feet AGL I stowed the flight spoilers but the engines were still idled. Passing 1000 feet AGL I was on speed and stabilized. Power was then added. I was a little taken back by the really long lines for takeoff...over 20 planes deep!

Nice landing and the Captain took over. Then it gate. While on the way to a holding pad operations called back, our gate was pushing back!

We pulled into the gate at 11:50AM...30 minutes late. My original direct flight was at 11:55 AM and the two legger at 11:50AM. My wife AKA travel agent sent me a text that the direct flight was delayed till 12:15PM.

My Captain commuted, but his flight wasn't till 12:30PM. He then offered to do my post flight AND take my kit bag 1/2 way through the airport down two flights of stairs to the crew room. Wow! I thanked him for a great trip and the offer and headed to my gate.

There were several pilots waiting around...mostly mainline. Not good.

I checked the flight listings and saw I was the only pilot non-reving. The rest were dead heading!

Sure enough I was given the flight deck jump seat. All direct flights were overbooked.

After requesting a ride I stashed my suitcase and swam upstream against the boarding passengers.

Nice crew, I'd ridden the jump seat with both pilots in the past. The First Officer made a memorable impression on me as he thinks regional pilots are all living on food stamps and are unskilled. Eh.

During push back the Captain started both engines. This worried me. I had seen the 20 plus line of planes for takeoff.

Their release was sitting right on the pedestal. I found the minimum fuel for takeoff number, 28,100 pounds. As we sat waiting for taxi the total fuel showed 30,400 pounds. A 2300 pound buffer.

We inched up the line. They chatted while I watched the fuel number. Around 28,600 pounds the Captain began to get concerned.

It was close....really close but as he turned the plane onto the runway the total read 28,200

Long flight. They got their crew meals. Nothing for me. I always carry snack bars and had two en route.

I was happy to see the airport as he turned final.

I walked into my door at 4:45PM....still daylight out.

My next trip starts on Thursday at 4PM. Super easy to commute too....I hope. Today was truly a day of with my daughter.

Tomorrow and Wednesday I'm going back to teach the RJ Course at ATP. Back home Wednesday night.

My trip ends Sunday with a dead head back home as I start vacation for REAL on Monday.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Not so bad after all

My actual line for the month was the same 4 day 19 hour trip.

I am only flying this sequence once....and I'm happy about it.

The trip looks good on paper...late start (2PM) and an early finish (noon). Super commutable.

Delving into the details shows the ugliness.

Day one is a 12 hour 55 minute duty day. Add in my 3 hour getting ready in the morning. Long day.

I slept in till 7AM and started getting ready. At 8:20 AM I left the house and dropped my daughter off at daycare. She's almost a year old. Crazy how time flies.

I commuted up on a 10AM flight. That gave me one additional flight in case I didn't make it on to satisfy the commuter policy.

The agent handed me a boarding pass..a window seat...nice.

I knew it was going to be a long day. I avoided my morning coffee so I could sleep on the flight.

I napped away and woke up about 2 hours into the flight.

Landed on time. One hour to spare.

I stopped by Dunkin Donuts for coffee (headache had set well as still being tired) and updated my Jepp charts.

Very senior crew. Blocked out on time. Right pack was MEL'd. The right pack cools the cabin. Thankfully the ground air had cooled the cabin enough to make it pleasant.

Long flight. VFR at the out station...but they do things oddly.

Long downwind. We were set up for a 21 mile final....on a VFR day...four runways for arrival...and we had a 21 mile final.

Blocked in 10 minutes late.

Two hour and 45 minute sit time.

Next plane was late. We blocked out 15 minutes late.

Headed west we chased the sunset for 3 hours. Getting closer to the next base we got slowed.

The normally VFR airport had 500 overcast and 3 miles vis. Center was slowing all aircraft to minimum forward speed. Lots of turns off course. Finally lined up for final.

Landed on time and blocked in within 14 minutes of on time (satisfies DOT for an on time arrival).

The entire crew was tired. We all commuted in. Our 40 minute turn was down to 23 minutes. Blocked out 5 minutes late.

Due to weather we had a takeoff alternate. Not needed. Quick flight. Landed on time.


By the time I got to the hotel I had been up for 20 hours. I'd flown on 4 flights for 10 1/2 hours. Of course 3 hours was my commute.

Straight to bed. Slept 7 hours and still tired. I'm glad I traded away this trip next month. It's an exhausting first day.

The rest of the trip is there's that. Two legs today, two tomorrow and one on Sunday.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Not sooooo bad

I got my line for August. With my vacation overlapping and proper preferincing during bidding I have August 1-6th off...possibly thru the 15th due to a 2 day trip on the tail end of my vacation that is one leg to the overnight and three legs the next day.

I will have to wait and see how scheduling adjust it.

For the rest of my's all commuteable...but I don't like it. I plan on trading away and moving around all of the trips. Ah the power of a line holder.

I just gotta make sure I get back to letting scheduling screw me over and not screw myself. Ha!

Screwing myself

So I've only been a line holder for 4 months out of the 45 months I've been at my airline. I still have a lot to learn.

I have vacation starting July 30th. My 4 day trip on July 28th was turned into a 2 day trip finishing on July 29th. I was scheduled to deadhead to base and be paid for the rest of the trip.


I read through the contract and thought I understood the rules. I then traded into a different (more commutable on the front end and higher value) 4 day trip starting on the 28th with the thinking that it would be modified and I would still be home on the 29th. This was important as my family is all planning on meeting up down at my brother in laws place in New York.

Well after the trade I contacted scheduling about adjusting my schedule. No can do. It's an unwritten rule that if, after final bid awards, I trade into a trip then it's assumed I want the entire trip.


I contacted my Chief Pilot who told me the same thing. Boo.

So now I work through the 31st. The only good part is I get paid double by working on my vacation days.

Thankfully my wife is patient and understanding. It also helps that flights on the 30th are horrible and we can't get out till the 31st anyway.

It's an odd feeling to be off for 5 days between trips. I start tomorrow with a 2:15PM report time.

The first day is rough...really rough.

Three legs worth 7 hours 20 minutes of flying. In between the 1st and 2nd legs is a 2 hour 45 minute sit in an out station. Total duty day is 11 hours 45 minutes. Add in my 3 hour getting ready. Long day ahead.

After that the rest of the trip is cake.

Thirteen hour overnight then day 2 has just 2 legs worth 3 hours 40 minutes.

Eleven hour overnight and day 3 has 2 legs worth 5 hours 15 minutes.

Eighteen and a half hour overnight leaving day 4 with one leg into base worth 2 hours finishing at noon in base.

This is actually my awarded line. I haven't flown the entire sequence yet. This week will be the only time I will do so.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Four for Three

My last trip was a 4 day. Double Canada overnights. Not my favorite, but I traded into it so I could be home Saturday night to attend a get together with friends.

My original line was a Thursday thru Sunday. This new trip was Wednesday thru Saturday finishing at noon. I would commute home on a 1:15PM flight, walk in my front door at 5PM and head out around 5:45PM.

On day 2 things got screwy. After coming in from Canada our operations advised our next flight cancelled as the plane we were to fly was broken at an outstation.

I checked my schedule. My crew now had a 5 hour 5 minute sit in this airport....which was bad. We were assigned a 9 hour 15 minute overnight (original was 15 hours in the same city)....which is bad. The next day we were assigned 3 legs and would be done on day 3....but paid for the full original trip....which is good.

Overall it was good considering I was getting off a day early.

Our contract states any sits over 5 hours we get a hotel room. My crew discussed it and decided to not get a hotel as it would take 30 minutes to get from the airport to the room and 30 minutes back leaving 4 hours. Of course we had to be back 30 minutes prior to departure so that left 3 1/2 hours. Add 20 minutes to arrange the hotel. Eh. Not worth it.

My Captain bought us all lunch. One of many meals he would end up buying.

Time went fast. Before the flight the Captain bought us all coffee.

Quick flight. We arrived 17 minutes late giving us an 8 hour 58 minute overnight.

Short night. The next morning I met my crew downstairs. The Captain was called the night before advising our show time was adjusted by 2 minutes...later. Reason? Our flight attendant was a reserve and needed 9 hours of rest in order for scheduling to assign him additional flying.

This is pencil whipping at it's finest. The flight attendant contract states they can't be disturbed while on an overnight or their clock starts all over. Ours doesn't have that clause. The Captain chose to answer his phone and thus was notified that we were to arrive INSIDE the airport 2 minutes later than scheduled. Of course the hotel van runs on a schedule and thus left on time. Once we arrived at the airport my Captain and Flight Attendant enjoyed a cigarette before heading in....two minutes later than scheduled.

My Captain bought us bagels and cream cheese.

Blocked out early. My leg. Very light load....a whole 5 passengers. I apologized for my landing before we took off. Light weight landings are much tricker than heavy landings.

Beautiful day...calm winds...and a light airplane. Sure enough at 10 feet it all looked well. I idled the engines and flared....whap. Not horrible...but not great.

Plane swap and an hour break.

My Captain bought us all coffee.

The next flight was to DCA. Due to traffic volume we flew at a whole 16,000 feet.

Initially assigned runway 19 via the river visual. While following the river we were switched over to the tower. Tower re-cleared us to land runway 15.

Captains leg. In his entire career he's landed on 15 only once before. I was offered 33 once....and chose to stick with runway 1 as runway 5 is very short.

The Pentagon sits right infront of runway 15. It was beautiful day and the Captain felt a little odd about flying at low altitude right over the Pentagon. He decided to stay fly left of the Pentagon and then swing it over. Done.

Minimum landing distance for the weight of the plane and the weather conditions was 3500 feet if we used maximum braking and maximum thrust reversers. Runway 15 is 5200 feet long. Of course we don't land at the end of the runway. Landing on the 1000 foot markers left 4200 feet....a 700 foot cushion before rolling into the water. Not a lot of wiggle room.

My Captain was right on the PAPI. Minimal flare, very....very firm landing. Heavy braking and maximum reverse. Slowed to taxi speed right after crossing runway 22.

Ninety minute break. Captain bought us all lunch.

My leg next. Scheduled arrival 4:45PM. I listed on the 5:10PM flight for my commute home. Tight.

Blocked out on time. Runway 19. Assigned to track the 185 radial from DCA outbound. Easy.

Quick over blocked flight. I did fly a bit fast. Assigned runway 27. Winds were 040@06...slight tailwind.

With the tailwind minimum landing distance was 4100 feet. Runway was 9000 feet long. Not an issue.

Decent landing. Long taxi. Blocked in at 4:15PM. I thanked the Captain for all the meals (I think he bought me 4 in 3 days!) and headed out.

I made my way to the crew room and stashed my kit bag.

Arriving at the gate I saw a mainline jump seater. Ugh. Checked the non-rev list. Flight was full. No luck for me.

The mainline pilot got the jump seat. I headed to the gate for the next flight at 6:05PM. On my way I saw a Captain from my airline. He's a great guy and I enjoy flying with him. I wasn't happy too see him though as he was commuting to my home city as well.

Full flight. He got the jump seat.

Frustrated. There was  4:30PM flight (call it flight 800) that was delayed till 7:15PM. There was also another flight scheduled to leave at 7:15PM (call it flight 801).

Most passengers aren't travel savvy. The passengers on flight 800 have been going gate to gate hoping for a seat on another flight since theirs was delayed.

Sure enough most were waiting for flight 801. I made my way to flight 800 since I was betting on getting a real seat and not a jump seat.

Things worked out like I thought. I got a real seat on flight 800. Flight 801 went out full. Passengers who were originally on flight 800 missed flight 800 and flight 801. If I would have tried for flight 801 I would have had the jump seat. Score for me.

Long flight. I arrived home in time to see the 10PM news.

I have 5 days off before I go back.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Kinda wanted to stay home

The commute yesterday looked bad...really bad.

I had to be in base by 3PM. I started my day at 7AM by having breakfast with my daughter.

I dropped her off at daycare at 8:30AM and made my way to the airport. All flights full....more than full...overbooked.

Once at the gate I saw a Captain for my airline that commutes. So much for the jump seat.

I began thinking I really didn't want to go to work and hoped to not get on. I would then try once more and then use the commuter policy.

Commuter policies vary, but most airlines require a pilot to try at least twice (on any airline) to get to base by report time. If they can't they can use the commuter policy. The pilot doesn't get paid but also avoids punishment. I have never used the policy.

To my amazement I was given a seat. The gate agent initially wanted to check my bag. I politely asked if I could try to find space, she agreed...thankfully.

After in base I had 4 hours to entertain myself.

Four day trip. Legs are 2-4-2-1

First flight was blocked for 2 hours 35 minutes. The flight time is only 1 hour 20 minutes. The flight is padded due to chronic delays at both ends and long taxi times.

Sure enough we blocked out 20 minutes late. We then spent 10 minutes taxiing and 10 more minutes waiting to takeoff.

My leg. While en-route I heard several planes along our route being given holding instructions. I told the Captain I would be slowing to save fuel. Flying slow straight uses less fuel than holding.

We held anyway.

Over an hour of hold fuel on board (due to the padded block time), Three laps around the hold (10 mile legs) and we were out.

Weather. RADAR on. I picked to go south. Controller gave us a heading of 150 when able direct to a fix. Fine. After a minute the controller asked how much longer. The Captain said 10 miles. The controller gave us a 180 degree right turn. Just then we were on the backside of the weather and could go direct to the fix. The next was classic.

The controller responded, "Oh god!"

That's it. I stayed on my heading (not turning). The controller came back a minute later and cleared us to the fix.

Glad I went south. All other aircraft were sent north around the weather for more holding. The conga line behind us just got 30 minutes longer.

While on final the weather was quickly moving in. At 1300 feet AGL a master caution went off, "GEN 2 OFF". For whatever reason the right engine generator went off line.

"I didn't do it" was the first thing I said. Quick discussion about the situation resulted in the Captain starting the APU and I continued the approach.

After landing we had an hour break. The Captain bought the whole crew dinner (first time this has happened in a long while!). The mechanics MEL'd the generator. The MEL required us to run the APU for the next flight non stop.

Blocked out on time. Long taxi. A 767 ahead stopped suddenly during our taxi. Ground inquired. The plane had a security issue with a disruptive passenger and needed an immediate return to gate. Not a good thing for the crew considering they were going overseas. Long day. It didn't make the news this morning so it couldn't have been too bad.

Number 20....yes 20 for takeoff. Another padded flight. Arrived in another country on time. Fourteen hour overnight.

Four legs today. Two tomorrow and just one Saturday. Time for food.

Monday, July 11, 2011

When commuting isn't smooth

I've made it home after every trip same day or virtually the same day (arrived home at 1AM a few times). It hasn't been easy.

Yesterday the direct mainline flights were all full and had mainline jump seaters. I had to find a different route.

I looked and found a flight on my airline to an out station, a 90 minute sit, then a flight on mainline home. Looked decent.

The first flight was full. I got the jump seat. The physical seat was more comfortable than the jump seat on the plane I fly, but there was much less leg room.

Once at the out station the mainline flight cancelled. Ugh. I then had an 5 hour wait before my next chance. This is a risk I took flying through an out station. There are only a handful of flights.

I made do. This was a somewhat small airport. Only one place to eat. I was craving a hamburger. The only place to eat has "grill" in their name. I thought, "they should have burgers!" Lies! They had NO hot food. The cashier said burgers were "coming soon" and that all their sandwhiches were cold and premade in the cooler. Nice.

I grabbed a cold lunch and spent 5 hours playing on my Ipad, talking to my dad and then my wife.

One passenger asked where I was headed. I told her I was passing through on the way home. "I don't know how you do this every week, traveling all the time." I smiled, "I love my job."

Commuting is rough. I hate it. This experience has put a big ugly mark on grabbing the first possible upgrade and commuting to be a Captain.

In bound finally came in. Full flight. Same jump seat. Nice crew.

My family was waiting for me on the curb when I walked out of the terminal. My normal 3 1/2 hour commute took 7 1/2 hours.

Off for two days. I head back down Wednesday to start my next 4 day. I have double Canada overnights. Bleh.

After that trip I'm off for 4 days, on for 4 days, off for 3 days then I finish the month with a 3 day trip with a dead head back to base to start my vacation.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Time off

It's been a bit since my last update. I had almost a week off. I did pick up an 11 hour 2 day trip on overtime. After that I spent 5 days with my family. My mother in law was in town as well. It was very nice to not think about airplanes, overnights or commuting for a few days.

This current trip started with a dead head on mainline. This was nice as it took care of my commute.

The dead head was to another hub to start my trip. Oversold flight. I had a seat in coach. On a whim I asked the gate agent if there was any room in first. She laughed but then said, "wait, an international connecting passenger is very late, here ya go!"

Great way to start a month. First class, free meal and a big seat.

The 3 day trip was easy. Just 4 legs...12 hours.

My Captain was new to me. Nice guy. He hit me up for some electronic information after I talked about all the crap I carry (IPad, Kindle, Roku, router). On the second night we walked over to a Best Buy and I gave him the full HDTV differences and important info. After an hour we then hit up a Hooters for beer and wings. Long 18 hour overnight.

This morning it was one flight to the hub. The plane arrived the night before. Preflight done I began programming the FMS when I noticed a status message that wasn't normal. We tried a CTRL-ALT-DELETE to reboot the plane (powering off and on) but it persisted. Grrr. I finished up getting the plane ready while he called in to get an MEL amended to our flight release.

He had a 11:45AM commute flight home. I had a 11:55AM flight for a two leg. Arrival time was scheduled for 11:25AM.

Thankfully it's a Sunday and there are fewer flights. Operations got the MEL issued quickly and we blocked out on time.

My leg. Shallow climb and fast cruise. The computer showed an ETA of 11AM. Great. Then it happened. "Turn right heading 080 spacing." Ugh. Followed quickly by , "Reduce speed to Mach .75 spacing". Ugh.

Gusty approach. Smooth landing. Blocked in at 11:20AM.

Since the Captain's flight was before mine I agreed to shut the plane down and he ran to catch his flight. I was hoping the ramp crew would connect the external power so I could shut down the APU and exit stage left. Didn't happen. After the last passenger was off I shut down the plane and made a dash for the crew room.

Kit bag stowed away I headed to my gate. There was an offline jump seater in line. I knew I was the only on line jump seater. Full flight.

I got the jump seat. I had not been on this plane in a few years. Took me a minute to figure out how to operate the jump seat. Once done I settled in for a quick flight.

Nice crew. The FO I recognized from me sitting airport standby for 2 years. He is very junior to me but flies a different aircraft where he is able to hold a line in my old base. We talked a bit about the differences in aircraft and quality of life.

Once at the out station I headed into the terminal and out of the corner of my eye saw a cancellation posted for my next leg. Ugh.

I snagged a computer and checked...yup cancelled. Next flight was 5 hours from then. This is a risk I took by taking a 2 leg commute through an outstation. There was no hope of me making a direct commute today as all flight are oversold and there are several mainline jump seaters.

So here I sit....I will get another jump seat on the next flight. It's on my airline and I'm (so far) the only pilot listed.

I'm off Monday and Tuesday. I was originally off Wednesday but I trip traded into a trip that gets me back Saturday afternoon so I can go to a friends birthday party that night. The good thing is after that I'm off for 4 days before rejoining my normal line.

With vacation at the end of this month that bleeds into next month, August will be short. I'm anxiously awaiting September when all this commuting will come to an end. For now....I wait.