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Location: Massachusetts, United States

Monday, March 10, 2008

The two-day from hell

I was ecstatic when my line award came out a few weeks ago.
Finally, after months of pining after such schedules, I managed to hold a line with mostly two-day trips. While they tend to start early and finish quite late, they also afford me more nights in my own bed, which has become a luxury.
Saturday morning began the wrong way. For the first time in recent memory, I slept right through the alarm and had to make a mad dash to the airport to make my sign-in time. I met the captain at the airplane, walked around and set up my side for the quick flight to DCA. Except for a few bumps, rain, low ceilings and visibility on the way in, the flight went without a hitch. From there, I was supposed to deadhead to LaGuardia (i.e. fly as a passenger to my next flight), sit for a couple of hours and fly to Columbus, OH for the overnight.
Weather, however, would have it otherwise.
The New York area was completely socked in, so my LGA flight was delayed since the aircraft and the crew were stuck on the ground in JFK, pinned by almost 0/0 conditions. As the fog failed to dissipated, my schedule took a turn for the worst. For starters, my LGA to CMH flight canceled. Trying to speculate as to what my day would become (always a bad, bad, bad idea), I figured that the company might have me deadhead back to Boston, overnight and resume the trip from there the following day since my first leg of the day would take me through my hometown from CMH anyway.
No such luck. A couple of hours into the ordeal, a quick check of my schedule showed me deadheading to LGA, then deadheading again to BOS and finally, deadheading yet again to CMH that night.
Columbus was being pounded with snow, so I continued to hope that our schedulers would realize that that first flight from CMH to BOS the following day might very well not happen. A "free" night at home might not be so far-flung an idea after all.
A few hours after arriving in Washington, I'm finally on the aircraft bound to New York, sitting in the back with a group of very unhappy passengers. The flight is short, albeit violent as moderate turbulence paved our entire route of flight. After deplaning at LGA, I check the schedule again. Still showing me going to CMH tonight. Yet again, eternal hopeful that I am, I give crew scheduling the benefit of the doubt. They'd see the light eventually, and let me spend the night in Boston.
Tired, I board my second deadhead of the day. Again, it's a bumpy ride. A good friend of mine is also making his up to Boston and we spend the duration of the flight catching up. On the approach into Logan, we feel the airplane gain speed. Almost immediately, the engines grow quiet. A second later, they roar back to life as we feel a sinking feeling in our guts. Increase performance windshear, we conclude. Something I'd rather run into when I'm flying up front.
The flight's FO lands the airplane in true style in a complete downpour. We thank him on the way out and he serves me the bad news: looks like we're still going to CMH tonight.
I head into the terminal to check the schedule again. It's a few minutes after 7 p.m. and I've been at work for 12 hours already. Nothing has changed. I made a quick food run, jog down the jetbridge and at about 7:15 find my seat in the back for my third deadhead of the day.
It's a long flight to Columbus, made longer by a 15 minute wait on the ground to allow ground crews to move a mound of snow from our parking spot. My captain, who joined the trip in Boston two hours earlier, is red in the face when I catch up to him in the terminal.
"The bastards canceled Boston!"
As expected, the morning flight to Boston was scrubbed. To make matters worse, it was canceled at 7:10 p.m., while we were still at the gate in Boston, only a few hundred feet from my car and a short drive away from the comforts of my own home. A look at the computer screen shows the aircraft's door was closed at 7:25, giving schedulers ample time to pull us off the flight and send us home for the night.
Angry, we made our way out to the curb, hoping to find our hotel van, which of course isn't there. The air in Columbus that night was frigid. And we spent a full hour in it, waiting for a ride to the hotel.
The next morning, I deadheaded to LGA once more, for one leg back to Boston with a different captain.
After two hours of "airport appreciation" time, we bump into each other at the gate. I produce a print out of my schedule, which would express the ordeal of the previous day better than any words could.
"I'm flying this leg," I proclaimed.
"Yes you are," he smiled. "We're getting a line check."
It's always good to come home. But it was particularly sweet after this trip.


Blogger Sastre Air said...

Great to read your experience. Eagle gets 75% deadhead pay, huh? The East Coast has to be a totally different flying environment then the west. Hope you have better flying days.

8:03 PM  
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4:57 PM  

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