Day In A Life of a Pilot During Irregular Operations

Lets start from the beginning; if you recall, yesterday was a day that originated with me traveling in on a red-eye from San Diego (3 hrs sleep in an upright position), 2 hours sleeping horizontally at the now "old" crashpad, picking up a uhaul, loading up and cleaning, unloading at the new place which happens to be on the 3rd story w/ no elevator, returning the truck, organizing a bit, going shopping at Ikea for a new bed and frame, stuffing it all in a VW Jetta, unloading that up three flights of stairs (again), assemblying and cleaning until 2AM. This is where the fun begins.  The only reason I stayed up till 2AM is because I received a phone call from scheduling telling me that I was to be on short call reserve, which means that if I were to get a call from operations, I would have to be at the airport and in my plane dutied in within 2 hours, at 7:30 with a mandatory duty in at 10:25 for an 11:25AM departure to Omaha, Nebraska.  Instead of 5 legs as originally planned, I was now scheduled to fly one leg to Omaha followed by one leg back tomorrow.  I thought to myself that it shouldn't be that bad, but little did I know.I arrive at the airport a little early (10:10AM) happen to meet up with Kurt, walked to another concourse to pick up my flight bag while grabbing a venti caramel machiatto w/ soy from Starbucks, went to the plane and got it ready to go.  All in all, it didn't seem like it was going to be too harsh, but the weather deteriorated quickly.

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I figured that I should read up on the de-icing procedures in ATL since I've never done it before along with the fact that we were going to be a while until our ticket was up.  We board up, release the parking break and great ready to go.  Once we're on the taxiway, we were told that deicing would take approximately 1 hour from our current spot in line, so we turned off both engines and hung out.  By the time we were number 1 and getting ready to enter the de-ice pad, the forecast and current weather conditions equated heavy snow.  "+SN" limits us by putting a stringent requirement of having to take off within 5 minutes of deicing and the current estimates were about 8-10 minutes.  So, all in all, it wasn't conducive to get deiced with a chance of having to do it all over again.  All the while, we pick up on the radio that the runway was shut down because of poor braking action.  Good thing we just turned back.

Snow AccumulationGetting a parking spot wasn't that much of an issue but since the rampers and gate agents were being overwhelmed with returned aircraft, it was about another 15-20 minutes of sitting waiting with the door open, snow piling up on the stairs and passenger entry way before we started the de-boarding process.  Outside my window, I see this: and record this:

Another two hours pass by, we finally get called back out to the aircraft to continue the flight to Omaha, Nebraska and prepare the aircraft once again. We are notified that it would be another hour till we hear what's going on since the de-ice line is nearing the 2 hour mark, and once again, we sit for about 2 hours in the plane just waiting. Mind you, I've been at work since 10:25AM and I've only been paid for about 1.5 hours and it's already 4:30PM. A ramp agent comes aboard and tell us that we've been Code Sixed - Cancelled and I get a call: Instead of 5 legs today which turned into 1 leg to Omaha, I will be operating a flight to Kileen, Texas departing at 6:55PM. So, I get to sit another 2 hours unitl we depart. To make the story short, I finish the day with a 15 hour duty day, 4.5 hours of block time (hours in the aircraft actually getting paid) and now I sit here blogging in Kileen, Texas and instead of getting back to Atlanta at 8:00AM, I'm not due in till 4:00PM extending my entire schedule! YEA for me!

Here is another video with actual pictures of the snow on the wings of the aircraft.

Third Time is a Charm

I initially planned on hopping on a flight to Tel Aviv on Saturday but then figured out that I could end up going one day early so I tried for the Friday night red eye.  I was fourth on the list and it wasn't looking too good, but I thought that it would work out.  I got to the airport early and low and behold, there were a couple of flights that were diverted to Atlanta due to weather at JFK.  Those planes had passengers that were going to depart to Tel Aviv from JFK but instead were re-routed to ATL.  So, now I was out of luck.  They let 3 non revenue passengers on and I was fourth on the list.  There were over 20 other non revenue passengers that were waiting for a seat for the past few days, so I guess I didn't have it that bad.  I'll give it a try to next day. 

This time, the list looked good enough so that I would get on.  I ended up seeing the same couple from the night before and made friends with a few other familiar faces in the terminal all going to Tel Aviv for a summer vacation.  The flight originally made to depart at 10:40PM ended up being postponed due to maintenance till 12:40AM but as we started to board, the right engine cowl was still wide open with just a lot of flashlights peering into the engine nacelle.  I knew that it might be a little while longer until anything was going to be resolved.  Well, by the time we board and I had a breakfast mimosa, about around 2:00AM, the captain came over the loud speaker and announced that the flight would have to be canceled.  By then, it was almost a no go for, but when I got back to the house around 5:00AM, I saw that Delta had created an extra flight to accommodate the previous canceled flight at 11:00AM.  I called up one of my buddies, made it to the airport on time and even bought an ID90 (airline discounted ticket) on Arkira air so that I could fly to Eilat, Israel once I landed.  I boarded up along with the other people from the 2 previous tries and we headed out!  Third time is a charm.