Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Long day in airports.....for both Kelli and I

Kelli flew on a plane I was flying (technically flying...it was the Captains leg...I did lower the gear and the flaps though!) for the first time on Sunday. We flew to Shreveport, Louisiana as I had an 18 hour overnight (the longest scheduled overnight I have ever had!) and we could gamble.

We arrived on time and went straight to the rental car counter. National rent a car has a limited amount of cars in Shreveport. I rented a mid-size car for $32 all in. The agent started "humming and hawing" while looking at the list of cars which made me nervous. I asked what my options were as I didn't want to end up in a POS. He offered a Cadillac DTS. Nice so I thought. Hindsight....bad idea. The Cadillac (all the cars really) were not cleaned as there was a bad storm the day prior. Also the Cadillac sucked down gas. Thankfully we didn't drive much and gas is cheap.

After checking into the hotel and changing clothes we ate lunch and then gambled. Kelli went up a bit on roulette...I wavered up and down and then crashed hard. We went back to the hotel for a bit before gambling one more time and then calling it a night.

The flights back to DFW looked bad....really bad. One bright spot is I was flying the first flight out in the morning and that is the most missed flight of the day for passengers. The flight was overbooked by 3. My plane holds 70 passengers plus 4 crew members. I checked Kelli in for the flight at 1:45 AM (non-revenue passengers can only check in 4 hours prior) and she was number 2 on the list. I was feeling pretty good as it was the first flight out...and historically people miss this flight often.

We arrived at the airport at 5AM and I went out to my plane. The rest of the crew was just leaving the hotel. The airline personnel were a bit confused seeing a pilot by himself. I powered up my plane and began setting it up for the flight to DFW. Kelli made her way through security and then took a seat and waited. The plane sits right in front of the waiting area. It was kinda odd seeing my wife waiting to get on a plane I was flying.

Kelli sent me a text that all seats had been assigned.  Kelli had moved down on the list as a few other non-revenue passengers used a higher priority pass than Kelli used. Kelli and I each get 4 high priority passes per year. We already used ours up going to Vegas and Sacramento (thanks Jami for living in a city with limited American Airlines flights!....kidding).

The rest of the crew arrived and they began their routines. The airline personnel assumed the crew was ready and began boarding. I grabbed my laptop bag to bring up to Kelli so she could have something to do while she waited for the next flight. On my way up I had to stop passengers from boarding as the crew wasn't ready. Everyone looked at me then as they were ready to leave. With all eyes on me I walked over to Kelli and gave her my laptop. That had too look odd. Why is a pilot handing this woman a laptop bag?

When the final count was brought to the cockpit...66 adults....4 kids....no room for standby passengers. We fired up the plane and left....with Kelli sitting in the waiting area. The Captain I was flying with told me a story about his own "leaving his wife behind in an airport while he went to work". A few years ago they went to Meridian, Mississippi. This was before employees could check the available seats on the Internet. He called the night before and there were more than 30 seats available. The morning they arrived another airline had canceled several flights and booked them all on American. He flew out while his wife sat in the airport all day long. She tells this story to this day. Now Kelli would have a story.

I went on to make a smooth landing in Dallas. I then flew to Lubbock, Texas and back and then on to Montrose, Colorada and back....all while Kelli sat in Shreveport. Thankfully she had that laptop to keep her company.

I was done with flying at 4PM. Kelli was still in Shreveport. Flights had been full all day. Shreveport gets  8-12 flights a day to DFW depending on the day of the week. Kelli missed everyone of the flights. Along with Kelli were other airline employees also waiting on flights. One of them was a flight attendant I had flown with a few weeks ago. This flight attendant, Lisa,  is a very nice woman who is very talkative. Apparently Kelli and this woman talked a quite a bit. I let Kelli know that Lisa was the one I deadheaded to damn Chicago and back with two weeks ago. When Kelli relayed that to the Lisa, she said that I was a very nice and funny guy. Kelli said it was odd to hear a "stranger" say something nice about me. Hmmm....I think I am a nice a funny person.  Lisa then told Kelli that if they didn't get to DFW that Kelli was going home with her and they would leave in the morning. Airline people do take care of their own.

At 5:40PM Kelli finally sat inside of a plane bound for Dallas. She spent 12 hours in the Shreveport airport. We learned that we will not travel to a small city with limited air service unless all the flights look green. My airline shows the exact number of paying passengers on each flight and color codes the flights green, yellow and red to show at a glance how the loads look. We have never had a problem like this before. Thankfully Kelli is very easy going aand had a sick day to burn.

Too bad Kelli couldn't make that first flight. I made an awesome landing in Dallas. Maybe next time.

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