Yesterday was a long day. I woke up in my own bed around 5AM as that's when my sugar momma (aka Kelli who thankfully agreed to support a regional First Officer) gets up. I was assigned reserve at home from 10AM until 2AM. At 9:59AM my phone rang. Three day trip assigned.
It wasn't horrible. It started and ended with deadheads. The first to Chicago and the last from Arkansas. Chicago had run out of First Officers. I was being sent to cover a trip. I've become quite comfy with Dallas and don't care to fly out of other bases. Eh.
The first deadhead flight on American was delayed. I was really hoping I would mis-connect to the flight to Atlanta I was assigned. Since I wasn't based in Chicago the airline has to pay for a hotel. It wasn't too be. Every flight was delayed. I made it in an hour late. The flight to Atlanta was delayed by 90 minutes. I grabbed dinner. I wasn't hungry, but I knew that the delays would mount so I grabbed food for later.
The flight was supposed to leave at 4:15PM. We blocked out for the first time at 5:55PM. Full load of 70 passengers plus a jump seater. After waiting a bit we were in the process of being de-iced when a caution light came on. Time 6:15PM. The APU door wouldn't close. Deicing stopped. Mechanics called. By the time they arrived we tried opening and closing the door a few times and got it to close. Of course by this time we were reattached to the jet bridge. A few minutes later we blocked out again and once again waited to deice. We were finally deiced again at 7:10PM. The passengers had been on board for almost two hours. The flight was blocked for 90 minutes. Flight attendants were running low on water/snacks/booze. Because we had deiced, catering was not allowed to open the service door. They would have to make do.
At 7:48PM I advanced the thrust levers and focused my eyes on the bright lights shining up from the center line of the runway. Visibility was down due to blowing snow. We didn't clear the snow/clouds until more than 10,000 feet AGL.
Atlanta also had snow and wind. The Captain had never deiced in Atlanta. I have only flown to Atlanta once before.
Just about every airport I go to deices planes differently. Some deice at the gate. Others on the ramp. Others on a taxiway and others at the runway. All different.
We blocked in and recorded 3 hours of time. Wow. Being so late (more than 2 hours late) most of the passengers who were to fly back to Chicago were gone. Only 11 stuck around. The entire crew was tired. The Captain went in to get Burger King for himself and the Flight Attendants. I had Salmon Panini's (they sounded good 4 hours ago!) and a cranberry muffin. Burger King had long since closed. We blocked out 25 minutes after blocking in. Atlanta is a Hub for Delta. Ton's of Delta planes around who know the deicing system. Then there was us. It took us a bit to figure out where we were headed to deice. The airport reported light snow although none was visible out the window.
We eventually found the deice line. The ground controller instructed each plane to follow the "follow me" truck to a deicing location. It was kinda of funny to readback, "Flight 9021 roger left on Echo, right on DIXIE (They don't use the normal D word being Delta...because Delta is based here and that would be confusing) then follow the follow me truck." Eh. Just had to be there. "Follow the Follow Me truck."
To our surprise the "Follow Me" truck was an airport operations Ford Explorer with strobe lights all over it. There was no "Follow Me" anywhere on it. Scam.
Once we were de-iced a new weather report came out. No snow. Nice.
The Captain tried to fly fast back to Chicago but 180 knot headwinds thought otherwise. I munched on my long since cold Panini's. They were actually quite tasty.
Whenever we are delayed I joke that we strive for "same day service". Well last night we didn't even make that. We pulled into the gate a few minutes after midnight. I had been awake for 19 hours. I had been on duty for 14 hours 15 minutes. Scary thing is I was "legal" to fly until 2 AM. No way I could have.
Thankfully scheduling already set up a hotel for me. The rest of the crew is based here. All commuters. Since they are based here they have to pay for their own hotel. Part of "the lifestyle". I printed out my hotel voucher for the Holiday Inn Select and made my way through and empty airport to the hotel van.
Today I have one deadhead to Cleveland. I fly the same plane back to Chicago then deadhead to Dallas afterwards. I should land in Dallas at 10PM. I am betteing I will be delayed though. Wouldn't mind another night. Nice hotel. Comfy bed. Great gym.
I learned long ago to always travel with food. Reason being the nice hotels I stay in (like right now) have high priced restaurants. I have ZERO desire to trudge through snow to find food. Thus I have the following food pyramid to pick from.