Sorry I have not posted for a few weeks. As much as I’d love to write more, life gets in the way. Between commuting, flying, and some home improvement projects, I really have not had much time to sit down and write a post. Today, I finally had a little free time. Let me quickly bring you up-to-date.
Last week, I flew back to back three day trips… six days in a row. It was the most flying I’ve done in one week since getting furloughed from United. My travels brought me to San Francisco, Toronto, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Seattle.
It was good to be back in Dallas. I’ve flown there many, many times before, but never with Virgin America. It is one of our newer destinations. We brought full plane loads of people both ways. Not bad for a start-up carrier competing in a “fortress hub” of another airline.
It was also nice to be back in Seattle. I’ve flown in and out several times, but this was my first layover with Virgin America. It was a downtown layover. (Remember my last post about downtown layovers?) I spent the afternoon revisiting all my favorite spots. I stopped by the Pikes Market and watched them throw fish. Then, I continued my tradition of walking through the market and not actually buying anything. Maybe someday something in there will catch my eye. To me, it is all about the people.
On the last day, the weather on the West Coast was horrible. On the second flight, we left LAX in a ferocious rain storm with southeast winds gusting to 40mph. The winds required LAX to conduct takeoffs and landings towards the east. In my entire career, I’ve only seen that a couple of times. Normally, LAX operates to the west. Late at night, for noise abatement, they land to the east and takeoff over the ocean. Very rarely will all operations be conducted to the east. A friend on Facebook mentioned it would be a “different view.” Unfortunately, there was no view. Immediately after liftoff, we were in the soup. We went back to Seattle, then down to San Francisco. We finished late, but I still made it home on the last jet to Denver.
After working a day with my incredibly patient wife on a home project, we took a little twenty hour family vacation in the Rocky Mountains. Then, it was time to go back to fly another trip.
The weather on the west coast was still horrible. I left my house earlier than normal to commute to San Francisco. I knew there would be delays, but was hoping they wouldn’t start until later in the morning. No such luck.
Coming up the escalator at D.I.A., I could see the “Delayed” status next to all the San Francisco flights. United, Frontier, and Southwest were all delayed at least two hours! While that would have gotten me there on time, there was no way I was going to wait two hours and then get bumped or have a mechanical.
So, I strolled down to Southwest’s Oakland flight. With time on my side, I knew I could fly into Oakland and ride the Bart for ninety minutes over to SFO. I checked in at the counter and learned I was the only one requesting the jump-seat. My plan was coming together nicely.
Just as I was getting ready to board, a United pilot arrived and requested the second jump-seat. The delays were really wreaking havoc on the 747 captain’s commute. The flights to SFO would have landed way too late for his report time. So, he came up with a better, but more expensive plan than mine: fly to OAK and take a cab.
“Look, I have to take a cab anyway. So, come with me and I’ll pick up the tab. I insist. It is the least I could do for a guy we furloughed twice.” His offer was too good to refuse.
The two of us rode the cockpit jump-seats to Oakland. When we arrived, it was forty minutes before his report time. We hustled off the jet and jumped in the first of many waiting cabs. The enthusiastic driver wasted no time speeding out of the airport. In the rain and 40mph winds, we made our way across the bay to SFO. I was embarrassingly early. He was right on time. The fare? $100.
After thanking him a couple of dozen times, we said goodbye and headed our separate ways. He went on to command an aircraft with almost 400 people to Japan. (I watched them takeoff from a window overlooking the airport.) I sat for a bit then served as second-in-command on a flight to New York. Thoughts of “what should have been” lingered in my mind.
I went on to fly a great trip: four days, four legs. One take-off and landing per day. After New York, we flew back across the country to Los Angeles. The next morning, it was off to Washington Dulles. (Marc, I asked Washington Center if you were working. They said you just went home!) On the last day, we flew back to San Francisco to complete the trip worth twenty two hours of pay.
Again, I commuted on the last flight out of town. It departed and arrived late. I didn’t walk into my house until 1:30am Mountain Time. I left early, and finished late. But, I never bought a hotel in San Francisco.