Late last week, we were sharing stories while cruising along at 37,000 feet. On a five and a half hour transcontinental flight, sometimes that’s the best way to pass time. About halfway through telling a story, I realized it would make a great blog entry. So, I will share it with you.
Years ago, I was sitting with a United crew having dinner at a very unique T.G.I. Friday’s in Phoenix. The floor to ceiling windows overlooked Chase Field. Since the Diamondbacks were not playing that evening, we had no trouble getting a table. (On game nights, a reservation and hefty fee was required for the entire table. Without a game, it was a traditional restaurant.)
Our flight attendants wanted to talk about some of the stranger pilot personalities at United. All the legendary stories surfaced.
We talked about the pilot afraid of radiation exposure at altitude. After takeoff, he would drape himself in aluminum foil. Must have been a great site.
Then, there was the story of the UFO enthusiast. In his pre-flight briefing, he would discuss the maneuvers to execute if the aircraft encountered an alien spaceship. Rumor had it a flight manager threatened termination if another word was ever said about evasive maneuvers.
Just remember… all professions have a few quirky people…
One of the ladies told a story of the oddest captain she’d encountered. The captain carried a tuxedo with him on his trips. He would fly on weekends and bid long layovers with downtown hotels. Usually, on a Friday or Saturday night, nice downtown hotels host wedding receptions. He would change into the tuxedo, go downstairs and mingle with the crowd. Yes, United Airlines had a professional wedding crasher.
We all got a good laugh out of the story.
Years later, after 9/11, getting furloughed, and returning to United, I flew a four day trip with a very nice captain. As we flew, we started talking about the lack of flexibility with our schedules. During busy months, it was impossible to drop or trade trips… conflicting life events really didn’t matter.
The captain started telling me of a trip he did right before his daughter got married. It was a four day trip that ended the day before her wedding. He tried, and tried, and tried, but could not move the trip. The rest of his family had to participate in the pre-wedding celebrations without him. He finished the trip and immediately commuted to wherever she was getting married. Aside from missing his family, the hardest part was carrying his tuxedo around with him for four days.
“I had fun with it though,” he admitted. “I told the flight attendants I carried it so I could crash weddings on my long, downtown layovers.”
I told him about the dinner at the baseball stadium. We laughed harder and longer than anyone that night back in Phoenix.