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Less Of Me…

February 21st, 2007 · 9 Comments

Lately, I’ve been fortunate enough to have a string of eight or so three-day trips that have overnights in BUR. BUR, of course, is my home airport…as far as my commute is concerned. Because I’m home essentially five nights a week, I haven’t been lugging my laptop computer around with me on the road. It sure does make for light travel, but it doesn’t do my blog (or the seven people that read it) any good.

Instead of the computer bag, I’ve been carrying a food bag. What’s a food bag? It’s basically just a cooler that I use to carry things to eat on the road. I’m in the middle of a “slim-down” effort, so staying away from airport food is a must. By packing my own food choices with me, I’m able to do the things I need to do in order reach my health goals. The method of reaching those goals isn’t specific. I’m mainly trying to watch what and how much I eat. I’ve cut out sweets completely, except on the rarest of occasions. I have a small healthy snack between properly portioned meals. Very starchy foods have been scaled way way back, and the meats I love to eat (chicken thigh meat and ribeye steaks) have been replaced by leaner, healthier meats (chicken breast, sirloin steak, and fish). I’m also trying very hard to eat the vegetables I despise. In fact, I think I’ve eaten more broccoli since I started this effort on January 1 than I have in my previous thirty-three years of eating solid foods. I hate it, but its good for me (I guess).

The Aviation Medical Examiner, whom I visited last week to renew my First Class Medical Certificate, says I’ve lost 21 pounds since I visited him six months ago. Since I really only started the program in earnest on January first of this year, that’s 21 pounds in six weeks. Since the goal weight is 230 pounds, that means I’ve only got [hrmph] pounds left to lose. I hope to continue following my modified eating plan long enough for it to become second-nature, but I know that going so long without knowing how to eat sensibly is going to make it difficult to stick with. It helps immensely that my wife is joining me in my efforts. We encourage each other and help keep each other honest. We also take a day every other week or so to eat whatever we want (within reason).

What brought this all on? A little wakeup-call I like to refer to as a “Life Insurance Screwjob.” Even though I’m healthy as a horse (normal blood pressure, normal cholesterol, and a non-smoker) I was denied an increase in my life insurance coverage amount simply because of my weight. They told me that, according to their charts, a man of my height (6’3”) should weigh 180 pounds. This, of course, is laughable since I haven’t weighed 180 pounds since I was in the seventh grade. Even when I played high-school sports and was much MUCH leaner and more muscular than I am now, I weighed in at 225. Their charts are obviously full of shit. So now, my weight loss is actually a mission to see what they tell me in December when I try to increase my insurance coverage again after losing fifty or sixty pounds.

*****

People act differently when traveling by air than they do in their normal routines. Hanging around airports for any amount of time, you might see some very strange acts committed by the average individual. It’s almost as if they’ve checked their brains in with their luggage. Here’s a couple of really stupid things I see a lot at the airport. Some are silly, others are downright annoying and disrespectful.

- Dawdling. Why do people need to dawdle and saunter through airport terminals? Normally, they get in front of me when I’m trying to move rapidly between one place and another (along with 10,000 other people who are trying to do the same thing). It’s usually four (or more) people sauntering in line-abreast formation down a narrow terminal as people with bags in tow pile up behind them, unable to pass.
- Turning left around a blind corner. EVERY TIME I go to turn right around a corner, I end up walking into someone who’s turning left. In America, the rules-of the-road might clue you into the fact that you should turn wide when turning left around a corner. You wouldn’t cut close to a corner when turning left at an intersection, would you?
- Standing less than a foot in front of the Arrivals/Departures screens. Not only do they block the view of the information on the screens by anyone standing at a normal distance, but they also smear up the monitor screens with fingerprints while they’re trying to find their flights. These things are meant to be viewed from a distance!
- Wide airport carts on narrow people movers. The primary idea behind a people mover is to hasten a person’s movement between one end of the terminal and another. Normally, these belts don’t move any faster than a person can walk, but when you walk on it, it doubles your speed. If you want to be lazy and stand there, fine. STAND TO THE RIGHT so people can walk by you on your left (again, American rules-of-the-road). And above all, DON’T GET ON THE PEOPLE MOVER WITH A CART OR STROLLER THAT’S SO WIDE THAT NO ONE COULD POSSIBLY PASS YOU!
- Smoking in the men’s room. If you can’t handle being without a cigarette long enough to get from your car to the entrance to the terminal, you definitely should think about driving to wherever it is you’re going instead of flying. The third stall in the D Concourse men’s room isn’t your private smoking lounge, either. NO SMOKING means NO SMOKING.
- “What’s in…?” Standing in a long, LONG line at an airport restaurant that has a menu plainly displayed above and behind the servers and then asking “What’s in the…?” or “Do you have…?” or not knowing what you want at all is inexcusable. Especially when an airline pilot who’s on a 25 minute turn and is trying to get food for himself and his Captain is standing behind you.
- Cell phones. Sure. Keep talking on that phone about absolutely nothing with absolutely no one important as you attempt to drag your large carryon bags into the airplane behind you while ramming it into everyone’s knees. And keep right on talking as you try to lift that heavy carryon bag into the overhead bin while simultaneously beating the people in the aisle-seats about the head and shoulders with your extra-heavy purse. Oh, and be sure to keep RIGHT ON TALKING after the main cabin door is closed and the flight attendants announce that all cell phones should be turned off. All phones. Including phones held by you, the person in 16C, wearing the t-shirt, ripped jeans, and flip-flops.
- Asking directions. “Which way to the restrooms?” “Just follow the signs that say ‘RESTROOMS’ with an arrow pointing in the direction you’re supposed to go.” I don’t mind helping people out, but silly questions like that get asked all the time.

*****

The FAA will shortly issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) about their intent to “harmonize” the U.S. mandatory-retirement age (currently 60) with the rest of the world (which is age 65). This is good news and bad news, depending upon where you stand how you think as an airline pilot.

If you’re a 57 or 58 year old airline pilot, you will probably be ecstatic, given that you may be given a reprieve from the archaic and discriminatory Age-60 rule so that you can, if you choose to, work to age 65. If you’re 57 or 58, you should be doubly ecstatic since you are probably young enough to see the rule changed before you reach your 60th birthday, as the change could take as long as 24 months from the date the NPRM is issued to take effect. By being allowed to work an extra five years, you’ll be able to keep your three ex-wives living at the standard to which they’ve become accustomed.

If you’re nearing your 59th birthday, you’re probably a bit upset. You will turn 60 before the rule is changed, and the FAA has stated there will be no waivers issued in the interim that might allow you to continue flying while the FAA examines the issue via the NPRM. So you’re stuck with the existing mandatory retirement age of 60.

If you’ve just turned 60 and been “forced to retire” by the FAA, this rule change makes no difference to your situation. The FAA will likely write a section into the new rule that will preclude previously-retired airline pilots from suing to get their old jobs back. That’s probably got you all kinds of pissed off.

If you’re in your 30’s and just starting your career at a major airline, you’re probably a bit miffed as well. The possibility of the old guys sticking around instead of retiring has you facing a longer period of time as a First Officer, which in turn keeps you from making the big(ger) bucks sooner rather than later and knocks your career earnings potential down a notch or two. In extreme cases (super senior airlines or older FO’s), an airline pilot may never get the opportunity to upgrade to Captain. Since all the guys that would be retiring ahead of you and allowing you to move up the seniority list could potentially stay on as Captains, and most-likely won’t be allowed to fly with anyone else who’s over 60 years old, you as a young FO face the possibility of flying with an ever older, even crustier, even crotchetier old Captain. Most likely, that Captain will look upon you as a “whipper-snapper” for having opposed the rule-change that allowed him to extend his career.

If you’re a pilot on furlough from a major airline, a victim of your airline’s post-9/11 downsizing, you’re probably VERY upset. Here you are on the street working a job you had no interest in working instead of being in the cockpit while these old guys whine and complain about how they’re still capable of flying airplanes after age 60. If the rule is changed, it’ll be that much longer until your airline recalls you from furlough.

So there’s every side of the issue I could think of in a nutshell.

Where do I sit in the whole crapstorm? Well, I believe that the age 60 rule is discriminatory. I also believe that there is nothing less discriminatory about being forced to retire five years later. But I also believe that the older guys who are pushing for the rule change are really only thinking about themselves, even though they claim to be making a change that everyone can benefit from (which isn’t untrue). That fact is evident in that most of the guys making the hard charge to change the mandatory retirement age didn’t give a rat’s ass about having to retire at age 60 five or six years ago. Now that their fat pensions are gone, they realize that they won’t be able to live at the standard to which they’ve become accustomed after mandatory retirement, so they want to keep working. For their entire careers, they’ve danced a little jig inside every time a pilot senior to them turned 60, knowing they were moving up that seniority ladder. Now, they want to deny that same benefit to all the younger pilots beneath them on that same ladder. They try to increase the mandatory retirement age to 65 while younger pilots sit at home on furlough from the airlines they loved working for, waiting to be called back when expansion of the airline or attrition of the pilot group causes a need for them again. They call the younger pilots who don’t support the change “selfish” and “disrespectful” when surely they’d have felt the same way if the older guys tried to have the rule changed 30 years ago.

What I would do if I were writing the proposed rule change? Well, for starters, I’d still raise the mandatory retirement age to 65. Right behind that, I’d write a rule that says no one over age 60 can act as Pilot In Command (Captain) of a civil airliner, effectively requiring everyone over 60 to return to the right seat as First Officers. Why? Well, they’d still get paid (a fair amount, mind you…max FO pay at my airline is $130 per flight hour, or an average of $132,000 a year) and the younger guys behind them would still get to advance to Captain in a reasonable amount of time. With that rule, you’ve got two choices when you turn 60: fly as an FO and still make a good salary, or retire and go have some fun somewhere sunny. Unfortunately, there really is no fix to the proposed change that would allow the furloughees to return sooner. Only the expansion of their airlines can help that.

At any rate, it looks as if the rule change will become a reality. It doesn’t make me happy, but I’ll live with it. Personally, I don’t have any desire to work past 60. In fact, my retirement planning is set up to allow me to retire comfortably after my 55th birthday. Should something strange happen in my life, I’ll work to age 60 and then hang it up, professionally. Will it be hard to walk away from the career? No doubt it will. But it will be equally as hard at 60 or 65.

*****

Blog update!

Curt over at The Outer Marker has landed his first airline job! Congratulations on finishing training!
Captain Dave makes some good points about the recent “captivity” of one particular airline’s passengers during a rare weather event recently.
Ron at The House of Rapp likes watching airliners go around while he points and laughs at them.
Aviatrix is still in Canada, even though her profile says CA (or is that pronounced: “C, eh?”
Boeing’s Randy Baseler has posted this fantastic photograph of the first 787 forward fuselage section.
Sam’s “Landing The Job” series on Blogging at FL250 is still going strong.
Desiree’s helicopter job still looks like it might just be the one job that’s more fun than mine. Too bad helicopters scare the bejeezus out of me!
John’s latest post over at Aviation Mentor talks about how a healthy amount of pessimism makes a good aviator.

I’m glad to see everyone else is keeping their blogs current!

Tags: Uncategorized

9 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Sastre Air // Feb 21, 2007 at 9:33 pm

    Great post. I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, and I very much enjoy your entries. I’m a ramper and I’ve been in PHX airport for numerous times and I can really relate to your rant on meandering airport passengers. Anyway, just wanted to let you know there’s yet another reader out there that enjoys your blog.

  • 2 GC // Feb 21, 2007 at 9:38 pm

    Thanks for the compliments! You’re officially reader #8! ;)

  • 3 John // Feb 21, 2007 at 10:32 pm

    Hey GC,

    Congrats on the weight loss. I’ve been in a slim-down program of my own and I know it can be tough. Especially after you turn 40 and the FATBURNING gene gets turned off!

  • 4 Nicolas // Feb 22, 2007 at 11:57 am

    Hey GC,

    You can count me as reader #9/10 depending on where the count is at now. I humbly request that you opt to take the laptop with you more often. Yes it’s a pain to take through security but the grounded blog readers need their fix!

    I like your solution to the age sixty problem. There is really no way to win in that situation. Your solution simply seems like a good compromise.

    Flying out of BUR must be fun. That’s on my personal “no fly to list” due to the short runway and surrounding terrain.

    You’ve probably unknowingly flown me around already as I do a fair amount of traveling between KSMF, KSAN, KPHX and KONT. It always nice to know there is someone like you on the point keeping the geysers flying straight.

    Keep Blogging

  • 5 Anonymous // Feb 23, 2007 at 6:54 am

    Great post!…I know how you feel!
    As a F/A it can be very frustrating trying to get people to turn off those cell phones.
    Noone on the earth is that important!

  • 6 chad // Mar 9, 2007 at 9:08 pm

    Great blogging. I’ve been enjoying for a while now.

    Please add mine to your blogroll: http://flying.org

    And I will add you to the link directory if you are interested.

    Keep up the good work.

    Chad
    flying.org

  • 7 iphlye // Mar 29, 2007 at 7:30 pm

    Hey Glenn, good to hear about your “less of me” thing – something that we all fight as we age. Yes, some of the expectations of the “general” charts is unreal, but getting down within range is also a good thing. Mine says 185 to 190 also, and I am very comfortable at 210.

    Isn’t the age thing fun? When I flew it was the captains coming back as 747 FE’s (remember those side saddle guys?) because they didn’t want to retire (no life left) or couldn’t retire (to many alimonies to support). So, that, along with DeReg (which would be over in a couple of years – yeah right) put a lot of us on the street.

    Yes, it may slow you down a bit, but your plan is a good one – plan for the retirement when YOU want to do it – and the good health thing will be a BIG help!

  • 8 Heather // Apr 28, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    I’ve lurked on your blog for some time, just want you to know how much I enjoy it.

    I’m an MCO FA but I started with the company as a CSA in BUR. One of the annoying airport behaviors that would infuriate me as a worked the gate was people who would scroll through their cell phone ringtones over and over and over… Just sit at any BUR gate for a while, the ringtone guy will find you!

  • 9 Aviatrix // Jun 21, 2007 at 12:22 pm

    I’m not justa ilot, I’m also a passenger, and I can tell you that dawdling and scrolling through celltone ringtones are both a consequence of the airline telling me to check in a minimum of 90 minutes before my flight. So I check in, clear security amd note that my flight won’t be boarding for another hour and fifteen minutes. So just how fast am I going to walk to the gate? I haven’t resorted to being ringtone guy, but changing the options on my cellphone ranks right up there with wacthing the arrival gates change for entertainment.

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