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A short walk on The Dark Side…

November 28th, 2007 · 2 Comments

The vast majority of trips at my company are of two different kinds. We call them “AM” and “PM.” That refers primarily to the time of the day the trip begins and ends. Lines of flying are mostly pure AM or pure PM, though there is an occasional mix.¬† With AM trips, you start early in the morning and finish your flying day mid-afternoon. With PM trips, you pick up where the AM flyers leave off, flying the airplane to your overnight city, arriving at the hotel sometimes after midnight. Though there are advantages and disadvantages to both, which vary from person to person.

My normal preference is for an AM trip. The reason I choose AM trips are pretty simple, really. First and foremost, I’m a morning person. I wake up almost automatically around 6am and find it pretty easy to get up and get going. I prefer flying during daylight hours. I enjoy having an afternoon at my overnight city to poke around¬† when businesses are open. I prefer to have meals during normal restaurant hours and from regular restaurant menus (instead of late-night bar menus because the regular restaurants have closed). I prefer to avoid some of the “social functions” that PM crews tend to indulge in (because I like my job and my marriage and want to keep both). And finally, I greatly prefer being able to catch a flight home right after I finish my trip rather than going to a hotel or crash-pad for the night and traveling home the following morning.

There are downsides to AM trips, of course. I have to commute to my domicile the evening before I start my trip. If my overnight is on the East Coast, I often have to wake up to be downstairs at 5am to take the van to the airport (which means I’m waking up at 1:30am in my native Pacific time-zone).

For me, however, the advantages of AM trips outweight the disadvantages. Therefore, I typically bid for AM trips. This of course, causes me to be labeled by the PM flyers as a “Day Walker.” That of course, is quite humorous, as we AM flyers refer to the PMers as “Dark Siders.”

But every now and again, something comes up where it is advantageous to fly a trip that’s opposite your AM or PM preference. This week, I’m flying a PM trip. The reason for this is pretty simple. In order to load the end of this month up with flying, I traded an AM 3-day trip that started on the 30th for this PM 3-day that started yesterday. I did this essentially for purposes of increased pay next month (because I get paid for all November flying on the 20th of December). The secondary reason I made the trade was because this 3-day trip had an overnight in Burbank on the second night, and the third duty day of the trip involved a simple one-leg non-flying deadhead to my domicile (which I can be released from by Crew Scheduling). I really only have to work two days for three days worth of pay. A win-win, really.

But flying a PM trip for the first time in over a year is an interesting thing. For instance, I’d forgotten where all the cockpit lighting switches were since I never need them during daylight flying. Geographic orientation was a chore, even in the most familiar environs (like over the South end of California’s central valley) because I’d gotten so used to being able to see terrain features clearly. And of course, fatigue was a bit of a factor because I’d been up since 6am. Last night, I checked into the hotel here in Reno at almost midnight. This morning, I woke up at 6am again and have to sit around until lobby time of 1:15pm.

The buffet was good, though.

Now that I’ve gotten my yearly taste of the “Dark Side,” it will be back to AM flying next week for me.

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2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Gina // Nov 29, 2007 at 3:57 am

    Too funny that you would mention Reno…I had a very excited call from my friend (a “dark sider” at your company) after he checked in on Saturday night. He asked if he could get a room with a view of the train station and got upgraded to a suite and talked my ear off about for half an hour. He’ll be paying for that suite this weekend though when he’s sitting in ELP for 18 hours in what I’m assuming will be nothing resembling a suite.

    Hope your belated Thanksgiving was nice.

  • 2 Tom // Nov 30, 2007 at 2:03 am

    Interesting stuff! Good to see you posting more, please keep it up.

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