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Ever been obsessive-pissed?

December 31st, 2004 · 1 Comment

I think I’ve just coined a new term. I’m so pissed off that I’m obsessing. I’m “obsessive-pissed.”

This morning, I took a chance and commuted out to Denver on the 0600 flight from LAX. It got me to Denver exactly fifteen minutes before I was scheduled to show for my trip today. After checking in, I tried to pull up our flight release on the computer, and it wasn’t available. “Strange,” I thought. They’re usually available within an hour of my departure.

So I phoned my dispatcher.

“Yah, we’ve got you on a delay. We wanted to talk with you about the weather in Fargo.”


The weather itself wasn’t bad, really. What was iffy was that they’d had about 3 hours of a light freezing rain over the airport and the runways were all glazed over with about 1/4″ of ice, making them very slippery. With 10 to 15 knot crosswinds forecast at our time of arrival and braking-action reported as being “poor” to “nil” (nil being the aviation-way of saying “piss-poor”) I felt that it was prudent to postpone our departure and allow the Fargo airport folks to make the runway a little more servicable. My dispatcher agreed.

So we waited. Three hours of updates later, we (my dispatcher and I) decided that we had improving conditions and that it would be safe to head out there. We added an alternate airport to our flight plan in case things hadn’t actually improved as much as they said they had. When we arrived in Fargo, we touched down on a relatively clean runway that had been plowed and sanded to the best of their ability. We reported the braking action to be “poor to good.”

Here’s the part where I got pissed.

After pulling into the gate, I’m met by a very pushy captain who was to take over my airplane for the trip back to Denver. After pushing his way onto my airplaine (yeah, mine…I hadn’t handed it over to him yet. In fact, we still had passengers on board).

“Why didn’t you get here earlier? The runways have been fine for two hours.” he said.

“Really? Well, we couldn’t determine until two hours ago that the runways were servicable. We launched when we found out, and it’s an hour-and-a-half flight.” I said.

“We’re going to be late all day because of you. You should have launched earlier. You could have left with an alternate on the flight plan.” he complained.

“We did have an alternate of Sioux Falls.”

“There’s nothing in the regs about not being able to launch to an airport with bad breaking action.”

“Perhaps not, but there is something in our company limitations about crosswinds and contaminated runways. I made a decision based on the information I had in front of me. My dispatchers agreed with me.”

“Well we’ve all missed our commute home now. Thanks a lot.” he steamed.

“These things happen, buddy. I’m sorry, but I made a decision that was conservative and prudent.”

Not once in my four years as a captain has anyone questioned any kind of decision I’ve had about dispatching an airplane that’s under my command. I’m SO pissed that this guy thought he had reason to question my judgement when he wasn’t there to look over the information I had been presented with. The decision I made (along with my dispatchers) to delay the flight was for the sake of safety, as I would have been taking the airplane with 50 passengers and 3 crewmembers into a situation that was beyond my level of comfort.

So to him I say, “Tough toenails!”


I had a nice chat yesterday in the Denver crew lounge with the captain I described above. I found out he was given some erroneous information about why our inbound flight to Fargo was delayed. Apparently, he’d been talking to the dispatch coordinator (not the dispatcher of our flight) who was having a rough day working the Denver and O’Hare systems. He apparently sounded frustrated about my decision, but in reality he was just having a tough day and my delayed flight was just another issue he was dealing with.

There’s got to be a physical property that describes transfer of anger that’s similar to the transfer of energy.

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 JC // Jan 1, 2005 at 11:24 pm

    Thats Okay, I would still rather ride on your plane. Good on you that you didn’t loose your cool with him!


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