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Everything happens for a reason…

October 30th, 2005 · 5 Comments

The four-day trip I started last Wednesday morning didn’t exactly start out well. We were scheduled to fly our first day through Detroit and Nashville to Fort Lauderdale. Since Hurricane Wilma had hit FLL pretty hard a few days prior to our trip, the airport there was still closed by order of the local fire Marshall. Apparently there was still insufficient water pressure to operate the terminal’s fire sprinkler system as of Wednesday morning, so they wouldn’t allow it to be opened to the traveling public.

So as I checked in on Wednesday morning, I was notified of a slight change to my schedule. They’d cancelled our flight from Nashville to Fort Lauderdale, and instead they were having us deadhead (fly as passengers) from Nashville to Jacksonville, FL to overnight there. The following morning, we were to deadhead from JAX to FLL to fly our originally scheduled outbound flight. Our operations folks were making a pretty big assumption: that FLL airport would be open by the time we woke up on Thursday morning. The only issue that this rearrangement of our schedule caused was the reduction of our overnight rest from a schedule 15 hours to just under 9. After factoring in a half-hour van ride to-and-from the hotel in JAX, that ends up being about six hours of actual sleep. I think I ended up with about four, after winding down.

Fortunately for us, the FLL airport terminal had been opened early that morning, so when we arrived there, it was chocked full of passengers who had been stranded by the hurricane and were looking to finally get home. The airplane that was to be ours for our day of flying was enroute from New York, Islip (ISP), and was running a few minutes late. When it finally arrived, we prepped the plane for our flight to Nashville and left the gate only 10 minutes behind schedule.

That first little schedule change had increased the pay for our trip. Due to some contract-related scheduling rules, an extra two hours of pay were added to the trip, making it worth a little under 32 hours. But that wasn’t the last of the trip modifications for the week.

After having a nice 16 hour overnight in Seattle on Thursday night, we sat in our airplane at the terminal on Saturday morning while we waited for some very thick fog in Boise to burn off so that we could start our day. Fortunately for us, the fog in Boise burned off rather quickly as the sun came up there, and it only delayed our departure by about an hour. When we arrived in BOI after an hour-and-fifteen-minutes of flying, we were told of yet another schedule change. Our original schedule had us flying from Seattle to Boise to Las Vegas, and then on to Tucson where we’d spend the night. We were schedule to arrive in Tucson by about noon for a nice long overnight. Instead, scheduling needed us to fly from Boise to Las Vegas, then back to Seattle. To get us to Tucson for our departure the next morning, they needed us to deadhead from Seattle to Las Vegas, and then on to Tucson. Instead of arriving in Tucson at around noon, we’d be arriving at around at 7pm.

To the non airline-savvy, this may not sound like such a big deal. But changes to a crew’s schedule that reduces the amount of rest they get night after night begins to be a little unsettling. You might even say that it upsets a crewmember when this sort of thing happens. Having flown for several airlines since the late 1990′s, I’m no stranger to the situation we experienced. This sort of thing happens at every airline from time to time. My philosophy behind the whole thing is to just go with the flow, but at the same time, ensure that we get what we’re supposed to get rest-wise according to Federal Aviation Regulations, as well as ensuring we get what we’re supposed to get with regards to pay according to our contract. In this situation, we were getting consideration for both rest and pay from our crew-schedulers, so there really wasn’t much fretting to be done. It was very low-stress, considering the many changes we were given.

I also believe that everything in life happens for a reason. After our re-flow back to Seattle, I walked into the terminal there to find a good friend whom I’ve worked several flying jobs with. She’s now a newhire at Alaska Airlines, and was heading home to Phoenix for the weekend. After arriving in Tucson, I bumped into another good friend (a flight attendant from the airline where I used to work) while we were waiting for the hotel shuttle van. Had my schedule not been dorked around with as much as it had that day, I would have missed the opportunities to catch up with these two friends whom I’d not seen in quite some time.

So by the end of the trip, I’d had my pay increased by almost twelve hours for the four-day, and I’d had a chance to meet up with some old friends that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. All-in-all, I’d say the extra B.S. was worth all that.

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5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 erica Lubavitch // Oct 31, 2005 at 6:01 am

    What is the minimum rest you need according to the FARs?

  • 2 GC // Oct 31, 2005 at 3:48 pm

    An excerpt from FAR 121.471 – Flight time limitations and rest requirements: All flight crewmembers.

    (b) Except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, no certificate holder conducting domestic operations may schedule a flight crewmember and no flight crewmember may accept an assignment for flight time during the 24 consecutive hours preceding the scheduled completion of any flight segment without a scheduled rest period during that 24 hours of at least the following:

    (1) 9 consecutive hours of rest for less than 8 hours of scheduled flight time.

    (2) 10 consecutive hours of rest for 8 or more but less than 9 hours of scheduled flight time.

    (3) 11 consecutive hours of rest for 9 or more hours of scheduled flight time.

    (c) A certificate holder may schedule a flight crewmember for less than the rest required in paragraph (b) of this section or may reduce a scheduled rest under the following conditions:

    (1) A rest required under paragraph (b)(1) of this section may be scheduled for or reduced to a minimum of 8 hours if the flight crewmember is given a rest period of at least 10 hours that must begin no later than 24 hours after the commencement of the reduced rest period.

    (2) A rest required under paragraph (b)(2) of this section may be scheduled for or reduced to a minimum of 8 hours if the flight crewmember is given a rest period of at least 11 hours that must begin no later than 24 hours after the commencement of the reduced rest period.

    (3) A rest required under paragraph (b)(3) of this section may be scheduled for or reduced to a minimum of 9 hours if the flight crewmember is given a rest period of at least 12 hours that must begin no later than 24 hours after the commencement of the reduced rest period.

    (4) No certificate holder may assign, nor may any flight crewmember perform any flight time with the certificate holder unless the flight crewmember has had at least the minimum rest required under this paragraph.

  • 3 Lauren // Nov 2, 2005 at 6:00 pm

    Have any fights in or out of Vegas next week/weekend? We may run into each other!

  • 4 Sam // Nov 2, 2005 at 8:36 pm

    Heh, I think you and I probably almost tripped over each other in SEA a few times on Fri & Sat. Next time you have a trip that heads you my way, lemme know, chances are good we’ll be able to grab some coffee in the airport Starbucks (or preferably, Coffee People or MoxieJava).

  • 5 Anonymous // Nov 17, 2005 at 9:48 am

    It is interesting to read about your life in the airline.

    I am a 737 Captain for Virgin in Australia – been to Seattle a few times -for the NG course and to fly a few home to Oz.

    I am pleased that we are not the only people doing 4 day trips!

    Good luck with your flying and best regards

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