Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas (Sorry for the Delay)!

Being a junior Captain, I don't get to pick my own schedule.  As such, I found myself working this fine Christmas.  The trip to the airport started out quite well, as I was pleasantly surprised to find a very striking flight attendant on the hotel shuttle this morning.  We started talking and wouldn't stop!  We ended up walking through security together until we had to split paths.

A very fine day indeed.  :)  Merry Christmas!

I was supposed to grab a flight as a passenger this morning at 8:30, then fly the flight back.  About that.  When I woke up this morning, I found the entire D.C. area covered in thick fog.  I mean THICK fog...even worse than last week which was hard to believe!  The thickness would get down to visibilities of just 800 feet.  That's not much!

Fog thick as pea soup on Christmas!

Needless to say, Christmas flights in D.C. started out with a bunch of delays, my flight being one of them.  So those of us stranded or sitting on-call just chatted it up!  We wished each other Merry Christmases, played football with a paper towel roll, and just sat around and laughed.  A fun crowd this morning.  I grabbed a second cup of coffee and a lil' breakfast bagel and waited for our inbound flight to come pick us up.

And certainly noticed the crying female in the Customer Service line.  I did a double-take.  Yes, I most certainly did.  Not because I wanted to gawk or anything...but just because I am FASCINATED with peoples' stories.  I mean, fascinated.  I made sure to get a third glance on the way back from picing up my coffee.  Yup, she was most certainly crying.  Probably missing a Christmas celebration.  Maybe a Christmas lunch.  Maybe her kids.  Maybe her dying grandma.  Who knows.  But it's certainly a reality to realize that every delayed flight is a life altered.  I never forget that.

I texted my parents Merry Christmas and made sure to call my nieces!  The oldest was sooooooo excited!!!  Just a chatter box!  I certainly don't think about it much, or else that can really wear on you as I noticed in others, but I did miss being there today!  Such is the life I've chosen, though.  I knew I wouldn't be celebrating Christmas until the 29th...and I just kind of roll with it.  But hearing the excitement in her voice!!!  I wanted to be there so bad!  She was just thrilled to be alive!  Love it!

The fog burned off almost immediately around 10:00 A.M.  One minute, thick as pea soup, the next minute, the pea soup was eaten.  Our 8:30 A.M. flight finally departed at 12:35 P.M.  Not a bad way to start out Christmas for these folks.  Sorry, family, I'm going to be late!!!  The good news for me was that my 4 hour and 44 minute sit in Charleston, West Virginia, was now going to be a quick turn!  That was fine by me.

And sure enough, it was.  After we landed, I grabbed the paperwork, told my flight attendant I loooooooooove to be early, and loaded up the passengers.  We departed 10 minutes early after verifying that we had all the passengers (only one open seat!)...I always make sure I don't leave anyone behind if I'm leaving early...and then took off through the low overcast!

I flew this leg, and the flight was just delightful.  Smooth skies, a 45-knot tailwind, and early vectors to final.  I told the passengers I was trying to get them there 15-20 minutes early "if that was ok with them."  I find myself using that phrase a lot...I guess I like it.  But it's kind of funny...I'm sure there's always one that can't stand to sit in the next airport for those extra minutes.  Well, too bad!  :)  I love being early!

But I surprised even myself today.  With the blazing groundspeed, the easy-in vectors, and the early departure, we arrived at the gate 34 minutes early!!!  No joke!!!  Sometimes you can't control the circumstances around you in flying, but for those that I can control, I love using them to my advantage!  I was thanked by more than a couple of passengers when they got off the airplane.

"Thanks for the extra time."  "Thanks for getting us here early."  "Thanks for the extra time...we needed it."

How satisfying!  I won't know exactly how I affected these people, but if I made their brisk walk to their next tight connection just a little bit slower, if I gave them the opportunity to grab their Starbuck's or lunch without checking their watches, if I gave them the simple joy of knowing that airlines can be enjoyable, then I take deep (albeit unknown!) satisfaction in that.

Merry Christmas, passengers!

And I was pleasantly surprised to find that my company  had ordered us catered meals when we landed.  The company met us at the gate and gave us turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and pumpkin pie.  Pumpkin pie!!!  I had two slices after repeatedly begging a flight attendant for hers.  :)

I flew on Christmas.  Some people were quite agitated this morning, but here's to hoping that my quick 46-minute flight found 36 happy people able to focus on what Christmas really is all about.  The less I can have them focus on a delayed flight or a missed connection just might give an open door for some other mental time for the true reason of the season.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Andy, Hope this finds you well. What are you up to these days?

    I am getting my Comm. License down in South Africa. Would love to hear any advice you have.

    My Email is:

    Hope to hear back from you. All the best,

    J. Knox