Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Jumpseating Adventures

(The following post was originally started on Saturday, November 3rd and finished on the 17th, but I haven’t hardly been online over the last couple of weeks and thus haven’t gotten around to posting it.)

You know you’ve been watching too much Seinfeld and it’s wayyy too early to be up in the morning when you start coming up with a Jerry Seinfeld’s standup-esque series of jokes while you’re in the shower about something completely mundane about everyday life (which is his trademark style of jokes). Once again, I’m up entirely too early (especially for a Saturday) sitting in the airport waiting for a flight (it’s presently 5:23am).

To recap the last week, I made it back to Billings after visiting Mimi about 10:30 at night. It was a really good visit, but overall the process of traveling there and back ended up being an over 20 hour day, so I was exhausted when I got back. The good news is that the last flight of the night, United put me in the exit row of a 737-500 (which is technically part of the Economy Plus section, which has extra leg room). But, instead of being the typical 5 extra inches that most of the Economy Plus section contains, this exit row had the most leg room I’d ever seen in any airplane (even first class). Sitting in my seat, I could stick my leg straight out in front of me and still have 5 inches of space between my heel and the back of the seat in front of me! Needless to say, it was a nice change of pace from the cramped Coach or even-more-cramped jumpseats I usually end up sitting in. Anyway, Sunday I took a really long walk (which I’ll get to in a minute) and then started sitting on Reserve on Tuesday.

Reserve is essentially being on-call in case a pilot gets sick, runs out of duty time, can’t make it to a flight, etc. On the days that I’m scheduled to be on reserve, I have to be available to answer my phone from 7am to 7pm. They’re required to call me at least one hour before I have to show up for the flight (and I have to call back within 15 minutes if I miss the call), so I’ve made a habit of getting up so that I’m actually reasonably awake by the time 7 rolls around. They’ll usually just give me a couple of legs when they call instead of a whole multiple-day trip, but I want to be fairly awake in case they give me an overnight or two so I don’t have to go crazy trying to get up and pack on really short notice.

Anyway, I was on reserve from Tuesday through Friday this week, but didn’t have to fly at all. They almost had me fly a couple of flights on Tuesday, but ended up not needing me because they had someone volunteer to pick up extra flights and they needed someone else to take a flight in order to do a Line Check (a routine check of captains required by the FAA). The annoying thing about being on reserve and not flying is that I have to stay close to the Rimrock in case they call, so I’m liable to go stir-crazy from being trapped there all the time (can’t even go up to the Rim because if they call while I’m up there I won’t have enough time to get back, get ready, and get up to the airport within an hour).

Now I have a couple of days off before I start reserve again on Monday, so I’ve decided to jumpseat to Minnesota to visit my grandparents and uncle and aunt (and my cousins) because I won’t get to see them over Christmas like I normally do.

OK, let’s jump ahead a couple of weeks. I was in the midst of typing out the post you’ve just been reading when something happened to interrupt me (I think it was time to board the plane to Minnesota) and I simply never got back to writing it. It’s now been a busy two weeks since the above text was written. Quick recap:

-The trip to Minnesota was great, I really enjoyed seeing the family and I had no problems getting back to Billings on time. I even had the opportunity to go to the Mall of America to pick up Shane’s birthday present (abit a little belated). The downside was that it took Sarah and Sam (the cousins, 3 and 2 years old respectively) most of the time I was there to warm up to me because it’d been so long since they’ve seen me (I don’t think Sam was even able to remember who I was). Still, they eventually warmed up to me and we had a lot of fun.

-I finally got to do some flying that week. I was lucky enough to get called to do the Portland trip on Wednesday, which I’d really been hoping for because I wanted to see some of the scenery toward the west (all of my previous flying had been North, East, or South of Billings, which has much less interesting terrain). Our route took us to Helena MT, Missoula MT, and then to Portland OR. Missoula was especially fun because it’s in a valley surrounded by terrain and on the approach I descended between two giant hills that were a mile or so apart, so it was both really fun and terrifying to look out the window and see terrain higher than us a half mile off either wingtip. We were delayed in Missoula due to some fog in Portland and had to fly most of the way there in the clouds, but when we got close to Portland the skies cleared up and we could see Mt. Rainer, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Saint Helens (which had a little puff of steam coming out of it)! Naturally, I was quite excited. The other flight I did was on Friday, which was a quick trip to take a working airplane (and a mechanic with spare parts) up to Wolf Point where a plane had broken down. We then let the crew that was stranded there (and their passengers) take our airplane and keep going on their route while we waited for the mechanic to fix the airplane before we flew it back to Billings.

-Last weekend I flew down to Cincinnati to look for apartments. Josh flew in from Boston to look with me (we’re going to be roommates) and Kathy drove down from Purdue to be our wheels around town. We’ve got it narrowed down to two places and we’re going to sort out which one we’re going to live at when we get back to Cincinnati this coming Monday. Please pray about this, because the one we like better is more expensive by about $50, but we just found out that they have a unit that’s only $20 more expensive available and that someone had already applied for it (as of when I talked with them earlier this week, the application hadn’t yet been approved or denied, so please pray it’s denied so we can get that fantastic deal). On my way back to Billings on Monday, I got stranded in Minneapolis for about 9 hours (the earlier flight to Billings was full, so I had to wait for the late one), so I had Roxy pick me up and I spent the afternoon with my family again. That was especially fun because my last visit was recent enough that Sarah and Sam clearly remembered who I am and warmed up to me very quickly.

-This Wednesday I had an overnight trip to Glasgow which was delayed because of a minor security breach while boarding the plane in Billings. Long story short, a passenger saw that his suitcase was on the cart of bags being bumped until the morning flight (because we were overweight) and managed to dart over to the cart, grab his bag, and get back in the boarding line without being noticed. Then he ripped off the checked baggage sticker and tried to pretend it was a carry-on. Needless to say, this is highly illegal (because you can put a lot of things in checked baggage that you can’t carry on the airplane, like for example, a gun or a bottle of water), so we had to deplane all the passengers, send them back through security, have the guy questioned by the cops, I searched the airplane with a cop, and then we finally departed about an hour late. I don’t think the guy had any malicious intent, but he still got in a lot of trouble and has been fined $2800 for it.

-The good news is that yesterday (Friday) was my last day of reserve in Billings before moving to Cincinnati.

-The bad news is that they gave me an overnight trip last night, so I wasn’t able to catch the early morning Northwest flight that I was hoping for, which brings me up to the here and now…

My plan for the weekend was to catch that Northwest flight to Minneapolis and then hop onto another one from there to Indy, where Kathy would pick me up and drive me up to Purdue. I’d spend the afternoon and evening there and then catch the Sunday morning Amtrak up to Chicago after spending the night in Adam’s room in Cary. Once in Chicago, I’d do laundry and then pack my car before going to bed early in preparation for an early morning departure to Cincinnati. If I make good time, I’m hoping to stop at Purdue for a late breakfast along then way. Then I’ll get to Cinci early afternoon and meet up with Josh so we can sort out which of the two apartments we’re going to go for.So, now that I got stuck with that overnight last night, I’ve had to revise my plans. Because I got back to Billings too late this morning to catch any of the early departures, I’ve decided to hop a ride on the Repo flight in order to get out of here. Big Sky’s airline service out of Cincinnati starts tomorrow (Sunday), but we don’t have an airplane down there yet, so today they’re flying 165YV on a straight non-stop flight from Billings to Cincinnati. If we get there on time, I’m hoping to catch a Delta flight to Indy where Kathy will pick me up as planned. The downside of all of this is that I won’t get to Indy until about 5:30pm (and thus Purdue around 7ish), so the time I can spend with people will be drastically reduced. You might now be asking why I’m even bothering to go to Purdue at this point rather than just going straight to Chicago. I have three primary reasons (numbered according to importance):

3. I’ve already spent $40 on the Amtrak ticket

2. A little time is better than none at all

1. A year ago today I took Kathy to the Silver Dipper ice cream shop after Cru and we officially started “dwaiting.” (for those of you unfamiliar with that term, it was invented by Mike Rose and is essentially a transitional phase of easing into a relationship rather than jumping straight from being friends to dating. If that oversimplified summary didn’t make any sense, ask me and I’ll explain it further) For the record, I don’t count this day as our “anniversary,” I prefer to use that term for the point when we actually started dating, but it’s still an important milestone for us.

One last thing before I finish this really long post spanning the last three weeks; I’m not the only person catching a ride on this reposition flight to Cincinnati. Also on board is Jeff Bost (not sure of his title, I think he’s the Director of Flight Operations), Fred Deleuw (the President of Big Sky Airlines), and Fred’s wife (whose name I can’t remember). That’s been cool for me because I haven’t yet had the opportunity to meet Fred in person (usually he goes and introduces himself to new-hire classes, but he didn’t make it to ours) and it’s been good to be able to get to know him a little. I actually spent the entire first hour and a half or two hours of this flight talking with his wife and learning all about their family, their daughter who goes to Purdue, etc. When she found out how long I’ve been living in the Rimrock, she felt bad for me and said she wished she’d known I was there because she would’ve invited me over for dinner. :) Apparently, Fred had tried to talk Dispatch into letting us stop in Lafayette for fuel, which would have been perfect for me because I’d have just gotten off the plane there and been done with my travelling, but sadly the plane is lightly-loaded enough that we have room to completely fill up the tanks and fly to Cinci nonstop. Oh well.

Anyway, at the moment we’re about an hour from Cinci and in 20 minutes or so we’ll fly right by Purdue, so I’m hoping the clouds below us will clear up so we can spot it as we go by.

If only I had a parachute…


At 4:40 PM, Blogger Rebecca said...

Sounds like you've been pretty busy lately. I was kind of wondering what's going on... I think I also need to update Amy's number in my phone because she said she was going to hang out with you and Kathy and I tried to call and didn't get her, I think it was her old phone... Anyway I heard you got to eat one of my cookies, so you can't say you always miss out. The Post Office must have waited about a week to deliver them because they knew you'd be there. I'm kind of rambling, but I think it's ok because I'm in a good mood from finally hearing from you and listening to an old Amy Grant tape (yes, tape, I got out the old walkman, worried that all my tapes had gone bad or something, but the walkman just needed new batteries)... ok I'll quite before my comment is longer than your post. Did you see my aquarium pictures?

At 2:09 AM, Blogger Tiller said...

Did you die? Post!


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