Some of you will get this. Others may not. Enjoy nonetheless:
Back in the good old USA at last. Had to fly the last leg without Bob, my copilot. He just couldn’t get over that “haggis hangover” he got in Glascow, so I had to fly with a substitute copilot. Man, the guy was pretty new, so he wasn’t yet up to speed on the way things are supposed to be. Besides, I partied pretty good while in London, so I just wanted to get home.
After about a week off, Bob, my copilot was feeling much better and we found ourselves scheduled for a JFK-LAX transcon run. The airline was running like a well oiled machine that day…Flights being cancelled for “mechanical” problems, gate agents lying about weather, aircraft problems, etc. Even the reservations agents were a part of the “team” for the days events. Started out really good. We got to the airport about noon so that we could meet up with all the other “team” members. Our “symphony of service” was to begin promptly at 4:00 p.m.
A phone call to scheduling to tell them that the 4:30 flight to LA is less than half full, Without even having to ask, the 4:30 flight status is now displayed as “cancelled”. The gate agents tell the pax that the plane is having a mechanical problem and had to be cancelled, and to head down to gate 72 and they will be booked on the 5:30 flight. As the pax grumbled and headed down to gate 72, the aircraft was taxied over to air freight and loaded up with cargo, then it headed out to LAX early, since we really did need the thing in LA the next morning. The gate agents at 72 made an announcement that the flight was now oversold, but we were accommodating as many pax as we could, and that maintenance was currently doing some work on the aircraft.
Me, Bob, and the mechanics were eating steaks on board and enjoying this “maintenance delay”. The gate agents said that the pax were getting restless and demanded to know why the flight was delayed. The agents figured that anything from the Captain would help the pax to understand what was going on. So, I take the microphone and tell the waiting pax that this aircraft had an engine fire on the way in and maintenance was looking for what caused it, and it was just a really elusive problem, and we weren’t sure how much longer it would take, and apologized for the dealy. Then, as I headed down the jetway, I met up with Phil, the IAM mechanic and told him what I told the pax. Phil, the joker, waited about 35 seconds and walked out of the jetway and whispered something to the gate agent. The gate agents then announced that the mechanics found the problem and the aircraft was ready to board.
Once on board, we backed away from the gate and told the pax that we were in an “ATC” hold. Bob, my copilot, and I enjoyed a nice dessert. Our lead FA flipped off the power to the cooler where we were storing that nights meal…fish. We’d tell the pax that it was “Sea Trout” but is was really a bunch of Carp that Bob, my copilot’s, kids caught at his lake house last week. The steaks that me and Bob, and the mechanics ate earlier was really pretty good, and a lot of the crew was based in LA, so we asked the FA’s to tell the pax that all we had was fish or veggies and we would split the steaks among the crew members.
Finally, about two hours late, we are airborne, and Bob has a brilliant idea…once at cruise alitude he throttles way back and slows us down to about 300 knots. That way, we can be really late on arrival, but blame it “nasty headwinds”. The FA’s began meal service as the smell of steamed carp permeated the cabin. With that smell, there was really no need for any inflight antics to upset the pax stomachs…
On final at LAX. The weather’s always too good here, I wish we were going to Chicago or Dallas…get a nice thunderstorm to bump around in. But no, here were are in plain old boring 78 degree LA. Smooth air and no chance for any kind of “weather delay”. So we land and turn off the runway. We taxi to an out of the way place and tell the pax that we don’t have a gate available yet. Bob, my copilot, and I spend the next 30 minutes telling jokes with a couple of the FA’s in the cockpit. Bob crumples paper near the mic for the cockpit voice recorder, lest those weasles at the FAA try to play it to find out what we were doing during those delays.
To the gate and off the plane. Another great “team” effort. These long trips are getting to me…I think I’ll bid on another group of short hops. Until then,