Snowed in in DTW…..or Not
The life of an airline crew is not all fun and games. Commuting to your base can be very difficult and getting home after you have finished your trip is often an ordeal. Being done with work, but stuck in your base can be very frustrating when you are tired and just want to be home. This is the real life experience of a good friend of mine, Captain Bruce Beecroft. He tells an interesting story how thinking on your feet can help you get where you need to be and beat the commuter blues. Bruce is a real character. He has been retired for a little while now and lives in Sioux Falls, South Dakota If you ever flew on one of Bruce’s flight you would never forget the PAs. Here is Captain Beecroft’s story:
Snowed in in DTW…..or Not
Sometime, by choice OR by Necessity, AIRLINE AIRCREW MEMBERS are based at an airport FAR, FAR, FROM HOME. Travel TO or FROM that base airport is called the “commute”. Often these workers even leave home a DAY or TWO EARLY,,just to arrive and check IN ON TIME…..due to BAD WEATHER ,schedule changes, seat availability, whatever. When flight duties are DONE, EVERYONE RUNS for the first AVAILABLE FLIGHT HOME ! ONE SNOWY WINTER NIGHT, we landed our AIRBUS A-320, at DTW, and completed a six day adventure that had taken us to BOTH coasts, TWICE.
OUR ENTIRE CREW faced the GRIM realization that our commute back to MSP ,and HOME, was NOT GONNA HAPPEN. The Airport was nearly closed, it was down to only ONE RUNWAY OPERATION, due to the snowstorm, hundreds of flights just cancelled, many aircraft never landed since they HAD to DIVERT to their alternate airports, ALL VERY BAD FOR US…My trusty FIRST OFFICER ALREADY concluded that we might be stuck for DAYS, before this MESS was resolved ! HOWEVER, WE HAD ONE THING GOING FOR US. We STILL HAD SEVERAL HOURS of available FAA LEGAL DUTY TIME !!! I very quickly called the WHOLE CREW BACK TOGETHER for a PRIVATE BRIEFING. WOULD WE ALL be willing to
VOLUNTEER, to STAY on DUTY and fly a BROKEN AIRPLANE BACK to MSP ???
YESSSSIR was the resounding REPLY! A quick call to MAINTENANCE CONTROL confirmed my suspicion that there WAS an A-320 in NEED of a MAINTENANCE FERRY FLIGHT to MSP. It was in NEED of a special inspection that HAD to be completed BEFORE it could LEGALLY CARRY REVENUE PASSENGERS. It WAS SAFE and READY to be FERRIED with CREW ONLY. THE AIRLINE HAD NO CREW,EXCEPT US. SO ,,The FAA FERRY PERMIT was issued, we waited in LINE for de-icing spray,and we flew HOME EMPTY . An OLD CAPTAIN HAD taught the BRUSKI, SAFETY ABOVE ALL ELSE, THEN TAKE CARE OF YOUR CREW, EVERYTHING ELSE USUALLY WORKS OUT. WELCOME HOME.