"Flight Deck to Ground”
The first leg out to Vancouver was uneventful. Hit some moderate turbulence for 30 seconds near Cranbrook (YXC) nestled in the Rockies. I jokingly told my F/O, “it’s welcome to Cranbroook turbulence.” Over the years, I’ve noticed the airspace above YXC has been known for it’s bumps. It's a combination of a jet stream, sometimes a mountain wave, etc.
The flight started off with a “get to know each other conversation” as it was our first time flying together (ninety percent of the time it’s the first time we meet). Turns out he too originated from Halifax. Because the pilot group is a tight knit group we did the “do you know such and such?” It turns out, my f/o during my Navajo days, an ex JAZZ pilot now a pilot for Nav Canada, recently hired my f/o’s wife as a dispatcher. That's how close things can be.
Normal from not so normal- the Moscow lady.
While walking back from a Sushi restaurant in the Vancouver airport, a young attractive female approached me with a question. (I know what you’re thinking) She wanted to know why no one was at the Cathay Pacific kiosk. The f/o and I tried to help and suggested she call the number displayed on the counter. She had no part of it. It appeared see had a piece of paper with a possible confirmed ticket with Cathay.
Her English was broken… smothered with a thick Russian accent. Later the f/o admitted her accent had an effect on him. I won't say how. :)
She wanted to buy a ticket to Moscow…now! Of course I’m wondering why a young provocatively dressed attractive woman wanted to go flying with no apparent baggage.. I told her she could fly to Moscow via Frankfurt with us and then to Moscow with Lufthansa. We took her to the ticket purchase counter about five minutes away and there she proceeded to buy a ticket. The F/O suggested I book off and take her myself to Moscow on a 'pass'. Then he suggested I get an an award of excellence for selling a last minute ticket to Moscow. Pilots!
Flight deck to ground?
The next leg, YVR-YYC, started with just two flight attendants – we need four on the A320. One flight attendant was drafted after having flown from London, England to Vancouver and was deadheading to Calgary. The other was on her fourth reassignment for the day in Vancouver jumping from airplane to airplane because she was bilingual. One F/A had to be moved up to the in-charge position so we had to get her a “move up” package (paperwork) and I explained a few things.
Finally the short staff situation was resolved. The ground crew checked in 20 minutes before and were ready to go.. or so I thought.
We want to close up. I call down to the tractor, “flight deck to ground…” Nothing.
“Flight deck to ground.” Nothing. We call operations, apparently the ground crew's shift ended and they went home. We wait. I make an announcement explaining things. That’s why I get paid the big bucks.
Finally, a crew arrives. The tug driver, a young perky female voice, gives a “communication check” and says, “okay captain lets get you guys out of here.” After a 45 minute delay, I liked her spunk.
Off to Calgary where the weather observations showed a downward trend. The approach onto runway 34 greeted us with a 200 foot ceiling and ¾ miles visibility in a cold drizzle. Heck we even picked up some ice on the approach and they were issuing runway condition reports – the sign of a seasonal change.
Day II (today) started with a passenger not showing up. The bags had to be sequenced (removed) in Calgary this morning. A 15 minute delay.
We arrived in Toronto close to sked after taking a seven minute delay to rearrange passengers in Vancouver.
The f/o commuted from YOW (Ottawa). Being on reserve he was flown out for the month. While taxiing to the gate he told me a cute anecdote. While commuting a couple of weeks ago during push back in a B767 from the gate in Ottawa the APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) fell off line. Darkness! The 767 f/o came on the P.A with a curt voice, “someone didn’t turn off their cell phone!!!!” Everyone starts feeling for their phones. After a brief pause, he said, “just kidding folks, the APU went off line and we are going to restart it.”
Bravo for a quick thinking pilot. :)