Sitting at gate 3. I tried to include my approach plates with the terminal as the background.
Ten minutes prior to push back a "J" class (business class passenger) did not board. This was a "through" flight and for some reason they did not return. ("J" passengers should know better) Oh great, we will have to "sequence" their checked baggage. Translation - a 15 minute delay. Finally, the passenger shows up wondering what all the fuss is about. But wait a minute, the "Ramp lead" appears in the flight deck. He is in a predicament. There is a pallet of live "chicks" destined for the "Rock." He called load and realized they can be boarded but he must juggle the baggage containers. "Chicks" are very temperature sensitive and they can travel on certain planes. We are going to take the delay. Note: Most Air Canada employees want to do a great job (contrary to what the media portrays sometimes) and the "lead" was one of them.
***One of my enRoute questions may include why we use "J" to denote business class. If anyone out there finds a reference to the origin of "J" please send it my way. For the like of me, I can't find it. ****
"Looks like KFC and Swiss Chalet will be getting new supplies."
"We can never have enough 'chicks' in Newfoundland."
"Don't count your chickens before they hatch."
These are not mine, but the passengers.
It was good to take off with everything working. (Remember, I'm fresh out of the simulator) However, we did get a caution light stating one of the air conditioning packs had a regulator fault. The F/O puts it on nicely on runway 29 with a good crosswind.
I take it back to the "big smoke." We are running about 20 minutes late and everyone wants to know about their connecting flights. It's around 10 P.M so if they don't make it, they will be waiting until tomorrow.
During deplaning while I'm saying good bye a "UM" (Unaccompanied Minor) asked to approach the captain. She is about nine or ten and she hands me a folded five dollar bill and a Loonie. It was a tip My first ever! Okay, I'm doing the math, that's three extra large Tim Hortons coffees. Sweet! Kidding everyone, we pilots aren't that bad! lol Really! It was difficult to hand it back to her as she would not take it. Finally I said, "I make tons of money" (I fibbed) with a HUGE smile and she reluctantly took it back. The first time for that in my aviation career.
Now we are off to CYHZ (Halifax, Nova Scotia). We notice a visibility as low as 1/4 mile in fog may be greeting us on arrival. This last flight was filled to the rafters with a few "cons" begging for the jumpseat. The only glitch, we were weight limited because our alternate - Quebec city - (Nadia you might have seen an A320 there at 3:00 a.m) required lots of fuel so our landing weight in Halifax was at maximum. Finally, it turns out we can take one in the "jump"... a main line flight attendant. She is married to a pilot I know plus she bought and loved my book. She trumped a Jazz pilot.
The landing would require me to land. Policy states any approach below 2600 feet (1/2 mile) will be done by the "demi-god." It was the F/O's leg so I offered him the take off and during cruise I would take over. He agreed. I give the briefing for a Category II (decision height one hundred feet on the radio altimeter) to an autoland.
It worked out well. While setting the park brake I made an announcement stating the landing was done by the airplane called an "autoland." It was 2:00 a.m in the morning and the awe factor lacked with the passengers. My real estate lawyer, for the many transactions for a pilot on the move back and forth to Halifax was on board. He appreciated the info.
After a long day, ending with an autoland down to minimums, we wanted to get to the hotel. But there was a glitch. No cab. After numerous calls, one finally arrives an hour later. Rated as "the best airport in North America" there are no cabs at the airport during the wee hours. Our prearranged cab obviously had other arrangements. I get to my room at 4:00 a.m.
The life of an airline pilot.