• Steven

It's too early for this..




It's 04:00 in the morning and I wake up by the sound of my phone.

What? Where? Who am I? Oh yes I remember, I'm on an early standby today, so the airline can call me up to work if they need a captain. Still half asleep I answer the phone. "Hi, we're calling you in to operate flights". They mention some times and flights, I don't know.. I'm still half asleep. Right, before we do anything else it is time for a shower and some coffee.




Showered and suited up in the uniform I arrive, mug in hand, at my desk and take a look at my iPad, time to check what they have lined up for me today. hmmm so, 4 flights today, every single one of them full.. "great".. (obviously that's a good thing, but at the same time, the embarking and disembarking takes quite a bit longer. And with the scheduled time on the ground being quite tight at times, it can cause delays).


"Oh, a note added to the plane registration. hmmm, something is broken on it."

Written in some sort of code and language that makes it pretty hard to figure out what is actually broken. Not a big deal though, it's something minor and usually the systems are backed up by 2 or 3 extra ones, so usually there is a grace period for things to get fixed and it's ok to fly around with slight issues. - Either way, I'll ask the engineer later what he has to say on it.


What's next? "oh! an email from the airline". hmmm... warning about strong winds and storms over the United Kingdom and Ireland. "But.... but... I'm flying there today.. Can't the storm wait another day? I mean come on.. it's early.. I'm supposed to be sleeping during my standby."

I look down at my mug... empty... "I'll need another coffee before dealing with this any further."


A quick stop at the coffeemaker and back at it. Fine, let's have a look at that weather and wind. Rain, cold and winds with gusts up to 52 knots (about 100km/h - 60mph). Oh dear, that can get a bit "sporty" and bumpy. At least that will only be a problem for the 3rd and 4th flight, so.. let's not worry about that one yet! First time to go to Spain.. "oh"... it's raining there too... of course it is..


Would you look at the time! Time to hop in the car and head to work. Arriving there, a quick run through the metal detectors and security. Where, without fail, they usually end up with a strange look on their faces when they see my bag go through the x-ray. All the camera equipment doesn't help. - Sure, have another look inside like you do most days.

Anyway, that over and done with, time to head to our crewroom. (It's where we start our day, meet up with the crew of the day, do our briefing, print any paperwork and flight plans that we need for the day, etc) I look around, where is the co-pilot for today? hmmm I guess he's not here yet.. so I'll print some of the things then.


Arriving at the computer, I try to login to the system. It doesn't work... some issue where the computer can't reach the main server.. "Fine, we'll try computer number 2!" That one thankfully works and I get into the systems. Time to find my flight plans for today.. "mmm.. strange.. only 3 of the flights are showing.. where is the one of my first flight.."

A phone call to the head office later, and we're back in business, or at least, we should be.

- "Oh we'll send the flight plan to the system and it will be in there in about 5 minutes"


*8 minutes later*...... still nothing....


Finally, 10 minutes in, it pops up! time to start printing these bad boys! *Click*.

Nothing happens.. "What is wrong now?" Some quick detective work, that would make Sherlock jealous, and the culprit turns out to be... the paper! Obviously someone would use the printer, use up all the paper and obviously they don't bother to refill the paper. That would be an act of madness of course, so who could blame them.

Feeding the printer it's "food" and soon after it pukes out all the print jobs that were lined up on the computer before mine.. "Ah, I guess not everyone has the Sherlock skills to figure out the mystery of the missing paper". So here I am, canceling about 4 other print-jobs and not long after my flight plans finally come out of the printer.


Slowly the other crew members start flowing in, including the co pilot.

We run through the paperwork and decide on the amount of fuel that we would like to take with us on the flight and it's time to brief the cabin crew on the day.

"wait?.. 1...2...3.. there are supposed to be 4? the reporting time was 5 minutes ago" Followed by 3 heads shaking "no" as they also have no idea. Right.. I'm not in the mood for this and the patience is long gone. A quick phone call to the head office results in a new cabin crew being assigned to the flight. Thankfully, usually there is one extra cabin crew member on a standby at the airport.


A quick briefing for the crew later and we head to the airplane to start the day.


Let's do this.