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  • Patricia Northrup


Getting older, I rarely sleep though the night anymore……it was about 2:20 am and I woke up, I noticed that my phone was face down but the screen was on…..huh?  Oh, American Airlines called me……..did I miss my sequence?  I am flying trips this month that sign in at 11:30 pm on the first day, take off at 12:30 am on the second day and return at 12:54 am on the third day……yet I am gone only 25 hours… is math that only the complicated airline industry could invent.  Even as a seasoned pilot, it can be very confusing as the calendar for my schedule shows it is a 3 day sequence but the trip itself on my computer schedule shows departing and arriving on one day because it tracks departures only…not sign ins and not arrivals.  Have I lost you yet?  Welcome to the world of aviation where our pilot contract rivals the IRS Tax Code in complication and length.

OK…..back to 2:20 this morning……once I realized that I had not missed my sequence, I called crew scheduling and got a chipper scheduler named Randy on the phone.  I am sure I sounded groggy…..I was…….then he said the only words that would have perked me up at that hour, “Captain Murray…interested in a Premium Sequence?”  Now you brain starts wading through that Union Contract.  I am leaving tonight on a sequence and I need 12 hours between sequences.  This must mean that get home before 11:30 am and I must not be going too far.  “Sure, what do you have?”  He explains that all his previous calls will time out at 3:18 am and then the sequence will be mine.  These schedulers have a really tough job.  They not only have to fill sequences in compliance with our contract but they also need to fill sequences so that flights depart on time with pilots up front to fly them.  So Randy had probably been making calls since midnight, lining up pilots that would be willing to take this sequence.  He will get 3 of us on the hook and hope that one of us will take it….and, who knows how many pilots after me he called that were waiting on my decision.  

I tried to go back to sleep and last I looked at the clock it was 2:46 am…… I was woken up to the phone ringing…3:18 am.  Randy let me know that I had the sequence.  Up front airport parking and a 5am sign in for a 6am departure; fly to San Diego and deadhead* home; easy peasy.

Hmmmm..back to sleep now for another hour……..thank goodness I took a shower last night.

So by the time I woke up this morning….4:15am. I had enough rest but in some interesting chunks.  But for Premium, I was rested.  I felt great. 

So much of our sense of well being has nothing to do with the actual rest we have had but instead it is a combination of rest, desire and perception of what lies ahead.  I see this so clearly in my 4 year old Shayne.

If I ask her to do anything that even closely resembles work, she is too tired, the task is too hard or the item is too heavy……a lot of too’s.

It is no different for us adults with the airline.  If the airline had called me, woken me up twice and told me I HAD to fly, I will be honest, I am not sure I would have felt as rested and ready to work as I did.

Our perception of a situation drives our mindfulness regarding how that situation will play out.  Choice is ultimately the bedrock of that perception…this morning unfolded on my terms and that actual “choice” fuels the positivity of any situation.  If we have chosen the path, I really believe that all things surrounding and stemming from said path will be good because we will MAKE it good because we “chose” it.

I guess the bottom line is twofold.  The airline will never be able to do to me what I can do to myself choice or not.……that reality demands that I have self discipline and make sure that I am physically and mentally ready to take on what I volunteer for.  Second, when the airline is forcing me to do something I don’t want to, I think the 4 year old in me may come out.  Is it that I am actually physically tired or did the fact that I was not in control of my destiny fatiguing me??   I am not sure I will ever truly know.  

What I do know is that I was back in time to watch the Pink Popsicles win their 11am soccer game and as far as my girls were concerned, I was never even gone.  It was a good choice!

*deadhead: When an airline pays to reposition a pilot by flying them in the back of the airplane like a customer.

LAX, 6:00 AM looking east.

1 Comment

Nov 25, 2019

Thank you for a glimpse into the adventures of being a pilot...luv and admire ya Miss Patty ❤️

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