Friday, November 16, 2007

Heading North

With all the news these days about air traffic control and weather delays, yesterday would end up being a good example of just those issues.

The day's trip was from DFW to LGA (New York La Guardia) and then on to MSP (Minneapolis - St Paul). New York was having problems with low ceilings and wind. To begin with, LGA is very limited in that whenever there is too much wind, all the arrivals and departures have to use the same runway. It is a very small airport and the runways are extra short. Yesterday they were having that very problem and the Air Traffic Control system was backed up.

We were carrying some mail to New York. It gets loaded in small boxes and then put in the cargo compartments along with your luggage.

The leg from DFW to LGA was delayed by two hours. ATC (Air Traffic Control) imposed what we call a "wheels up" time for our flight and every other flight going to New York from all other parts of the country. The idea is to sequence all the flights so as not to have to make them do any airborne holding. It's much less expensive for an airline to hold a flight at it's departure city rather than to have it holding in the air. Much less fuel is consumed that way.

We pushed back from the gate about an hour late and had to spend the other hour parked in between runways at DFW while awaiting our clearance to takeoff from ATC. It gave a us a good view of one of the arrival runways and I had the opportunity to get some photos.

The flight to LGA went well except for some further enroute delays by ATC. With about one hour remaining in the flight, they slowed us down considerably and we even had to do some brief holding. Then during the descent we encountered some very significant turbulence and had to slow down even more. But by the time we made the approach and landing, the weather was pretty good. New York was clear by then and the arrival over New York harbor at night was quite a sight.

The photo you see below is of the control tower at LGA. Kind of an art-deco look to it. During March they light it up with green lights for St Patrick's Day.

LGA was busy as usual but the ground crew quickly got us unloaded and then loaded up again for Minnesota and away we went again. The routing took us up over northwestern New York state, then over Toronto, northern Michigan, Green Bay and then finally a smooth descent over a clear St Paul and then the landing in Minneapolis. Our flight attendants were scheduled for a very short layover (8 hours), and our hotel van was nowhere in sight so I called a couple of taxis to take us to our hotel. $18 for a 2 mile ride per taxi!! The hotel paid for it though. Time to go to bed now...

Thanks for reading.


Teller said...

I love watching your de-rated takeoffs at LGA, using up every last inch of those runways; I always have to stop and watch just to make sure you rotate in time!

Len (Barfbag) said...

You should have seen it when we operated DC-10's in and out of there. Made your butt pucker just to watch.....Len