Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Another V.I.P. Movement

In a recent post I discussed how a certain VIP aboard Air Force One could foul up the entire hub and spoke operation of any given airline in a single afternoon.

To contrast that episode, I flew a trip the other night that had a different VIP in question. In fact that person would be onboard our flight.

As we sat parked at the gate in Miami watching our passengers board for the city of Port-of-Spain in Trinidad, one of our flight attendants came up and told us that the Prime Minister of Trinidad would be on board tonight. It was interesting that neither our gate agent nor our dispatcher notified us about this. You'd think that they would want the cockpit crew to know about a high profile passenger being aboard. Sometimes we're the last to know!

So then off we went with Mr Patrick Manning and his entourage aboard for the 3 1/2 hour leg to Port-of-Spain. As we pushed back from the gate, we could see only one local Miami police officer on the jetbridge waiting to make sure that we departed safely.

I've flown numerous celebrities and athletes around before and it's always curious to hear from our flight attendants how they behaved while inflight. Occasionally these passengers expect preferential treatment due to their celebrity status. And when then don't get treated as such, they can get ugly.

I'm happy to report that Mr. Manning behaved like the true gentleman that I'm sure he is.As we descended for POS, Piarco Control ATC facility handed us off to POS tower and asked us to say "hello" to the President. "Consider it done" we replied. Then after landing, the tower controller asked us to "give our regards" to the President!

Sounds like a popular President we both thought.

As we finished up our shutdown checklists and were putting the plane to bed for the night, we saw Mr Manning and his entourage heading for Customs and Immigration along with the rest of the passengers. It was as if he were just a regular guy!

We both found it a little unusual that a Prime Minister of a nation (no matter how small), would be flying aboard a commercial airliner. Perhaps that's their policy...I don't know.

It was an interesting contrast as to what must go on behind the scenes of an Air Force One mission. Our flight was just business as usual even though we were carrying a head of state onboard. An Air Force One mission must take some intricate planning and coordination. The security details must be endless.

I'll bet the food is better too!

Coincidentally, on the return leg to Miami the next day, we heard Air Force One calling in a position report on the radio. They were headed from Lima to Washington. Good thing they weren't headed for Miami again.



For a look at some more of my photos, please aviate over to Plane & Simple.

8 comments:

ProPilots said...

Len,

On final approach to runway 35 at TKI the other day I looked down to my right(I was in the right seat) and saw your house! There it was just like you said. I usually have my camera handy but not this time. Next time I'll get an aerial shot for you.

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you are at home tonight.

Darren

Len (Barfbag) said...

Hi Darren,

Yes I am home! Seniority has it's benefits sometimes.

Hope you are enjoying a nice feast with your family!

Happy Holidays to you and your family.

Len

Traveler said...

It would be interesting to see how much ca$h could be saved by flying the president of the U.S. by Commercial Aircraft.

My understanding is that it co$t$ $57,000.00/hr to fly Air Force One. http://www.commondreams.org/headlines02/0520-01.htm

flyaway said...

It would be even more interesting to see the US auto execs fly this way instead of their private jets. On that same subject, I saw a little reported news article that GM had requested that the FAA not make public the flight tracking info for their private jets.

Len (Barfbag) said...

Hi Flyaway,

Yeah, I'm sure those auto execs would be embarrassed for the public to know just exactly where and when they were using the company jets for personal trips.

Len

Len (Barfbag) said...

Hi Traveler,

I agree that it would be nice to know how much money could be saved. But we both know that it would never happen! Can you imagine a sitting president in a security line at DCA? Then waiting to board a flight to Florida with a bunch of vacationers who have tried to carry on everything but the kitchen sink! What a thought....

Len

ProPilots said...

I'm a big supporter of corporations using private jets as I fly for a corporation that has a few of them. Most private jet operators have blocked the tail numbers from flight trackers. Nothing unusual about this practice. Granted it was probably in poor taste the way the auto execs showed up asking for money while spending a ton of cash to get to the meeting. Having flown these folks all around the world I'll tell you there is no other way for them to do what they do. Multiple city meetings across the U.S. or Europe all within a small amount of time can't happen these days on a commercial airline. There would be a lot of time wasted flying commercially. They say time is money. I just hope they keep making it!

GV pilot

Len (Barfbag) said...

Hi Darren,

I agree about corporate jets being an invaluable tool for business.

I saw a good share of business being conducted back when I flew for that beer company in the early 80's. It was clearly a better way to go than the airlines.

But I also witnessed quite a bit of abuse of privilege by the company execs when it came to using the company jets. I never knew that executives had some much time available for golfing! I think that kind of abuse is what the general public tends to focus on and unfortunately for the corporations, they have to explain it to their shareholders.

You don't ever seem to hear about these things when times are good...but in tough economic times like the present, this kind of stuff always gets brought up.

Fly safe,
Len