Thursday, March 26, 2009

Standby For Clearance

Traveling to different countries always give you a good perspective on the lives of others and how they perform their respective jobs.This was evident on a recent trip I worked to Caracas, Venezuela. Normally we call for our clearance from Air Traffic Control about 10-20 minutes before departure when we are departing a foreign country. But our flight manual has a special page for the city of Caracas. It says that we should call for our clearance up to one hour prior to departure because of anticipated delays with ATC. What does that mean? Who knows?

This day we called about 30 minutes prior and were told to "standby for clearance". OK...No problem, we'll standby.

So there we were at the gate completing our checklists while our passengers were still boarding. Sure enough, departure time came and our gate agent came up to say goodbye and then shut the entry door and there we sat awaiting our clearance.

While we sat there at the gate, we had a good view of the ramp area below the terminal. We could see what was going on, or in this case, what was not going on down below.

Just look at all of these people doing absolutely nothing!

How does any work ever get done?

All this took place over the course of the 58 minutes we waited for our clearance!

So we finally pushed back and made our way to the runway. Not a single other flight was departing or arriving! So what was the delay all about? We never did find out.

I haven't noticed this apparent apathy in any other country. Maybe it's just a Venezuelan thing. But it now makes sense why we need to call for our clearance up to one hour early....because it takes every minute of that hour to get it!

The rest of the day was was an easy one. Two legs back to base...first stop Miami. The Bahamas were looking nice this day as we neared Miami.A run through Customs, a change of planes and then on to DFW. A nice shot of a contrail over Louisiana and then a great sunset at DFW and the trip was over.Another one in the logbook.

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


TwoDogs said...

I wonder if Russian and Cuban flights to/from Chavez's Socialist Paradise have to wait an hour for a clearance. Just sayin'.

Mark Lawrence said...

That's what I was wondering - if it was just "take this and sit there - we don't care" thing. It's kind of like travelling to South Africa on Delta - we did it last year - ATL-DKR-JNB. Now, the plane is clean leaving ATL, but in Dakar, their own security has to come through the plane at 2:15am (after 8 hours from ATL and another 9 to JNB) and make every identify their hand baggage and then every passenger has to stand up while they search each individual seat. We figured it was the "You've landed in our small country - take this for messing with your flight" :) Can't wait for the new ATL-JNB non stop starting in June on a 772LR.

And - sorry Len - AA doesn't fly there - if they had a MIA-CPT-JNB - I'd be on it in a shot!!!

Brian said...

That last photo is nothing short of stunning. Well done.

Len (Barfbag) said...

Hi Two Dogs,

Yeah, we saw a Cubana flight there but I don't know if they had to wait like we did. I imagine that they got a clearance right away! Fidel & Hugo you know....

Len (Barfbag) said...

Hi Mark,

I had never heard that about Dakar....that's awful!

I kind of think the Venezuelans are just harassing us. I've been there several times these last few months and it's the same every time. And the Venezuelan carriers never have to wait for their clearances. They get them right away. Doesn't seem right!

Yeah, I wish we flew to Africa....maybe someday.


Len (Barfbag) said...

Hi Brian,

Thanks for stopping by. Yeah, every once in a while you get a lucky shot!


The Flying Pinto said...

Great pics!

Len (Barfbag) said...

Hi Pinto,

Thanks for stopping by. You have an awesome blog! I'll be checking it out often.


YellowHerbie said...

One hour to get the clearance. That's a new record. I've experienced 30 minutes of waiting, but one hour, whoaa, that's twice my record!

Mark Lawrence said...


I've started my own blog now fdor my amateur aviation photography - I know you are in our area (South Florida) a fair bit - I might have the chance to shoot one of your flights. But, please drop by my blog when you have a chance.


Postcards and Coasters said...

Funny pictures! I always wonder how some of these countries run the airlines?

Dennis said...

Great pics. I like the
Boeing 737-200. In Germany the Boeing 737-200 Series is very rare.

deandean said...

Your blog is very interesting...and the pictures, though not all taken from the Left Seat :-) are gorgeous especially the clouds and the trail of smoke at sunset. Hhhmmm..I surely would love to grab some...if you let me.