Halim Airport, Jakarta, Monday 6-12-95, 0300 local (Z+7)
I went to bed thinking that I would operate to Jeddah, deadhead back, and then ride with most everyone else out of here. I got to our temporary office in the hotel at 0100 and found out everything had changed. Now I'm deadheading to Jeddah and then operating back, which means I have work at the end of a 23 hour and 30 minute duty day. Also, I'll be flying with an Iranian captain. The last time I was with an Iranian captain I had trouble understanding him and the controllers. This is a different Iranian so maybe I'll be able to understand him better, and on the last leg I was doing tolerably well with the controllers.
I'm scheduled to get back here the morning of the 13th, get minimum rest, and then operate, ferrying one of the airplanes to Singapore for maintenance. After a short overnight at Singapore, I'm scheduled to commercial Singapore to Jakarta to Honolulu to Los Angeles - killer day, 23 hours 40 minutes duty time. I'll hit Los Angeles too late on the evening of the 14th to do anything but go to the hotel. On the 15th I'm scheduled to go LAX to JFK. However, I'm hoping they'll release me in Los Angeles and I'll jumpseat home.
At the moment, I'm sitting in the upper deck waiting for them to get moving. Maybe I'll be able to get some food then. I last ate on the airplane on my last leg. Sleep seemed more important that food when I found out I was going back to Jeddah, so I slept all day. Oh, yes, there was the stale candy bar I got out of the hotel room.
Hmmm, just got word via a purser that MEA (Middle East Airlines) just broke down - they've got one airplane here - and we're picking up the trip. Does that mean that instead of ferrying to Singapore I'll operate back to Jeddah again? Nothing stays the same in this business. Okay, whatever, for the moment the task is to rest as much as possible Jakarta to Jeddah and do as good a job as possible Jeddah to Jakarta. I'm already looking forward to being back in bed at the hotel. At some point, of course, this thing will end, and I will get home.
Bye for now. I think they're loading the catering; I'm going to go try to get some food.
over Oman, Monday 6-12-95 0700 local (Z+4)
Believe it or not, I actually seem to have slept well in this first class seat on the upper deck. Am I regaining an ability that I seemed to have lost with age, that of being able to sleep anyplace? I sure hope so. It would be most helpful in this job.
I strolled around downstairs. It's really strange to see all those empty seats and - on this leg - not even any flight attendants down there. The flight attendants that will be working the trip are waiting in Jeddah as is the captain. If things had worked as they should the first officer and flight engineer would be also. However, what happened is that when that crew arrived in Jeddah, they believed they would be deadheading back on the last flight out of Jeddah. Since most crew members don't like to spend one second more than they have to in Saudi Arabia, the first officer and flight engineer elected to forego sleeping in the Sheraton at Jeddah. The captain, being a middle east type himself, apparently doesn't harbor the intense dislike for Saudi most of us have, and he elected to sleep at the hotel. So, because the f.o. and f.e. didn't want to surrender their passports one more time, I and the engineer with me are going to have a brutal day. I can't really fault the crew members who elected not to stay; I would have done the same. Words cannot express my contempt for Saudi society and the deep-down anger I feel while I'm there.
This airplane's downstairs seating is interesting. It's all coach, standard configuration for Tower, but I counted seats from 4 different airlines. The aircraft itself is an old Virgin Atlantic airplane. All of what was the old coach has the original seats (with Virgin embroidered on them - wonder what that makes people think?). What was the business and first class sections have been replaced with coach, and with seats from 3 different airlines, none of them Virgin (but at least they don't have the airline's name on them). I had thought Tower also put the upper deck into a coach configuration, but I'm finding that most of the upper decks still retain the original first class seats. That's typically only 12 seats and by going to coach in the upper deck, you only pick up 4 more seats.
Oh, yes, I found some food. I hope to make that and one meal during the return trip my total intake for the day. I've got to stay below 170.