My overnight ‘ride-along’ last week with United Airlines at Denver International Airport was exhausting – but exhilarating and extremely educational.
I’m working on a full-length slide show (so far, I’ve got 60 photo keepers) and report for my next At the Airport column on USA TODAY, but sharing a few snaps today here on StuckatTheAirport.com to get the ball rolling.
At around 10 pm, my tour started at United’s Station Operations Center – a darkened room where about 50 people were seated in clusters at desks with multiple computer screens doing everything from making sure passengers made their connections to monitoring weather and gate assignments.
Then it was off to the maintenance hangar, where 8 airplanes were undergoing service checks and repairs, included an engine swap for an Airbus 319.
While in the hangar, another airplane was visited by a fast-moving cleaning crew, who were doing everything from cleaning the lavs and galley (with different rags and cleaning solutions) to making sure seat back literature was refreshed and the tray tables were washed.
At 3 am it was back to the Station Operations Center, which was pretty much empty, except for Zone Controller Mike Lowrey, who I’d met earlier in the evening. He was checking with maintenance to see if all the planes they’d been working on overnight were ready for morning flights and doing what he could to make sure the first flights of the day would leave on time.
3:47 a.m. : A quick look in the concourse to see if anything was happening. Nothing. Yet.
The Flight Operations Center opens at 6 a.m. That where captains and first officers such as Michael Daigneault can pick up supplies and plan for their flights.
My flight back to Seattle left, on time, at 8:08 a.m. I even got a set of plastic wings from the crew.
My full report on my overnight ride-along with United Airlines at Denver International Airport will show up during the week on USA TODAY.