Advanced People Watching

Recently I had occasion to spend about six hours waiting for an airplane that was about six hours late.  Pilots will generally spend as little time around large groups of inconvenienced passengers as possible. There was no shortage of these so we made the hike down to Ops to hide and hang out.  

 All airlines have at least a small, if not large, Operations (Ops for short) office somewhere under something and always in an obscure location.  It seems that there is some sort of natural burrowing behaviour airlines demonstrate when renting office space.

In the 1950s there would have been lots of guys drinking coffee from paper cups and chain smoking. At least one Teletype machine would be clacking away, producing  reams of continuous yellow paper covered with obscure text and runes describing the weather and operations messages.

Messages would read something like: ALL DWN TX STH .. ..###U.M.C. ##NR## PAX MXCNT. .PLZ PG..ADVZ###.. .. This would mean ” Attention all stations downline from Texas and Southeast: An unaccompanied minor child passenger travelling on a non-revenue pass has missed his connection. Please Page the airport terminal and find this kid, advise if you find him!”

Things have changed a little in the fifty five years I have been around these places. Ops now is a non smoking environment, and the teletype machines are gone. I’d like to have one though, especially if it still worked. Now there are computers everywhere and few people.

Television monitors show the gate areas and most of the terminal in great zoomupable detail.

Some words to the wise.. Do not ever think that you can pick your nose at the airport and not have someone see you do it.

Ladies, If you need a more comfortable bra then get one or something.  Guys, stop adjusting your parts in public. 

There are cameras everywhere. The resolution is amazing. They rotate, zoom, highlight …… and more.

It is easy to read the name on a boarding pass at the ticket counter, or the title of a book someone is reading.

My personal favourite was watching people while they watch people. Guys pretend to look at something else to watch a girl after she walks by, girls pretending to look at something else when a guy walks by.  And various combinations.

There was a mouse (or baby rat) in a corner. It showed up several times on the video.

Ops is an interesting place for pilots for about seven minutes. This is about how long it takes to read all the non-pilot stuff on the bulletin boards and a few Dilbert or Far Side cartoons. The remaining five hours and fifty three minutes wouldn’t have been nearly so much fun without the video camera.

You guys are great.

Happy Landings


2 Responses to “Advanced People Watching”

  1. I was on a flight from Cleveland to Phoenix last weekend. When we got to Phoenix, after the announcement to shut the windows and open the A/C vents, a large amount of what looked like foggy air started pouring in from by the windows and the overhead luggage compartments. I haven’t seen this before and or since. We were flying in an Airbus (didn’t catch the model) operated by US Airways.

  2. luckyjet1 Says:

    This is from the really cold air in the system condensing moisture …. this is the same process that causes rain and is a by-product of the really cold air. Like rain, cold air is always welcome in Arizona.

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