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Stormy Weather

bstevens
New Arrival
Recently a line of bad weather moved through the central part of the country.  As a Southwest Airlines Customer Service Agent in Nashville, Bert offers us a unique perspective of those storms.  Wednesday, October 17: A large weather system is moving through the Great Plains and working its way towards Tennessee.  The first rain is predicted after midnight with heavy storms tomorrow evening. Looks like tomorrow night will be interesting.  And yes, the rain started after midnight, just as I left work. Thursday, October 18, 13:00: I'm still at home since my work day doesn't start until 5:00 p.m.  My weather radio just alarmed.  All of Middle Tennessee is under a tornado watch.  Yeah, tonight will be interesting. 16:00: Kiss my wife, Carol, bye and head to work.  She says, "see you sometime tomorrow."  She knows I could be in for a long night. 17:00: Arrived at work to start my day.  Checked the FIMs (flight information messages sent by Dispatch at Headquarters).  Only 96 of them so far.  Not too bad. Advisory messages for SEA (Seattle) due to high winds and STL (St. Louis), IND (Indianapolis), and MDW (Chicago Midway) due to thunderstorms and ATC (air traffic control) reroutes.  Radar shows storms growing in West Tennessee.  So far, we look good. 17:50: Operations just announced Flight #266 to MDW is ground stopped due to weather at MDW.  Update at 6:15 p.m. 18:30: The 6:15 update extended the ground stop in MDW until 7:15.  Two Customers have decided to not travel, and our Ramp Agents are looking for their bags to send to Baggage Service.  Customer Service Supervisor, Scottie, just radioed to advise the Ramp Crew for Flight #266 that Customers to PIT (Pittsburgh) may not make their connection.  The Ramp Crew is going to set those bags aside just in case. 20:45:  The 7:15 update on MDW had Flight #266 delayed until 8:15 p.m.  At 8:15, it was delayed again until 8:45 and was finally released at 8:45.  In the meantime, several PIT and LAX (Los Angeles) Customers decided to reschedule and bags were sent to the Baggage Service Office to be claimed. 21:00: Dinner break.  Local TV breaks in with Tornado warnings for Kentucky counties just across the state line.  Estimates have the storm arriving in Nashville between 11:00 p.m. and midnight. 23:00: The storm front is here.  Flight #723 from MCI (Kansas City) attempts to land and decides to go around.  24:00: Flight #723 finally got on the ground just after midnight.  One Customer tells me, "I'm a seasoned flyer and that was rough." She goes on to tell me the worst part was going back up through the cloud layer after the Pilot decided not to land the first time. Flight #94 from MDW was scheduled to arrive at 22:40.  It left the gate at 22:59 and finally got off the ground at 23:53.  It should land at 01:00. October 19, 01:00: The MDW flight is on final. It's still raining, but the worst of the storm has passed the airport. 01:30: Quitting time. I've seen worse nights.  But, like everyone else, I'm glad this night is over. 
7 Comments
Another_Mark
Explorer A
Bert, Thanks so much for the interesting information. It gives us passengers a good sense of some of the issues that CSA's contend with during a work day and evening. This post is one of the reasons that this blog is a must read everyday. We learn the inner workings of SWA and meet some of the people that make it work so well. Oh, go Colts on Sunday..
Leah4
Frequent Flyer B
Thanks for another interesting post, Bert! I do LUV storms, but I LUV flying SWA even more! What's the latest you've stayed at work due to severe weather? SWA LUV! 🙂
bstevens
New Arrival
Mark - Here in Music City, we are Titans fans. So, GO TITANS!!! Leah - The latest I've ever stayed was 5:00 a.m. Once the morning crew arrives, I head home. That night, Florida was covered in storms and lots of folks decided not to fly, but their bags did. We had so many unclaimed bags that they wouldn't all fit in our office. So, we sorted them by city in front of the office and "bag sat" all night. I hope we don't see that again anytime soon.
Leah4
Frequent Flyer B
Oh, wow! One of my friends, who's a CSS, once had stayed until the A.M. crew arrived. I don't remember why. I'd be exhausted! SWA LUV! :) Thought for the day: Was the person who came up with the Kit Kat a man named Kit who had a Kat (cat)?
Leah4
Frequent Flyer B
I didn't think to add this earlier, Bert, but where do employees/Customers take shelter when at your airport when there's a tornado warning? Do you announce "Code Black?" Snap, Crackle, Pop! :) M & M's melt in your mouth, not in your hand!
bstevens
New Arrival
Leah - Thanks for your questions. Sorry to take a few days to get back to you. They let me take a day or two off sometimes. Emergencies are conveyed to the Public by Airport Operations. Airport Authority procedures in the past dictated that the Public was cared for by the Airport and Employees by the Airline. That all changed a few years ago when a fire alarm sounded. Employees went outside on the ramp in the 'Secure ID Area(SIDA)' as we are supposed to. But, instead of evacuating the terminal by exiting security, Customer followed us outside. As you can imagine, it was a mess. Since then, any emergency has us caring for Customers also. For fire alarms, we all go outside using the nearest exit point and then to pre set meeting areas. For weather issues, we go to restrooms or stair wells, depending on our location.
Leah4
Frequent Flyer B
Oh, that's okay, Bert! You deserve a day or two off. Thanks for the answer! :) SWA is So Wonderfully Awesome! 🙂