Operations and dispatch from their point of view

The idea of airport and airline operations seems simple enough.  Make sure that the planes, crews, bags and passengers all know where they need to be and that they get there as close to on time as possible.  OK, maybe it doesn’t actually seem all that simple.  Still, when you learn what is actually going on behind all those “Restricted Access” doors in the airport it introduces a whole new level of respect and appreciation for just how complex it is to run a major airline’s day-to-day operations successfully.

As part of the Star Mega Do we were fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to go behind those closed doors and meet with the folks that make sure everything works the way it is supposed to at United Airlines’s O’Hare facility.  And boy did we learn a lot.

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One of the elevator rides on the tour.  Yeah, the elevators are really big.

First stop for my group was up in the air.  We climbed the 59 steps up to the tower perched above the terminal to visit with the group responsible for coordinating the movement of aircraft on the ground.  These folks manage more than just the United planes and they do a top-notch job.

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Climbing up the 59 steps to the tower (l.); Freddie, Jr. in the tower, helping with dispatch

After that we headed back down into the belly of the terminal to visit the on-site operations center as well as the crew planning and rest facilities.  We got to chat with a group of 777-200 pilots who were mapping out their route to Beijing for today’s flight along with several other folks in there.

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The crew of today’s ORD-PEK flight, working on the flight plan
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Tommy takes a moment to clean up before continuing the tour

A couple of us also stopped to speak with Jerry in the operations center.  He was excited to show us how IGAPS works for assigning gates as well as how they use it to monitor flight delays and possible misconnecting passengers.  So next time they decide to not hold a connection for you, remember that it is Jerry’s fault, not that of the gate agent you’re yelling at.  It is hard to believe that he was not willing to give us his phone number, huh?

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Jerry shows us the details of our outbound flight in Ops

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