My commute to work each day includes a 10-minute train ride between Frankfurt’s central railway station and the airport. Usually it’s a dull affair–thankfully my iPhone keeps me occupied–but my ride home this evening was a little more interesting.
I boarded and saw a guy wearing a UA ground staff necktie (male FAs have dark blue ties, pilots have striped blue and yellow ties, and ground staff wear 90’s looking ties with the UA tulip in red) and a UA windbreaker with current issue pilot wings on it. He was also carrying a pilot’s bag (black leather, squared, crew tags on it, UA stickers all over it.
Now I was confused. What was he? A pilot, a FA, or ground staff? I knew it would be a bit awkward to just walk up to him and start a conversation, so I held off for a few minutes. My opportunity arose when we pulled up to Niederrad Station and a crowd of people rushed on. I ended up standing right next to the guy and soon struck up a conversation.
He was a FRA-based 777 First Officer whose trip to Dulles had been scrubbed due to poor weather in Washington. He thought I worked for United when I asked him about his tie (according to him, UA pilots can where those ties too) but didn’t appear surprised when I told him I was just a 1K. We talked about various things, including upcoming contract negotiations, the CO merger, the fire in Gander which has disrupted air traffic across the pond today, and his former job as a TWA intra-Europe 727 pilot.
I had no idea TWA had a rather extensive European network based in Frankfurt, as my first and only trip on TWA was in 2001 just weeks after AA’s acquired it . "That was a good airline, " he stated, referring to TWA. Sadly (or happily depending on your outlook), I’m too young to remember.