It has been a week since Cross the Pond Eastbound 2020 took place on VATSIM. The bi-annual event is by far the most popular and most talked-about even in the VATSIM calendar and this year brought a handful of changes to how the system worked. Whilst Serge did a good job expressing how he felt about the changes (in particular to the lottery system), I wanted to reflect on the event itself and offer some further thoughts on what future events could bring.
This Year’s Event
Let me start by coming clean; I flew without a slot. I know, I know, the communication was clear that those who wanted to fly online during the Saturday should avoid the Atlantic, but I was prepared to be placed on a non-event track, have huge delays and be at the bottom of the queue for any push back slots. I had nothing better to do on a rainy Saturday afternoon after all.
Loading up at Chicago at 10:30z, the airfield was somewhat quiet with planes slowly spawning in and controllers coming online. Flying from one of the busiest airports on the network was bound to create some delays and issues, but the whole process was nice and smooth. All of the controllers did an amazing job at keeping their cool whilst dealing with requests and even the handling of some issues with slot times. So whilst I sat on the ground, I requested a slot and was initially told 11:44z I would be able to leave. Perfect, I thought, and get ready to leave 15 minutes beforehand to ensure I would take off as close to the slot as possible. For whatever reason, the slot time wasn’t then passed on to the ramp controller and subsequently, I then had to wait until 13:15z before I was cleared to take off to Heathrow.