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A less-than-friendly visit from US Airways

| Saturday, March 30, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

We're dreading the next visit from Uncle US Airways.

Not because he refuses to take off his shoes when he enters the house and muddies the living room carpet, although we're not fond of that. It's because he can't be trusted.

Uncle Airways used to be a beloved family member. His visits were eagerly anticipated because he always made us feel as though we were the hub of his existence.

Now? Not so much.

He stopped over last week with his longtime girlfriend, American Airlines, “We're finally getting hitched!” he announced. “We found a nice place to live in Dallas, and I love this doll so much I'm going to take her name.”

Our congratulations were sincere, although we silently questioned how Uncle Airways was going to afford his new bride, whom we've always considered to be a champagne tastes, beer budget kind of woman. Little did we know how quickly we would have an answer.

Less than an hour later, we walked past the family room and saw Uncle Airways stuffing jobs from our flight operations center into the overcoat he hadn't removed when he arrived. The explanation he offered, that he was cold and always found our region drafty, was disingenuous not because Western Pennsylvania is sufficiently insulated, but because his overcoat pockets were bulging with what appeared to be all 600 of our operations center jobs.

His obvious intent to furnish their new place in Dallas with our occupational knickknacks confirmed our worst suspicions about his trustworthiness.

You see, years ago, Uncle Airways stopped by to see the improvements we made to the concourses at the international airport we have in the backyard by the tool shed. We believed he was interested because we built the airport at his suggestion, after he convinced us it would increase the value of our region much more than an updated kitchen.

He arrived in the middle of a Steelers game, and insisted we didn't have to accompany him outside. He was out there a long time, and when he finished inspecting the concourses, he stopped inside only briefly to say goodbye. The next morning, we discovered the airport unlocked and wide open, the majority of its airplanes missing.

Uncle Airways insisted he left the airport locked and blamed the theft on teens playing a prank. Now, after last week's visit, we knew better. The “prank” that had left us practically plane-less had been committed by our avuncular airline that shortly thereafter, coincidentally, expanded operations in Charlotte and Philadelphia.

As we eyed the jobs in his overcoat at the operations center, we moved just out of his sight line, coughed loudly and heard the sound of objects frantically being replaced on the shelves. When we entered the room seconds later, Uncle Airways smiled nervously.

“Just admiring this fine- looking flight operations center,” he said.

It's disheartening that we caught him trying to leave the center even emptier than he left the airport. How to prevent him from taking those jobs during a subsequent visit?

Next time he calls wanting to come over, we'll tell him we're about to leave for the mall.

Eric Heyl is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7857 or eheyl@tribweb.com.

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