Ah, and as expected, the mileage run had some exciting twists and turns. As I was boarding my TPA-ORD flight in the morning I was shocked to hear they needed one volunteer, since the flight was wide open the night before (or so it seemed). I ran up in excitement, and my favorite agent at TPA just asked me to wait to see if all passengers actually show up. She then commented to me “well, I guess there’s no need to do red carpet boarding today,” and started with seating area one.
As I wait there for 25 minutes I observe just about every reason I admire what GA’s do. The GA was yelled at by several standby passengers for not getting on the flight, but as usual the agent handled it with grace. As the door was about to close the agent informed me that my seat wouldn’t be needed, but I paid her a compliment for her grace under pressure and proceeded aboard.
I was surprised to find overhead bin space available right above my seat, and sat down in 11D. I immediately recognized one of the FA’s, who I’ve flown with many times from TPA to IAD. She’s always professional and smiling, so it was nice to see her again. No Channel 9 on this flight, but other than that it passed pretty quickly.
I had about an hour layover at ORD, during which I visited the new RCC. I posted about my experience in a separate post.
The ORD to SEA flight was also quite uneventful. We had a 30 minute mechanical delay, but ultimately make it to SEA near on time thanks to a faster than normal flight. I sat next to a very nice guy who went so far as to introduce himself to me before the flight, which I found pretty cool/funny. This is where the standard, boring part of the mileage run ends.
I get to SEA and immediately head to the dungeon, errr, RCC. I talked to the very nice agent there for a while and headed to my gate in time for boarding. Once aboard (this was the same plane as the one I just came in on from ORD, by the way), the captain announced a mechanical delay, but said it would only take a few minutes. I started talking to my seatmate, who I could immediately tell was interesting. As it turns out he’s a Global Service Million Miler and makes my flying look like nothing, so we had a lot of things to discuss, from the newly configured UA planes, to the criteria for Global Services, to UA as a whole. I even explained to him why I was hoping this flight would get cancelled, and he chuckled at the concept of what I was doing.
As the mechanical was announced the gentlemen in row two was going bonkers. He started hitting his newspaper, panting, and ultimately acted like a complete jerk. After a little over an hour they informed us that a part was being flown in from Portland and that it would take at least an hour, so we were able to deplane.
I headed to the RCC to protect myself on the later flight, since I know exactly what happened the last time I was in the same situation. Last time was in SAN, where the first flight had a mechanical and ultimately got cancelled. I then got rebooked on the next flight out, which was only an hour later, and stupidly enough UA transferred too many people to the new flight, making it a total bumpfest (although I can understand why it happens, since you have a dozen agents working on the same flight under time pressure). I was hoping the same would happen in this case. The RCC agent and I were joking around and she even protected me SEA-SFO-IAD-TPA (in full Y, no less), which means I’d ultimately get more EQM’s. While I was originally flying SEA-SFO-DEN-IAD-TPA, I knew I would misconnect in DEN and it hardly adds any miles anyway.
A few seconds later I was paged in the RCC, and the same agent said they wanted me at the gate for the DEN flight. I went up there, and they offered to put me on that flight in F. I explained I was already protected on the SFO-IAD redeye and preferred it since it was longer, and the agent said “Mr. Lucky, we just wanted to give the option as a 1K, you can certainly stay on that flight.” I thought it was very professional of them to be so proactive.
I went to the food court to grab a bite to eat (and found my new love, yogurt parfait), and shortly thereafter headed back to the gate. As it turns out they brought the right part from PDX, but it didn’t do the trick, so they were flying in something else. At this point I headed back to the RCC, where the agent printed me a boarding pass for the later flight I was confirmed on. While I couldn’t get F, I really didn’t care, since I was expecting a bumpfest. Also, she put me in 23B for SEA-SFO and 30B SFO-IAD, which scared the heck out of me!
Nothing cracked me up more than the elderly couple in front of me that were talking to the agent in the RCC about being rebooked. The husband, who was probably in his upper seventies, said “Yes you can rebook me, but I want first class. I booked full fare first on that flight, and think it’s fair that I get the same on the other flight.” The agent was genuinely sympathetic (as I would be for a full fare passenger), but after another few minutes said “Sir, you upgraded with 500 milers.” His response was classic: “Oh, did I? I forgot how I booked that flight, I could have sworn it was full fare.” Gotta love it!
I headed to the gate of the new flight and boarded since they hadn’t asked for volunteers. I was among the first aboard, and shortly thereafter my former seatmate (the GS) comes past my seat and says “you know, they’re asking for volunteers.” I literally grabbed my stuff and sprinted off the plane towards the counter, and the agent confirmed they still needed volunteers. I waited patiently as the agents processed other passengers, and was appalled by how rude some of the other passengers were. There was a supervisor there that was beyond amazing. She got yelled at over and over, yet exemplified the definition of professionalism.
Eventually the supervisor realized that she actually asked for too many volunteers, but since we all really wanted to volunteer she just said “OK, let’s just dispatch this flight and put them all on the next one.” When she started working on my voucher and ticket I thanked her profusely and complimented them all on their amazing job. I handed out a few Starbucks gift cards for their exemplary service, and they were extremely thankful.
So since the other flight was only 45 minutes later I decided to accept the free ticket, which I figured was the best deal. I headed back to the RCC to talk to the awesome agent, who had in the meantime (without me asking), found better seats for the whole journey. When I got into the RCC she said “Ohhh boy, what are you doing here, get home, we don’t want to see you again,” jokingly of course since I had been in there a dozen times. We talked for a few more minutes, she confirmed everything was booked correctly, and I headed to the gate for my next flight.
On this flight I got an empty middle seat and had a great seatmate in the aisle. She was once again shocked by the fact that some people fly for miles (although I’d like to think not in a bad way), and we spoke for nearly the whole flight, which made it fly by (pun intended).
At SFO I headed to the departure gate, and my name was paged since I was already on the volunteer list. The agent was looking at options for rerouting me, and we ultimately decided on a 6AM flight the next morning through IAD. The one agent asked the other whether or not I should be offloaded already, and the other said “nope, we’re not negative yet.” As it turns out they didn’t need volunteers, but I did get the upgrade.
The crew on this flight was exceedingly odd. While I slept most of the flight, we had one of the most bizzare (not necessarily in a bad way) pursers I’ve ever had. He didn’t have “wings” and wore a bowtie. He constantly referred to our flight as “the trip across the continent,” as if we were digging deep into uncharted territories. When talking about the safety video he said “I have a very exciting two minute video I’d like to show you, which I’m sure you’ll find interesting.” That’s only the beginning, but at first I didn’t think he was really an FA.
I slept from takeoff till touchdown, and headed to the RCC upon landing. I opened up my email inbox and found an email from Pam Coslet proactively apologizing for the delay and saying that 5,000 miles will be deposited into my account, which was the icing on the cake.
Within an hour the flight to TPA was boarding, so I headed to the gate. Once again we had a very strange purser. Her announcements were very strange, and I could never tell whether she was trying to be funny or not. For example, “for those of you wondering where Ted got his name, well, it’s the end of UniTED.” She was very professional otherwise, but had some odd announcements.
One of the FA’s was totally amazing. I’ve never seen an FA that’s able to smile and say “welcome aboard” with such enthusiasm for a good 20 minutes. She was truly top notch.
We got into TPA only a few minutes late, and I was happy to be home again.
Sorry for making this so long, but it was a bit more eventful than my usual runs, so I figured I’d share for anyone interested.