We ended up arriving at SFO at around 9:05PM. I was a bit bummed since both of the previous flights showed as sold out, yet neither needed volunteers. I headed to the gate for my SFO-JFK redeye, and was surprised to hear the gate agent making an announcement asking for volunteers to take the EWR redeye instead. Despite having a confirmed business class seat I added my name to the volunteer list, since I’d gladly trade a transcon upgrade for a free ticket or travel credits.
I was surprised by the size of the upgrade waitlist, since there are only 72 coach seats. There were around 25 people waitlisted for business class, 11 of which were 1K’s (or at least that’s what I overheard the GA saying)! I noticed that there was only one person on the upgrade waitlist for first class, while there were three seats remaining. I figured that if I didn’t get a bump I might as well try for an upgrade to first class, since they needed to fill all the seats.
Eventually they announced they wouldn’t need volunteers, but I decided to stick around the boarding area anyway. I waited for most people to board (except for the five or so people that didn’t have seat assignments yet), and as I went up to the boarding pass scanner I asked “Are you by any chance selling upgrades for cash to first class?” The agent paused for a moment, started typing, mumbled something to his colleague about a 1K, and out comes a boarding pass for 1B! He says “Thanks for being a 1K with us.”
I was shocked, especially since at least half the passengers on this flight were 1K’s or up. While I wasn’t planning on actually paying for an upgrade to first, I figured I would give the strategy a try, and didn’t actually expect it to work.
The flight was great, although way too fast (as the Captain said, “It’ll take us a smokin’ hot 4.5 hours tonight”). The first class crowd was exactly what I expected for a Monday night redeye, and I got a few looks because I was just about the only person not wearing a suit with a tie. The guy next to me was a proud Global Service — I say proud because he made sure that I saw his boarding pass — and a surprisingly nice guy.
I had a snack after takeoff and then went straight to sleep. I remember being woken up by an announcement about half way through the flight asking if there were any doctors aboard, but I thought it was a dream, at least until we landed at JFK and the purser announced that all passengers should stay seated because paramedics would be coming aboard and going to the back of the plane. I never found out what happened, but there was a stretcher in the jetway and about three paramedics that boarded.
The best part of flying F was being able to use the International First Lounge upon landing while waiting for my connection. For the three hours I was there I only saw one other passenger, and this place is staffed with two to three people at a time — talk about a place UA could do some cost cutting!
I totally suck at my celebrity identification skills or else I’d have a story. The Global Services/Celebrity concierge answered the phone in the IFL and said something like “Ok, so she’ll be here in five minutes….. I’ll come down to meet her then.” Of course I have no clue who the heck she was, but I assume she was someone at least semi-well known. She came in wearing sweats and a sweatshirt, and sat in a chair reading magazines for about 30 minutes, before her flight to LA boarded. She was escorted to the plane by the concierge, so now I’m left wondering who she is.
Regardless, a most enjoyable experience.