On Friday, while posting about the lady with bad Red Carpet Club etiquette (perhaps you could at least use a headset if you’re going to yell at your laptop telling your parents you want a banjo), I also mentioned I scored a $400 bump. I figured I should finish off that story.
I was supposed to attend an 8PM dinner near San Francisco Airport, and was flying from Los Angeles to San Francisco. I was booked on the 4:30PM flight, which was grossly oversold. There were 16 people on the “confirmed awaiting seats” list, and as far as I could tell they needed at least five volunteers. The gate agent bumped me immediately and rebooked me on the 8:30PM flight. Now, if I actually took that flight I would have missed dinner, but there was also a 6:00PM flight and a 6:45PM flight that I could stand by for, and as a 1K on a (now) full “Y” ticket, my chances of getting standby on at least one of the flights was nearly guaranteed. The 6:45PM looked especially good for standby, since it was only oversold by six (which on a 757 at United isn’t a whole lot) and I would be at the very top of the list. That would get me to San Francisco at 8:10PM, just a few minutes late for dinner, which I’m sure everyone would understand for a $400 bump.
As expected, I don’t make standby for the 6:00PM flight, though I do clear the 6:45PM flight, and am even given the best seat in coach, 8D. I boarded and all was well, until halfway through boarding, when the captain announced a problem with an indicator light. At first he made it sound very minor, but when he said we were on “decision” until 7:30PM, I knew it was much more serious. I literally haven’t had a single mechanical delay this entire year, so of course it’s gotta happen on this flight when I have a commitment immediately upon landing.
By around 7:45PM it was clear we weren’t going anywhere anytime soon. The gate agent came aboard and said that anyone that wanted to deplane and get on an alternate flight could do so. I mentioned to him that I was a standby on this flight and asked if I was still confirmed on the 8:30PM flight I was originally bumped to. He said as long as I’m added back to the flight at least 30 minutes before departure, absolutely. I was concerned this flight would be canceled, so at that point decided I’d be better off on the 8:30PM, which looked to be a sure thing.
I go to the gate agent and he loads me back on the 8:30PM flight, though my seat assignment was gone. Actually, there wasn’t a single seat on the plane, so I was given a departure management card. I was confirmed on the flight but awaiting a seat assignment. I get to the gate and funny enough, the gate agent is the same one that bumped me off the 4:30PM flight. She looks at me and says “we’re over, I doubt we’ll have a seat for you…. wanna bump again?”
Now this is the part where I was either making a really smart or really dumb decision. I basically already missed dinner, but I had a strategy, so stay with me here. “Sure,” I said. The last flight of the night was sold out, so she rebooked me on a 6AM flight in first class, and gave me meal and hotel vouchers. I asked if she could still put me on standby for the 10:30PM flight, which she agreed to do, despite saying that “it’s not looking good.”
My strategy was slightly different than that, though. With vouchers in hand, I headed straight back to the gate of the delayed 6:45PM flight I had originally cleared standby on. They managed to find a new plane for the flight, and the new departure time was right around 9PM, just 30 minutes after that 8:30PM flight. I go up to the very overworked gate agent and asked if it might be possible to get standby on this flight.
She responds with “we have room… what flight were you originally booked on?” I respond with “well, it’s a long story, but originally the 4:30PM.” She gives me a confused glare, so I tell her the whole story: “well, originally the 4:30PM, from which I got bumped, then I cleared standby on the flight to San Francisco, then I was confirmed onto the 8:30PM flight, though they didn’t have a seat for me, then they confirmed me on tomorrow morning’s 6AM flight, and now I’d like to get back on this one.”
With quite possibly the most confused look I’ve ever received from anyone, she said “uhhh, I’m just gonna get you on this flight.”
And sure enough, the plane left shortly after 9PM, and I made it to San Francisco by around 10:30PM, only a little more than 30 minutes after the flight I bumped off of.
So I got a bit of heat on my last post (ironically from people that weren’t attending the dinner, so I’m not sure why those people care), though let me break it down. Did I bump from a flight when I had a dinner planned? Yes, but I bumped in such a way that I would be arriving at dinner 15-20 minutes late. I think just about anyone would have done that. Did I then have the first mechanical of the year, which was entirely unforseen? Yep, guilty as charged.
Either way, it was great to see lots of you this weekend, and I quite enjoyed the flight from San Francisco to Chicago yesterday, thanks to all of you, Captain Denny, and the amazing purser (who announced on the PA that he could be identified by the floral arrangement on his lapel).