Some gate agent fun at ORD

As I hinted at earlier in the week, I had a bit of gate agent fun at ORD this past weekend. Something tells me this post won’t be quite as exciting as my flight attendant story, but I’ll share it nonetheless. šŸ˜‰

Now I know most of the gate agents at my home airport of TPA, as I almost always take the same flight and I’m pretty sure I’m United’s most frequent flier out of TPA, but it’s rare that I get to know gate agents at any of the larger stations.

Earlier in the year, I was booked on a flight with my favorite United captain, and they ended up needing one volunteer, so as tough as it was to do, I took the bump. The funny thing was that we (FlyerTalkers and the captain) were having dinner after the flight, so I told the gate agent to let Captain Denny know that I’d still make it to dinner. I also asked if the gate agent could please give Captain Denny the chocolate I had brought along for his crew. This turned out to be quite funny on a couple of levels.

First of all, there were standbys trying to get on the flight, and they saw me all happy (since I was getting bumped) and saw me give the gate agent chocolate. Their initial reaction was that they thought I was bribing the gate agent to get me on the flight, trying to cut ahead of the other standbys, and they even accused me of that. When I explained it was quite the opposite, they chuckled and backed off. Secondly, the gate agent was absolutely mystified by the fact that I somehow knew the captain, and went so far as to quiz me on his name to make sure I wasn’t making this up.

Now at the time, I had the suspicion that this gate agent is a certain ORD gate agent that frequently posts on FlyerTalk and is known for being very “by the book” (without being too fast to pull any names out of thin air). šŸ˜‰

I remember when this gate agent bumped me he was talking about how he was going to take care of me. I tried to negotiate an upgrade, which isn’t uncommon in cases where one gets bumped, and he says “don’t worry, I’ll take care of you.” He kept rolling his eyes at me jokingly as I became needy, but in the end, we both left laughing. Of course his definition of “taking care of me ” was going exactly by the book. He pulled upgrades for the later flight and even had called inventory management to open up a lower fare bucket on the flight he was rebooking me on so that he didn’t need to rebook me in full “Y” (which would have meant a 50% elite qualifying miles bonus).

Anyway, after getting bumped on Saturday I was rebooked on a later flight. Amazingly enough, who do I see at the podium? The same guy. As he saw me approach the podium to ask if they might need volunteers, he (jokingly) told me in his condescending Bruno-meets-Filipino accent “not you again, what do you want?” Anyway, as it turned out he wasn’t actually working the flight, he was just awaiting the inbound plane, which was running late. He continued — “don’t say a word to me, I don’t want to talk to you.” I explained “but I’m only here to help. I just want to volunteer to help you guys out.”

He looked at my boarding pass, which was for 17B, a non-Economy Plus middle seat, and I asked if he might have anything better available. He said “oh yes, I have a great seat just for you,” and printed me out a boarding pass for seat 22E, a center seat in the last row. He then walked off and said he had to work another flight. Ouch!

But he redeemed himself. About 20 minutes later he came back to the gate, goes up to the podium, prints out a boarding pass for the exit row, throws it at me, and says “here, just for you this one time,” and walks away.

Can’t figure out whether he loves me or hates me…

Filed Under: Travel, United
  1. You are “Lucky” to live near such a small station. I dont really know any of the agents at SFO except Mr. Martinez does seem to kind of recognize me. BTW I think he’s the most efficient and knowledgeable GA i’ve seen in the whole system. They need to clone him!

    I dont think I would have asked the ORD guy for anything – esp since he wasnt working your flight

  2. I’ve had a GA recognize me in TPA 2 weeks ago, it was surprising to me, I do fly fairly often but I just didn’t think I’m memorable!

  3. Oh..I think he likes you……

    The only voice I imagine in my head is Edna Mode from the Incredibles – “Dahhhhling”

  4. I can’t believe he called inventory management so he wouldn’t have to rebook you in full Y.

    Nah, actually I do.

  5. Yah have to agree that he comes across as self-righteous on Flyertalk and seems that it’s true in real life…. hate to say it, but would have loved to have written an “onion” letter for him on that move, moving you back from 17-22 since they keep track of all changes and who made them.

  6. That last row middle move is complete BS and I would have been furious. And I would have let the airline know about it.

  7. Since he frequents FT, the guy knows some of the tricks that you are trying to pull, such as double bump. And since he’s so by the book, I guess he did it just to see your shocking facial expression when given the middle seat.

    I can imagine he’s probably like “YES! Take this you MR *****” in his heart while leaving you dumbfounded.

  8. I have a feeling if I was a gate agent, you’d probably drive me nuts. šŸ˜‰

    I don’t blame the GA one bit.

  9. What qualifies as a “double bump”, and how exactly is that prohibited? I had two bumps in a row a couple weeks ago (there was an overnight in between).

  10. For those that don’t have any skin in the game, this is a pretty funny story.

    What’s irritating, though, is how many people are criticising the gate agent for doing his job well – knowing the rules, being correct and efficient, and doing what was right.

  11. Here we go again thinking he is better than the rest of us and all that high and mighty stuff as quoted in his above post.

    “Now I know most of the gate agents at my home airport of TPA, as I almost always take the same flight and Iā€™m pretty sure Iā€™m Unitedā€™s most frequent flier out of TPA, but itā€™s rare that I get to know gate agents at any of the larger stations.”

  12. No question that was who you thought it was. And I’m sure he knew who you were, hence the game with 22E.

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