While some people avoid winter flying as much as possible, I find winter and summer to be the best times to mileage run. Summer is great because of high loads which lead to bump opportunities, while winter has lower loads but unpredictable operations, which lead to cancellations and delays, which also lead to bump opportunities.
Coming into this weekend I was looking forward to finally trying the reconfigured 767 as well as an uneventful mileage run, along with a few laughs due to the shirts I was wearing. What I got was much, much more, despite the reconfigured 767 being swapped out for an old one.
A lot of these stories would be funny in person but would probably come off as lame here, so I’ll stick to the highlights:
— While waiting for our flight from Richmond to Chicago, six TSA agents (with gloves!), a police officer, and a supervisor, surround the gate. They approached a lady and surrounded her, and after a few minutes of arguing the police officer went to the gate agent and said “she won’t be flying today.” I have no clue what happened, but it was interesting.
— The Chicago to San Francisco flight got swapped out from the new configuration to the old one. As if that wasn’t bad enough, this 767 was in the worst shape I’ve ever seen. Nearly half of the seats had serious problems. The seat in front of mine wouldn’t stay up, my legrest and TV monitor were broken, my seatmate’s legrest was broken, and that’s only the beginning. It was truly disgusting, and it’s scary to think that some people actually paid full fare for this product on the previous flight from Europe.
— My friend Gray scored a $600 bump from an earlier SFO to JFK flight and managed to get on the redeye I was on. Let’s just say the “Glenn’s Gotta Go” shirt paid off on this flight…. I’ll leave it at that. The purser was fantastic.
— The real fun started in New York. The earlier flight from JFK to IAD was cancelled two days earlier, so this flight was zeroed out and there were a lot of passengers that were never informed of the cancellation. There were tons of infuriated passengers. Not only that, but the plane was weight restricted down to 45, which made the situation worse. One passenger explained the weight restriction: “Yep, this makes sense, I flew the same plane last week and the brakes were broken, so I guess they want the plane to be light so it can land and stop before it crashes off the runway.” I was the only passenger that volunteered, and the agent had to take six IDB’s.
People just wouldn’t stop cussing at the gate agent, making foul comments, saying how much United sucks, etc. I just stood there smiling at the gate agent, telling her to take her time, and that I was in no rush. She wanted to process my VDB first since I was a 1K, and I just kept commenting on how professional of a job she was doing handling the situation, how bad I felt for her, how rude the other passengers were, etc. I asked if I could do travel credits instead of a free ticket, and after calling a supervisor she agreed. She rebooked me on the Delta flight nonstop from JFK to TPA, which got me in two hours later. While I wasn’t necessarily opposed to that since I thought I still had a shot at an upgrade on Delta, I would have only gotten $200 in travel credits (which she stated as the amount).
I decided to see if she could route me through ORD and get me a cab over to LGA, as an obvious attempt to increase my travel credits to $400. She said “Are you crazy, you really want to go through Chicago and get home at 8PM tonight???” I mentioned how United was so good at taking care of their customers and it’s the only airline I choose to fly, and she chuckled and agreed. I also mentioned that I wanted to save United money by staying on their planes as opposed to flying Delta. She once again said “OK, so $200 in travel credits is fine?” I said “Well, my delay is about five hours, so isn’t that $400 in travel credits?” Her reaction was priceless. She couldn’t stop laughing and said “wow, you’re smart, you got me, you obviously know this game much better than I do. I’m impressed.” She wasn’t the slightest bit offended and we both left laughing. I said “thank you,” she said “thank you,” I said “no, thank you,” and then she said “Sir, we could go back and forth all day, but thank you.” I love her.
— United paid for my transfer to LGA (via limo no less), and I got there, had lunch, and went through security. The TSA pisses me off, although I’m sure that’s not much of a surprise to anyone. 2/3 of the agents were standing around doing nothing (literally standing in another area talking, playing with their phones, etc.), but yell over to the passengers that they should hurry up. In the meantime no agent was removing the containers from the belt. Let’s just say I had a little word with one of LGA’s finest TSA agents….
— The LGA to ORD crew loved the shirts, and the captain even came out to comment on it. As luck would have it he lives in Florida and I sat next to him on ORD to TPA. That made for a fun flight with some interesting stories.
— As I was walking through the concourse at ORD I got tons of comments on my shirt from crewmembers, and even more laughs.
Overall it was a great weekend filled with nearly 10,000 EQM’s, $400 in vouchers, and a skykit or two. Fun times!