I was checking my flights Friday night and came across a Flyertalk thread about a group of fellow enthusiasts meeting in Chicago for a tour of the United facilities and flying on to San Francisco with Captain Flanigan the best United ambassador in the sky.
I hooked up by email with Ben from the One Mile at a Time Blog and indicated I would try to join them in Chicago for the tour and flight. I had to go, as I was flying SAV-ORD-SFO-SAN on a mileage run any way. What was another three hours in Chicago?
My first flight to ORD was fine as is, but I needed to get the later flight out of ORD and still catch the last flight to SAN. The key to my success was going to be the staff at the Savannah airport.
Small market staffs are great as they remember your face and it doesn’t hurt to bring them a cup of coffee every now and then. They work hard and can make your flying experience much more enjoyable.
I was greeted with a smile and my flights were changed without question and my CR1 upgrades transferred to the new flights. Status pays, and I realize that there were really no upgrades available, as other members of the FT group were on the upgrade wait list in front of me. But the power of a gate agent is awesome and they can override the system at will.
I was now in Seat 1A first class from ORD to SFO and then on to SAN.
I met up with 10 Flyertalk members in the RCC lounge on the C concourse and the balance of the group showed up from Richmond at about 3 PM. We were met by customer service reps that took us into the bowels of terminal C and the real workings of a major US airline.
At last count there were 36 of us divided into groups of 5 for tours of the ramp tower, flight operations and baggage. Every United employee I met was extremely pleasant and truly seemed glad to have us and show off their operation.
The three hours flew by with visiting with employees and fellow Flyertalk members. We were fed and pampered and truly treated like royalty.
Captain Flanigan had the flight number designation changed to Flyertalk One which showed at the gate and was used by all air traffic control centers as we crossed the USA. It was interesting listening to the chatter between the controllers when the call sign Flyertalk One was used instead of the typical flight number Flight 153.
Our crowd from Flyertalk was younger than me for the most part, but there were about 5 of us in our 50’s+. Age has no bearing when like minded souls get together.
If you get a chance to meet the gang from the web and get a behind the scenes tour, by all means go for it. There are plenty of opportunities throughout the year.
And don’t forget, Ben and I are speakers in July in Ann Arbor. It will and educational experience for all of us.f
Monday Noon Update
My one day trip is turning into a marathon as my flights back east were cancelled last night. The 1K line was so backed up I was on hold for 20 minutes before they could get to me.
My earliest routing back to SAV is tonight at 11PM to ORD-CLT and then SAV on Scareways. That is a full 24 hour delay.
The Red Carpet Club in SFO offered me a free room at the Red roof inn which I declined. United was so nice to us in Chicago, I just couldn’t see having them put me up for a weather related issue. A quick SPG search has me in the Sheraton Gateway hotel at 4K SPG points til 4 PM late checkout (status benefit) then off to the RCC club again to wait for my redeye.
The Chinese place I always eat at in SFO is way down the hall at the International terminal. It is a long trek. Last night I realized the one outside the Red Carpet Club in the United terminal is the same company. Duh Pay attention Rick
Wish me luck getting home. I hope the weather out east has cleared some.
And if you get a chance and have a spare spiritual thought available, my son Aaron auditions with Julliard today for grad school. All positive thoughts appreciated. Think 6’7″ good lookin’ kid with a killer operatic bass voice.
A proud Dad