Damn it. I forgot my own bump advice and it cost me big yesterday.
My itinerary was Traverse City to Chicago to San Francisco to Denver and then reverse. I had checked my flights a day or so earlier and nothing looked promising although I remember reminding myself the Chicago to San Francisco flight had some potential for a bump.
I had my boarding passes in hand when I arrived at the Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City. The United counter had about 8 people in line, but no one in the First Class or Elite line. Mistake #1. Why was I sheepish about walking up to the elite line and asking to volunteer for all my segments? It was a dumb move on my part.
The flight to Chicago went out close to full. (I had asked at the gate). Mistake #2. Why didn’t I ask about my later segments? This time, it never even crossed my mind.
We got to Chicago and pulled into gate F2 early and I deplaned at 7:10 AM, missed the next shuttle to the C gates and hoofed it over taking 8 to 10 minutes. I went immediately to the gate agent and offered to volunteer. Her response was she had all the volunteers she needed. I was stunned. I blew it.
In a move of desperation, I asked if the policy was not to accommodate elite flyers that volunteer first. Her reply was curt and I was informed that she takes the volunteers in order when she asked for them a few minutes ago. I looked up at the board and the monitor showed that at that time 179 of 182 had checked in. A few minutes later the board posted that both economy and first class had checked in full and we were still 20+ minutes to boarding.
I sheepishly asked the other gate agent to put me on the list anyway and to add me to the volunteer list for SFO to Denver, but I knew I had blown my chance. If I had gone to the ticket counter at TVC or the gate at TVC and volunteered I’d be braggin’ about another $400 voucher in my pocket instead of singing this sad old song.
In the true character of “me”, I justified the mistake by convincing myself that I had to be at my 4:30 appointment in Denver. The justification is extremely hollow though. My mistakes never allowed me the opportunity to negotiate another routing as a volunteer. I’ll never know if I could have got the voucher and still made my appointment.
Live and Learn.