Every trip to the airport is an adventure for me. I get to see and experience different people, different cities, and watch the whole airline culture. A recent trip to New York was a simple one, but as always, things can change almost instantly.
I flew from my local Hilton Head Island airport on our only carrier (US Airways) to Charlotte and then on to LaGaurdia in New York . I love my local airport because it’s located only 10 minutes away and with… believe it or not… 6 to 8 flights per day to the Charlotte hub. Security is simple and flying the prop Dash 8 is not all that bad on the one hour flight.
My Charlotte connection time was sufficient to get from the remote regional and prop plane concourse (concourse E) to concourse C and onto my next flight to LGA. I was on an award ticket at 20K (thanks to the US Airways credit card) reducing the miles required to only 20K. The flight was full except for two first class seats. I was amazed that the agents offered those two upgrades for $79 each. Katybug tells me to pamper myself and I could justify the expense as my ticket was free. My question is:
What about all those guys and gals with elite status on US Airways? How come they didn’t get the upgrade?
I find it hard to believe there weren’t two lowly Silver members that wouldn’t have loved that upgrade. Some of them even buy the Elite status… and it is not cheap. A “nobody” bought the upgrade for $79. That’s sure gotta rub the Airways elites the wrong way!
I stayed at the Westin Grand Central Station, a new property at a rate of $149. It seemed like a great rate for New York… even on a weekend. There, I was upgraded to a large corner room and offered a comp continental breakfast or points. I took the points!
After spending Saturday with Brian, ThePointsGuy, to work on the speakers, sponsors, and schedule for the upcoming Chicago Seminars, I was headed home early Sunday morning. My scheduled flight was at 11:24 AM, but I was put on the standby list for the 10 AM departure without charge. I have Star Alliance Gold status with United and Turkish. (The agent told me that is why the change was free. I don’t know for sure.) but would not have paid to change my flight had a fee been required.
In Charlotte, the departures board showed two earlier flights to Hilton Head before my ticketed 4:05 PM departure. The first was at 12:52. The US Airways gate agent moved me to the 12:52 flight again without fee and I offered to buy her coffee or a soft drink on my quick trip to the food court. Its always nice to be nice.
We heard an announcement for a 15 minute maintenance delay which didn’t put me off in the least. I was still way ahead of schedule. My cell phone then rang and it was US Airways Alerts telling me my flight had been cancelled. With small capacity props planes I knew that getting on the next flight was going to be tough and as I turned to the gate agent (even before she made the new cancellation announcement) she had my new seat assignment on the next flight printed and handed it to me before the others were even aware of the cancellation. That meant a lot to me! That was customer service at its finest!! My offer of a soft drink and my Star Gold status clearly paid off this time. I love when cool stuff like that happens.
Not twenty minutes after arriving at my new departure gate, the agents started looking for volunteers. Seems they somehow had overbooked the next flight by three and seemed desperate to find volunteers. I, of course, was ready to take the bump and approached the agent asking about compensation and what flight I would be confirmed on. The offer was $200 and a 4+ hour delay or depart at the same time and fly into Savannah instead of Hilton Head and find my own way to the island. I balked at the offer as cab fare is close to $100 with tip from SAV to my car on the island and $200 is not enough for a 4+ hour delay. After several conversations with both agents, they convinced me that the computer handled compensation exclusively and the offer would not be upped under any conditions. They only got one volunteer and the offer was never upped.
Just prior to departure one of the agents asked me if I’d be interested in the cash compensation and I said “sure”. We went to another computer and my cash offer was calculated based on my airfare paid. The amount I was offered was $8.32 as I was on the award ticket. I’m assuming that was the amount I would be offered if involuntarily bumped. She was disappointed that was the offer amount as she knew she was still stuck with two over. And the story ended that way… with two people being kicked off the flight involuntarily?? I told her all they had to do was up my compensation to cover the cost of my cab fare and I would have volunteered. Funny how the game has changed to supposedly save a buck!
New rules, but still it is all about the people. The people of US Airways treated me great. My question for you is:
Have you ever been offered lower than $8.32 to be bumped off a flight?