Saturday, April 19, 2014

Farewell and Bonjour!

no fog great view flying out of San Francisco SFO
Flying out of SFO - a pretty cool sight when there's no fog!
Our flight to Paris was overbooked, as United Airline flights are notoriously known for.  When we checked in online, we selected that we'd be willing to volunteer our seats if necessary.  We were somewhat flexible with our schedule and open to a delay, depending on the terms and compensation.  At the airport counter when we checked our bags, we asked further about it and the staff didn't know anything but said the gate counter would probably make an announcement if seats were needed.  While waiting at the gate, we saw a list of standby passengers, but no announcements were ever made.  We figured they didn't need volunteers or there must have been people who volunteered before us so we proceeded to board the plane.

After we settled into our seats, a United representative walked down the aisle looking for two volunteers to give up their seats, offering 1 night free accommodations and a $200 travel voucher per person.  As we considered whether it was worth the trouble, one person had already volunteered.  Ten minutes later, the United rep comes around again looking for one more volunteer.  It was a hard sell for all of us eager to get to Paris.  He raised his offer to a $300 travel voucher and the promise of a better seat - still no response.  Then he offered a $400 travel voucher.  This was getting interesting!  I felt my heart rate increase as we raised our hands and asked if he would take two volunteers at that offer.  He gave us an unsure look, asked through his radio, and signaled that he'd get back to us.  A few minutes later he came up our aisle and asked if we had checked in baggage (we did) and told us he needed someone without checked bags.  Oh well, I guess we were back on track to go to Paris that day, which is not such a bad thing either.  It was quite a rush those few minutes as we considered something spontaneous and plan-altering!

Anyway, our flight ended up being delayed 2.5 hours with all the passengers sitting on the plane, waiting for a crew member issue.  During those hours I wish we had taken the first offer to give up our seats.  But it wasn't all too miserable.  After the first 1.5 hours, the crew gave us emergency snacks (Biscoff cookies).  When we finally made it off the ground they offered free beer and wine with our in-flight meal.  Even more, they sent an email for passengers to claim extra bonus miles or a $100 e-certificate as a customer appreciation.  Plus, it's hard to be upset when you're on your way to Paris, late or not.

Plane view french countryside france
Hello France! You're so green!
A few lessons learned that day:

  1. If you know your flight is overbooked and you want a chance to volunteer your seat, don't check in luggage.
  2. Flying out of SFO in the daytime when there's no fog is not only rare, but also a beautiful sight.
Have you ever volunteered your seat on an overbooked flight?  What kind of compensation did you get?

1 comment:

  1. Hehe I can just imagine you two sitting there, debating on what to do :]]