I’ve been a pretty loyal United Airlines customer for some time. I don’t fly as often as I once did, but I’ve amassed enough frequent flyer miles to give me a couple free trips to different countries. But I never seemed to use them, and I’m not sure why. Maybe I was hoping to have enough miles to journey to the moon. After all since PanAm went belly-up a few years ago, I think I’ve been under the misconception that United would take over the Earth to Moon schedule that looked so fun in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Well with my Eurotrip a definite, I scanned some inexpensive carriers and found that I’d pay about the same price, give or take a hundred bucks, to fly United. And I’d get the frequent flyer miles. So I decided to trade some in and upgrade to Business Class. Hey, I was going on vacation, why not do it right. Right? Uh…not so fast.
After I upgraded (at 60,000 miles) I discovered that had I upgraded for a FREE business class ticket, it would have only cost me 20,000 miles more. Of course, Award Travel (as they call it) is at the discretion of the carrier. So even though I may have wanted to travel on a Thursday and return a week and a half later on a Wednesday, it would be up to United to see if they had available seats. They didn’t. Of course if I wanted to depart on Thursday, and return two days later, they would be able to accommodate me….Thanks, but no thanks.
While my ticket was confirmed, my upgrade was not. I was “waitlisted.” So basically, I would get the upgrade if seats were available. Yep, you’re already ahead of me aren’t you?
I arrived at the airport to discover that my upgrade from California to DC wasn’t approved. So I would be flying coach….in a middle seat.
The flight was about as fun as … well, as sitting in the middle seat of a cross-country flight.
Upon arrival at Washington, I was told, along with others waiting for the flight to London, that the plane was broke. And the woman at the gate leaned against the counter, very relaxed, as if this is something that has happened more than a few times and said, and I promise you I’m not making this up.
“We basically have two of these planes, and they’re both broke. So we’re taking the not broken part from the plane over there, and switching it with the broken part of the plane over here.” I looked at her thunderstruck “And hopefully that will work. But I should tell you if it doesn’t, then you’re probably not getting out of here until sometime tomorrow.”
I tried to ask if she was kidding but words wouldn’t come out of my mouth. And apparently I wasn’t the only one as I turned to see about fifteen people, mouths agape, just staring dumbfounded.
“I just want to be up front with you guys so that everyone doesn’t start screaming when they can’t fly out tonight.” She continued, “oh, good news for you” directly to me, “your upgrade has been approved.”
Of course it had.