Standby shenanigans


Booking the trip up to Maine for work this weekend there were not a whole lot of affordable options for flights home. The only thing that was at all reasonable was the 7pm flight back down to JFK. Not a huge deal, as we planned on doing some work on Saturday anyways. Well the work on Friday went really well and the delicious dinner (along with the couple bottles of wine) pretty much meant we weren’t working on Saturday. With nothing left to do – and miserable weather in Portland – it was time to try for the earlier flight home.

First step: Check the websites. The airline wasn’t selling seats and the inventory check suggested there was nothing available. Probably not a good sign.

Second step: Call the airline. On the phone the agent was a bit more optimistic, though in retrospect she was probably just more ignorant. She insisted that there were seats available and that there was a decent chance of making it on the early flight.

Third step: Ask at the counter. The agents put us on the list (after a bit of consulting with the guide for the correct commands) and then informed us that there was almost no chance of it actually working out. The flight was full and they didn’t expect that we’d clear.

They were correct.

So we didn’t get the early flight home. Not too big a deal as we found a bar to hang out at and pass the time. But the way in which we didn’t make the flight was a bit strange. As they were wrapping up boarding the agents were looking at their computers and only showed 99 passengers boarded. That should have meant one empty seat on the plane. But two different agents walked down the jetway to confirm that every seat was occupied. Who was the mystery woman in 21A? Finally one of the gate agents found the missing boarding pass so they closed the plane door and sent the folks on to New York City.

But they still couldn’t find that passenger on the flight manifest. They searched and searched and eventually one of them figured it out. The passenger was actually booked on the same flight we were, the later flight. She managed to get on the plane with that boarding pass and fly on the earlier flight without anyone noticing that it was the wrong flight until it was too late. Whoopsie.

I’m not all that upset about it in the end. There was only one seat and two of us. Plus, the beers as the Sea Dog Brewing Company bar just outside the airport were pretty delicious. But there were definitely shenanigans at play, preventing the upgrade list from being processed correctly. That’s never a good thing.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
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