Anyone ever tried to buy a round of drinks for an entire airplane? I did today and the logistics were surprisingly complicated. Maybe that’s because no one ever does this sort of thing. Or because it is ridiculous. But that mostly just describes me so I gave it a go.
American Express offers a $200 credit to platinum charge cardholders to offset the various fees airlines will hit you with these days. The catch is that it can only be used against one airline and once you choose the carrier you’re stuck with that choice for the whole year. Most of my flying is on airlines where I have status and I rarely check a bag, even when I don’t have status. Plus I get upgraded a fair amount so food and booze are often part of the deal. Nearly a year into the program’s existence I haven’t figured out a scenario where I could reasonably spend that $200.
Sitting a lunch with a friend in Anchorage I decided that today would be the day. I was going to commit my $200 in "fees" credit to Alaska Airlines and get my money’s worth. It is my first flight ever on Alaska and probably my last for the year so committing to spending the $200 on my own is too tall a task. But with a little help it shouldn’t be much of an issue. After all, it is a flight to Honolulu and folks should mostly be pretty happy about that, right? A free drink should make it even better.
After stowing my bag in the overhead bin I made my way back to the galley to explain my plan to the flight attendants.
Me: Hi there! I’ve got a strange situation here. I want to buy drinks. A lot of them.
Me: I want to buy the first round for the whole plane. That’s probably 40-50 drinks, right?
OK, so the quotes aren’t entirely verbatim, but the confusion expressed by the FAs was pretty close. We spent the next 10 minutes chatting about my scheme and trying to figure out the best way to handle the logistics. One option was for her to run the card 30+ times and have me hand the receipts to the lucky drinkers. We threw that one out pretty quickly as way too much work. Eventually we agreed that they’d just do a normal beverage service but rather than charge everyone they would just tally the total drinks consumed and I’d pay the bill at the end of the service.
Because the offer was only revealed after the drink was ordered the initial damage was actually rather limited. We didn’t quite get to the $200 threshold on the first pass. This, of course, raised another issue of trying to figure out how to spend the rest of the credit on board. I made a sign, figuring I’d walk through the cabin offering up the drinks that way.
Ultimately, however, that seemed less friendly. So I just started asking folks if they wanted a drink. I’m wearing a Hawaiian shirt that is similar in color to that of the flight attendants so A few people confused me for that; I even had one ask how to fill out the agricultural declaration form. But once I explained that I’m just a guy buying drinks for anyone who wanted one I did manage to get a few takers. Pretty soon my sales efforts were rewarded and the $200 credit (and a few dollars more) was over. I was willing to keep going (a bit) but the third beverage service is about to start and that means free mai tais for everyone!
I had entirely too much fun on this flight. I don’t know why but flights to Hawaii make me want to have more fun than most. Also, a special thanks to the crew from Alaska Airlines who were willing to help me out on this ridiculous bit of entertainment.
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