I watched the sun rise from my hotel room in Boston this morning, something which was decidedly not in my travel plans as I headed to the Montreal airport yesterday afternoon.
It was not even really in my travel plans when I got to the counter in Montreal to show my passport to the agent to complete the docs check process. But it just so happened that while I was standing there another agent mentioned that the flight I was booked on was oversold by as many as seven passengers and they needed volunteers. I will always at least ask about the situation when a bump opportunity arises and I did this time as well. Alas, it is spring break in Montreal and getting another seat out to New York last night was impossible. The offer was an $800 voucher but I needed to be home and so I passed, mentioning that if things were absolutely dire I would reconsider.
Thirty minutes later as the boarding process began things were looking dire. I was sitting close enough that I could hear the conversations from the gate agents and they were faced with still needing one volunteer or needing to IDB one passenger. Unfortunately, based on the hierarchy for that flight, the one was a 6 year old kid in a family of four. And that’s a complete mess for everyone involved. Of course the company won’t abandon the kid but it means multiple people getting bumped rather than just one. And, while not ideal, I could fix that problem a lot easier than anyone else.
I should also note that I still wasn’t sure about getting home to New York at a reasonable time. Fortunately I have friends who are spectacular enablers. In this case it was Fozz who came through with the suggestion of an Air Canada flight to Boston connecting on the Delta Shuttle in the morning. The agent was more than happy to book me on those flights and coordinate a hotel in Boston for me. And I was perhaps not happy to take the bump, but at least OK with the decision. And the voucher value was upped to $1000 at some point during the scrum, so that’s a pretty nice bit of consolation, too.
As all the standby passengers cleared the Gate Agent ended up with two empty seats to give the kids. They were exit row seats. Watching that get reassigned last minute was amusing; basically just shouting in to the crowd “Who wants an exit row??” and taking the first two who made it to the counter. But, overall, a very good performance from the Delta team at the gate; they earned a note of thanks from me last night.
My takeaways from the events:
- If you do your own research odds are there is another option the gate agents didn’t see
- Be nice to the gate agents and to others traveling who might not have as much flexibility as you do; karma matters
- Don’t freak out when you get an alert that the flight you weren’t rebooked on is delayed. Turns out the agent protected me on two flights this morning and the later one is delayed but I’m not flying on it. That was a minor panic of an extra three hour delay. Oopsie.
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