And Then Our Reservation Disappeared…

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Sunday was quite the adventure for testing out United’s ranking system for 1Ks and all the possible problems of traveling with someone who doesn’t have the same status. Our flight back from Anchorage was delayed by over an hour, which made us miss our connection in Denver.

delayed flightsApparently we weren’t the only ones missing connections and the soonest they could rebook us was for a flight 4 1/2 hours later. Jeanne & I were on the same reservation and though my United 1K status didn’t get us upgrades, it did put us at the front of the queue for rebooking.

But we’d just come in on a red eye and had a crazy work week ahead of us. Getting back to DC at 6  PM wasn’t ideal. So we decided to do standby on the earlier flights, which is when it got interesting. (Actually it got interesting right when we landed and realized the other was “out of it” :))

PHX United LoungeWe headed straight to the United Club where there was no wait. The agent there explored various options. I would be top of the list for the 10:30AM flight and *might* clear instantly, which would leave Jeanne 6th in the queue and probably stuck on the original flight getting in 3 hours later.

I was her ride, which meant I’d be hanging out at Dulles for 3 hours and there was no point.

However, if I cleared instantly, the the agent offered to force a seat on a flight to DCA for Jeanne. That way I could pick up my car and Jeanne would have the option of public transit or a cheap cab to get home. That would have been lonely for both of us, but perfect. Sadly, I was not instantly awarded a seat 🙁

So we headed down to the gate to wait. I made a little bit of a pleasant nuisance of myself though, making sure several times the agents knew that I couldn’t be separated from my traveling companion, even though I knew that meant I might not get on. We almost got seats but at the last minute it fell through.

So we were figuring out where we were going to go for a bite to eat when we heard the announcement that all standbys had been transferred to the list for the 11:15 flight.

Wait what!? That flight would be boarding now, they didn’t know I didn’t want to be separated from Jeanne and I might have already cleared, which would mean I’d lose my seat on the 12:30 flight. Since so many people were trying to get home, even giving up a seat for a minute meant you could lose it permanently.

So I hustled Jeanne over to the new gate immediately to discover that I had already cleared. They couldn’t clear Jeanne and she was 5th in line after they’d already cleared 4 people, so we decided to forgo standby and stick to the 12:33 flight. I was really anxious that my seat on the later flight had already been given away, but the gate agent was able to restore it and check us in.

We grabbed lunch and then headed back to the gate. I was idly keeping an eye on the upgrade list (I was 3rd) before boarding just in case. We attempted to board when group 1 was called and was told our told our reservation wasn’t recognized. What!? I looked at the upgrade list and my name was gone completely!

In sheer panic we head over to the desk and explain the situation, even that I’d given up standby on the earlier flight so we can sit together. Our seats are gone. Our whole reservation was gone. It just disappeared!

Apparently we weren’t the first this had happened to that day and the agent was frantically trying to make it right for us. She got us back on the flight, but in two middle seats, one in the last row of the plane. Nooooooooooooo!

She did find a middle seat in the exit row rather than the last row of the plane, but it still wasn’t good. She was apologizing profusely, checking other planes leaving soon, and finally told us we should board and she would get on the plane and move us if anything better came up.

We thanked her sadly and headed back to the almost empty queue for boarding. The woman taking tickets was the same one who had handled our earlier standby situation and she couldn’t believe what had happened. She stopped, pulled up the seat map and asked where we had been sitting before. She then told us to follow her onto the plane, moving the man who had been given my original window seat to the middle exit row instead.

I’d never heard of anyone doing that and I couldn’t help but be incredibly grateful!! It shouldn’t seem like a big deal, but after being in transit for over 12 hours on a red eye, not having to rub elbows with two complete strangers meant alot.

Unfortunately the status disparity with me & Jeanne isn’t going away until the merger happens since she’s a US Airways Chairman and I’m sticking with American Airlines. But I guess it will help us learn the ins and outs of status rankings.

Have you ever had a gate agent go out of their way to help you?


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Heels First’s Travel Advice–Sophisticated Travel, Uncomplicated Advice. The travels and tribulations of two frequent flyers jumping into the world of travel, sharing their travel advice. Join Keri and Jeanne as they tackle mileage runs, elite status, and of course–the perfect travel accessories.

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