Sunday, July 01, 2007

A bargain??

I am the kind of person who hates to spend too much money on anything. I wanted to take a trip to Alaska to visit my family. Of course, the cheapest ticket I could find was $589 round trip which was way too much. My husband has a friend who works for Delta and he got me a "buddy pass". I paid substantially less for my ticket but the catch is I have to fly standby. I have never flown standby before but figured it wouldn't be too bad because how many people are going to Alaska anyway.

My flight was scheduled to leave at 8:20 this past Tuesday morning and I arrive at the gate to find that I am number 30 on the standby list with about 20 extra seats available. WTF!!!?? Of course I get bumped from the flight and moved to the flight that leaves an hour later. My husband has his friend pull a few strings and I actually get on the next flight although there are quite a few people ahead of me. I get to my first stop and the kicker is that Delta only has two daily flights to Alaska from that location. Since I missed my connection I have to wait 8 hours for the next flight.

I wait patiently in the airport...walking around, eating like a pig ( I eat when I'm bored), updating my web sites, etc... Finally, I am able to check in and I am on the standby list again for the LAST FLIGHT to Alaska. When they finally post the stand-by priority list, I see that I am number 15 and there are like 20 available seats. That is a little too close for me so I walk up to the ticket agent, Jamie B, and proceed to tell her my plight of having been bumped from my original flight, missing my connection and thus, spending all day at the airport. I told her I just could not spend the night at the airport and I had to be on that flight. I don't know what I was expecting her to say but Jamie made it clear, without saying it, that she did not give a damn what I had been through and it was of no consequence to her whether I spent the night in the airport or not. All I got was an "it's going to be tight" and "that's the perils of the buddy pass I guess". That damned hussy better not let me see her on the street. It was all I could do not to kick her ass right there. They really wouldn't have put me on the flight if I kicked her ass. I think she sensed my hostility because even though there were 5 people behind me on the list, I was the last person to get a seat assignment.

Today is the day I am scheduled to go back home and I get to the gate and see a number of people hovering around the gate agent. This is not a good sign. Since they don't have any screens I walk up to her and ask her what my chances are of making this flight. Again, I hear "it's going to be tight". They start boarding and eventually start seating the standby passengers. At about 5 minutes to departure I accepted that I was not going to be on that flight. There were two seats left and about 10 people, not including me, at the desk fighting for them. One lady said that she had been trying to leave for the past 3 days. How can I compete with that? I'd only been at the airport 3 hours and buddy passes are always at the bottom of Delta's priority list. So, I just sat there and watched them squabble over the seats. One lady was going to send her minor children on the plane without her but the agent managed to talk some sense into her.

I call Delta to get rebooked on the next flight and they tell me it is not scheduled until 1:00 tomorrow morning. I have no idea why I am taking this all so well because I am really ready to go off on somebody. This is just ridiculous. I ask the agent if there is anyway I can get out of here earlier and he says there is a direct flight that leaves at 8:30 tonight. I ask to be booked on that one and here I sit. I arrived at the airport at 7:45 this morning. So that means I will be spending about 12 hours just sitting here with no guarantee that I will even be on the 8:30 flight. It's a good thing I have my laptop with me and the airport has free wifi. I am still bored to death and have already gone through much of the snacks I packed with 6 hours to go. I was told by a Delta employee who works at this airport that the direct flight is "never full". He also told me that this is the height of the Alaska fishing season. Based on that, how confident should I be that I will be on this flight tonight? I found myself wishing several times throughout all this that I had just went ahead and paid for a full priced ticket. Yes, the ticket was a bargain but is it really worth the hassle and uncertainty?