If you’re ever wondering why an airline goes into bankruptcy, this story might just explain it. I received a $500 voucher for being voluntarily bumped off of a plane, yet there were still seats onboard.
I was flying from San Fransisco to Dallas, and the flight was listed as over-sold well prior to departure. Being flexible on timing, and willing to take a bump, I volunteered myself in the AAdmiral’s club about 3 hours prior to boarding, which is before anyone else had a chance to list their name. At the time, I was an AAdvantage Platinum.
Fast forward to boarding time, and the flight did appear oversold by 5 people, according to the gate agent. I was number 1 on the list, and there was a couple, who was making their way to Indianapolis as slots number 2 and 3, respectively. Two other solo passengers filled up the 4th and 5th slots.
As boarding commenced, one of the gate agents confirmed the oversold nature of the plane, and began working to rebook the couple (#2 and 3), since they needed to be re-ticketed on a United flight, due to scheduling of later flights. Because their situation was the most complex, she assured me she would start on my ticket after theirs, since their re-booking was going to take some time since she needed to call United. After about 10 minutes, she was able to issue them tickets. By this point, most of the boarding process was complete, and the second gate agent began to look at the final counts. In astonishment, she noticed 2 more seats open on the aircraft. She ran down the jet-bridge, and onboard to confirm the 2 empty seats, and came back up to tell me to get on the plane.
At this point, I was a bit frustrated since I was told I would receive a $500 voucher, and the couple who was now flying on United was issued tickets prior to me. The agent who had worked with them, and now was working with me was apologetic and assured me that she’d get me my voucher. After some back and forth between her and the other agent, there was a clear disagreement of them issuing me the voucher. In the end, they let 2 standby passengers on – passengers who should have never gotten on the aircraft to begin with – and let me go on the next flight with a $500 voucher.
It was an odd turn of events, but there are several things that improved the outcome for me:
- My elite status was noted, and she didn’t want to turn away me over another passenger with no status.
- I was #1 on the list, and had been so ever since I entered the AAdmiral’s Club.
- She had made the mistake of re-booking the two other passengers first – even with their complex itinerary – she should have technically done me first.
So, I walked away with a $500 voucher, 2 meal coupons, and a confirmed First Class seat on the next flight to DFW. Apparently, it’s as easy as that to get a good discount on your next AA flight…
Has anyone else ever experienced a similar episode on an airline whereby they received a voucher, but there were still seats on the plane?
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