It's Easter weekend and we are at the height of the spring travel season--and I'm loving it!
This morning I show up at the gate for my Philadelphia-Los Angeles flight and lo behold, Captain Denny Flanagan is there doing his spiel! "Hi folks. Just want to let you know that's this is my first time flying... <laughter>...today."
Captain Denny truly is the real deal and during a time in which I am feeling a bit low about disarray at the new Continental (er, United), it is always encouraging to see someone like him. When he saw me at the podium, he walked right up to me, shook my hand, and said, "It's great to see you Matt!" He never forgets a face.
As you recall, I was a bit worried about the upgrade on my 6hr flight to Los Angeles, but at the gate first class remained booked only 10/24. Finally, just before boarding began, one of the gate agents began processing upgrades and I was #1 on the list.
But the gate agents were also soliciting volunteers. Now that's a hard choice. First, the compensation was only $250, compared to the standard $400 at the old United. Second, I had a great first class seat on a flight with Captain Denny. But I ultimately took the bump.
I talked the agent up to $300 (FYI, they can enter any amount on their screen) and a $10 meal voucher and sealed the dealing by re-routing via Washington Dulles, including a three-cabin first class flight this evening from Dulles to Los Angeles, booked into full F.
Captain Denny stands by the door of the aircraft and greets each person as s/he board--a wonderful touch. When boarding finally concluded and he didn't see me, he walked back up to the gate area to check on where I was! I explained to him to that there were a lot of angry passengers waiting for seats and that I had decided to give up my seat for one of them. He told me about an upcoming auction on Flyertalk which I'll blog about in the coming days, shook my hand, and wished me a good day. Captain Denny should be the face of United Airlines. It is always a pleasure to interact with him.
Kudos to the gate agents as well. I know my Philadelphia PMUA folks and they handled the oversold flight quite well. Rather than showing frustration or rudely turning away passengers, they dealt with a constant stream of customers coming up asking about seat assignments, upgrades, and other questions. Yesterday the oversell situation was much worse, I was told by one of the gate agents.
Now I've got the day ahead of me--hopefully I'll be productive. I plan to get as much law school work and award bookings done as possible, such that I can take a little breather tomorrow and Sunday.