Last month, I posted about two girls being refused a seat on the plane due to what they were wearing. being dragged off a plane for refusing to give up his seat. Today I present a story of a family cashing in for giving up their seat….. cashing in big time.
On Friday morning, I was flying from New York City to Florida with my husband and daughter. The bad weather had passed, so I thought we had escaped the wrath.
After hours of delays, Delta Airlines started offering money for volunteers to give up their tickets on our overbooked flight, which had 60 (sixty!) standby passengers hoping to get a seat. I didn’t flinch. My husband and daughter and I were headed to Fort Lauderdale to see our relatives, and — as far as I was concerned — nothing would hold us back.
When the compensation for volunteers got to $900 a ticket in gift cards (American Express, Target, Macy’s and so on), my husband convinced me to consider the offer. I thought it was too low to delay our vacation, but our plans were flexible, so I said I was open to the idea. My husband approached the gate agent and offered to give up our seats for $1,500 apiece. She countered: $1,350 each.
Friday’s haul $4050.00
Saturday it’s back to the airport.
Indeed, when we got to the airport, the airline started offering money to volunteers…$300…$600…$900…$1,000…$1,300. Bingo! We took the offer. The airline ended up giving us two gift cards at $1,300 each and (surprise!) a third at $1,350. Delta also threw in lunch ($15 each) and round-trip taxi fare (worth about $50). That’s more than $4,000 if you factor in everything. The airline assured us that we would get confirmed seats on Sunday.
Saturday’s first haul $4045.00
After our flight departed, we waited. And waited. And waited. But the airline was still struggling to figure out the rebooking and get us three confirmed seats the next day. We found out that standby passengers were being told that Delta flights to Florida were fully booked (in fact, overbooked) until Tuesday. We were drained, and suddenly our long-weekend trip was looking far less appealing.
So when we suggested to the gate agent that we might be open to volunteering our seats again by canceling the trip altogether, the offer was met with smiles and another $1,000 per person in advance compensation. Delta sweetened the deal by refunding the cost of the three plane tickets. We accepted Delta’s offer and went home, sad to miss our trip, but not so sad about the lucrative results.
Saturday’s second haul $3000.00
Total haul, exactly $11,000.00 according to Laura’s article, and don’t forget the canceled trip.
Would you scrap your travel plans for $11,000.00? Not yes, but “Hell Yes!”, especially if it was only my wife and I traveling. If I was traveling with young children, I would turn the situation into a teachable moment. The type that people say are so important.
The Disappointment Moment – Learning to accept disappointment at an early age helps to build character. You can combine this with the “Life Isn’t Fair” moment. Kill two birds with one stone, you’ll be a stellar parent.
The Financial Moment – An easy lesson in economics. Turning a few grand into five times that in less than forty-eight hours, I should be on an infomercial.
The Thinking Of Others Moment – What better time than this to teach “It’s not all about you”. You can say things like “By us not going we’ve brought joy to others”, you know the drill.
Even with young kids, $11,000.00 would be hard to turn down, I guess I’m that shallow. In all my years of travel, I’ve only had one flight canceled and it was due to the flight being way undersold. We were re-booked on a later flight and given a $250.00 travel voucher, a fair trade.
I understand Mr. Dao not wanting to give his seat up, he had a reservation. And with that comes certain expectations, the main one being he expected to be on that flight. This situation reminds me of a Seinfeld episode. The one where Jerry goes to pick up his rental car, only to find that it’s not there.
Jerry: I don’t understand. Do you have my reservation?
Rental Car Agent: We have your reservation, we just ran out of cars.
Jerry: But the reservation keeps the car here. That’s why you have the reservation.
Rental Car Agent: I think I know why we have reservations.
Jerry: I don’t think you do. You see, you know how to *take* the reservation, you just don’t know how to *hold* the reservation. And that’s really the most important part of the reservation: the holding. Anybody can just take them.
Another side to the overbooking story and this one has a happy ending. The bigger issue is that the airlines continue to overbook flights, believe me, it’s overbooked long before you arrive at the airport. It’s very rare that I’m on a flight with any open seats. For example, I took the red-eye back from LAX last Thursday night, a 757 with 200+ seats and not a single one was empty.
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