For the last several years I have traveled home to Los Angeles, either from Germany or the East Coast, for Thanksigiving. Last year, I scored a bump on my Washington – Los Angeles flight and this year I was hoping for another one. Instead, I found Philadelphia International Airport about as empty as I had ever seen it. San Francisco wasn’t bad either. And wait till you here what could have happeend…
Thinking flights would be full, I booked my Thanksgiving trip three months in advance and used a regional premier upgrade (RPU) in order to confirm first class on my United Airlines Philadelphia-San Franscisco-Los Angeles routing. The itinerary wasn’t all that expensive ($375 r/t), but I figured the flight would fill up as it was the last flight of the day to both cities.
24 hours before the flight, I noticed that the A320 from Philadelphia to San Francisco was still showing R7! With only 12 seats in first class, seven available upgrades is amazing for a transcon. Coach was under by 44, and here’s the kicker–all elites were ugpraded. Even the employee standbys were upgraded to first class. I could have flown standby and received an upgrade!
The flight featured the same disgusting mystery beef with mystery noodles that United has been serving all year. Almost as disgusting as the penne pasta with mariniara sauce, but having not eaten all day, I did consume most of the meal. The legacy United crew was attentive.
I met my brother in San Francsico so we could fly down to LA together. I checked at the gate to see if I could add him to the upgrade list, but was denied (and the agent was just going by the rules, so I cannot fault her). Anyway, after running into my friend Rosemary in the Red Carpet Club and chatting for a bit, we returned to the gate where first class had already boarded, everyone had been upgraded, and there was still one seat open.
I asked once again about an ugprade for my brother (he was on a near-full fare refundable ticket from his company, but has no status) and was denied. I was able to get him an exit row seat and did trade boarding passes with him once we got on the jet bridge.
To think that I could have bought him a cheap standby ticket and saved his company a couple hundred bucks and we could have then both sat in first class togehter. That first class seat remained empty…
Oh well. I know premium cabins are in some senses easier to score on holidays, but this was amazing. Light flights, easy upgrades–I wonder what my return on Monday is going to be like?