Sunday afternoon I arrived at Hunstville, AL for my flight back to Philadelphia (via IAD and ORD) only to find the ExpressJet plane that was scheduled to take me back to Washington was broken. A replacement jet was dispatched from Nashville, but the delay would be over two hours, meaning I would miss my connection to ORD (on a tri-cab 767 confirmed in Business Class…).
Angry that I would miss my chance to fly on a three-cabin plane, I pulled out my laptop and began to examine other options to get me back to PHL. I narrowed it down to three options:
1. HSV-DCA on US with a cab voucher to IAD to make my original flight to Chicago
2. HSV-ORD-IAD-PHL on UA (less miles, no three cabin planes, no meal service)
3. HSV-DEN-PHL on UA (more miles, F3, Y3 DEN-PHL [possible bump])
I chose option three and easily cajoled the gate agent into routing me through Denver, despite the bewildered look on his face. Next came the more difficult part: getting me into First Class.
I asked what booking code I was in and he said "B" so that meant I would get a complimentary space-available upgrade. But DEN-PHL was an A319 and I did not want to risk being stuck in the back on a full flight. I asked the gate agent if he would confirm me in First because I already had confirmed upgrades from IAD-ORD-PHL (using only one e500 upgrade!).
He tapped on his keyboard for a few minutes, but said that the best he could do was waitlist me. I asked him if he could change my "B" booking class to "A" and he asked me what "A" was. I explained the different booking classes to him and he moved me to A class (discounted First). Score!
The flight from HSV-DEN was on a Skywest CR7 and I had 1B and 1C to myself. Not only was the seat comfortable, but the legroom was tremendous. The FA’s on the other hand…
In my experience, Skywest has the best FA’s in the regional jet industry, but the two young females on this flight were terrible. No finesse in their service and promptly after drink/snack service (thumbs up to the UA exPlus snackbox BTW) they both disappeared in the front galley for the most of the flight. A broken toilet drew them out for a moment, but they quickly returned to their magazines. I had to walk up to the galley (barricaded by a drink cart so they could both sit down) to get a glass of water.
I quickly proceeded to the PHL gate at DEN in hopes of a VDB opportunity, but there were 12 open seats and no bump opportunities. There were many volunteers needed on the earlier flight to PHL the gate agent told me. Oh well. Looking up at the flight status monitors, I chuckled to see 27 people on the upgrade waitlist before proceeding to the Red Carpet Club. I thought about checking out the Continental President’s Club, but there was not sufficient time to change terminals.
The flight to PHL was good–we arrived 40 minutes early–but no sweets were loaded! Actually, I avoid sweets anyway (most of the time…) but was surprised. Usually on midcon dinner flights there is cake served with dinner then chocolate chip cookies prior to landing.
Another great day of travel on United. Do you understand now why I love irregular operations?