I noticed yesterday morning that my afternoon SFO-PHL flight was zeroed out. I haven’t had a bump since February, so just the thought of picking up $400 in travel credits perked me up. I arrived in San Francisco about an hour and ten minutes before my connection to Philadelphia and proceeded directly over to the PHL gate where I was met with my favorite sign in the world:
I also noted that with more than hour to go before departure, 110/120 were checked in for the A319 operated flight–usually a good sign. I approached the gate agent and indicated that I would be willing to give up my seat, if needed. The gate agent was really professional (which isn’t always a good think if you’re looking for a proactive bump) and told me that he would take care of me if he needed volunteers, but it was still too early to tell. Then he added that the flight was only overbooked by two. Two??? That usually doesn’t bode well for bump opportunities.
I hurried off to the Red Carpet Club for a quick snack and to use the restroom and was back at the gate 45 minutes prior to departure. By this time, the official cut-off for check-in, 119/120 had checked in, but unfortunately, there were no passengers "confirmed awaiting seats."
Shortly thereafter, the gate agent made an announcement that no volunteers would be needed. One standby made it on the flight. Darn.
Sunday afternoon flights seem like good prospects for bumps and I’ll try the afternoon SFO-PHL flight again Thanksgiving weekend and maybe have better luck. But I wish UA would not put up the volunteer message if they are not yet ready to take volunteers. The verbiage of the sign, "We are seeking volunteers to take an alternate flight to Philadelphia. See your Customer Service Representative for details and compensation" does not suggest that volunteers may be needed, it suggests that volunteers are needed.
Another concern that prompted me to seek a VDB yesterday is the dearth of upgrades available on this route. A downside to this flight and A319/320 transcons in general is that upgrades are extremely difficult to procure. I’m happy to see a lot of full-fare traffic (my particular flight was sold out in F for two weeks), but I have not cleared a SFO-PHL or PHL-SFO non-redeye upgrade since last October (as in October 2009). And I was on a $249 o/w W-fare yesterday–not the usual bargain basement L fare. Oh well, at least we still have Economy Plus…for now.