I think I speak for all of us when I say there are certain moments in life that we look back on with on regret. My regret this morning: giving up a bump voucher because of an airline meal.
This post is not meant to trivialize death, divorce, suffering, or wrong career moves. Rather, it is meant to poke fun at myself while hopefully help you avoid making a similar mistake.
For the Meal of the Week segment a few days ago, I wrote about a starchy meal I had on United from Chicago to San Jose, CA in 2007. The reason for the post was United is resuming service between ORD and SJC after a multi-year hiatus. Anyway, there was one detail that escaped me at the time.
I was flying to the Bay Area from a conference in Washington. It was the height of summer travel and I had booked my return from Baltimore to save on money. This was in the days prior to complimentary elite upgrades so I had used e-500 stickers/coupons to upgrade to first class on both legs.
Back in the day, if both of your upgrades cleared before check-in the system would calculate the number of 500-mile upgrades necessary from origin to destination rather than point to point. It was that rule that allowed me once to fly from LA to Philadelphia to Washington to Norfolk to Chicago to San Francisco for one e-500 mile upgrade. Another time, it just took one upgrade for a same-day Los Angeles to Honolulu to San Francisco trip. Why? Because less than 500 miles separate LAX and SFO. Anyway, this trip took five instead of six but I was so happy to fly in first class.
The Bump Opportunity
At the gate in Baltimore, the agent announced our flight to Chicago required volunteers and was offering a $400 voucher to take another flight a couple hours later. The new flight to Chicago had first class available, but it departed in the middle of the afternoon so there would be no meal service. I checked on a direct flight to San Francisco and found that there were no first class seats, just coach.
So I turned down the upgrade.
What did I get in return? A 737-300 from Baltimore to Chicago in a “United Shuttle” configuration. No ovens on those planes so I did not even get a hot lunch to Chicago, instead a a cold “TV dinner”–
Then the starch, starch, with a side of starch from Chicago to San Francisco–
So $400 for a lunch on plastic tray and a carb bomb…
United does not as aggressively overbook any longer so opportunities for bumps are much more limited than before. Furthermore, sometimes my schedule no longer allows me to take bumps even when available. But one thing is certain: I will never turn down an bump for an airline meal again.