I set out today, camera in hand, for my first air trip in months it seemed like, destination: Burlington, Vermont via Charlotte and New York with the hopes of catching my first US East A319, and my first A321.
After two hours of spotting at the wet and mostly dead Memphis airport I was all ready to board N758US, the A319 operating Mem-Clt today, when the gate crew announced that the flight was oversold. Being at the back of the line to board the plane and standing near the podium, i wandered over thinking I'd at least find out what the reward was for volunteering. A very generous offer of a 500 dollar travel credit motivated me to give up my seat. Everyone else boarded, then the gate crew seemed to decide they didn't need my seat after all, so, I was handed back my boarding passes and on I went. I made my way back to what I thought was my seat to find someone sitting there. I walked back up the aisle with the flight attendant looking for another open seat but there were none, the flight was totally full. So, I became a volunteer anyway. So, i got my 500 dollar credit and the gate crew rebooked me onto United via Chicago.
I then walked down to United to check in for the Chicago flight I had been rebooked on. When the gate agent arrived I presented my print off as I had been told to do, while explaining that I had been bumped off the US flight and she said "Why'd they send you here? we're full." I sort of suspected from the number of people in the waiting area that I wouldn't get on the flight. UA called down to US and said they were full. UA then told me to go to the US ticket counter. Not wanting to deal with the hassle of going outside security then getting rescreened, i walked back to the US gate instead. Once the 225pm Mem-Clt had been sent on it's way, the gate agent pulled up my record, then called his colleague, who was now working the ticket counter. Apparently she had been trying to reach me as she had rebooked me for a 244pm on DL via PHL then LGA on US to my destination.
It was just as well that I didn't make the DL flight as it was delayed by 45 minutes so I wouldn't have made the PHL-LGA anyway, as the connection without the delay was only an hour and I'd have had to change terminals at PHL to boot, with only 15 minutes to make the flight, well, i'd have probably ended up spending the night in Philadelphia or New York.
Likewise it was probably also just as well that I didn't make the UA flight as it ended up being delayed, and the connecting flight from Ord-Btv was also delayed so I'd have gotten into BTV at like 1230am.
The gate offered to rebook me for tomorrow, but, that wouldn't work, as this was just a 2 day up and back trip I was taking on my days off. At this point, having been at the airport already for four hours, and having gotten less than my usual amount of sleep last night, I gave up on the trip and requested that the itinerary be canceled and I'd simply apply it to future travel as a credit.
The gate sent me to the ticket counter, who called their help desk, regained control of the reservation from Delta, canceled the itinerary, and put in a request for a refund. So, not only did I get the 500 dollar travel voucher, but, I'm also getting a 500 dollar refund (hopefully). 1000 dollars for four hours of work isn't bad IMO.
I also got a good lesson in the importance of making sure passengers have seat assignments. While it ended up being a financially positive exercise in good customer service, it was also a definite hassle to me as the passenger.