Carolyn and I were flying from LGA to DCA early this morning. I booked an award ticket through UAL on USAIR, but mine was a connecting flight through PHL as there wasn’t any availability on the direct for award tickets. On UAL this means you have a confirmed flight on the less optimal route but if there are seats at the gate the agent will get you to your destination the most efficient route available, which is also the lowest CO2 emission route and the lowest cost route for the airline: everybody wins.
I called US air the night before to verify that I could fly standby (no problem, I was told) and that there were seats (looks like plenty, I was told). No problemmo.
But not with US-Air. Not that they weren’t friendly enough, but as my booking class was “X” and they didn’t have any “X” seats left, they couldn’t book me even though there were plenty of open seats. I tried with the gate agent, the supervisor, all to no avail. I called UAL but they don’t have any visible inventory because US-Air doesn’t share it with them. US-Air tells me UAL has to get me into one of their open seats. UAL shows no open seats.
So I figure I’ll just go to the gate. Gate agents have special powers over last minute seating. I show them my ticket and they immediately hand it back “no, we already called United, they won’t put you on this flight.” I’m thinking there must be a note on my ticket – but no, apparently the counter had called the gate and specifically told them not to let me on the flight. I get on the phone with UAL and they tell me “I don’t understand why they won’t just accept your coupon.” No budging.
I thought maybe I’d take the shuttle over to JFK and fly direct to IAD, but Carolyn pointed out there was a UAL express flight from LGA-IAD. As I have to get back to IAD later in the day anyway, it is a better option (pick up a rental car and drive myself into DC and back out). UAL got me on it no problem. I bus myself over to the UAL counter, and a very cool and very knowledgeable agent at the counter tells me about his family in Italy and his recording business in Rome while he gets me a very good seat on the LGA-IAD shuttle and clears my upgrade and tickets me for tonight’s flight back to SFO. Friendly agents, premium seating, no hassle, expedited security line.
UAL win: USAir Fail.
Glad I’m not causing a transfer payment after all. Lesson: it is worth flying a less convenient route on UAL than a more convenient one on USAir.